Items to include in your query letter:
- Contact Information
- Agent’s Title
- Why you chose to query this agent
- How your book is unique
- Your hook (tell about your book in 1-3 brief sentences)
- The Details (word count, genre)
- Comparison to a book represented by the agent’s firm
- Author Information

The order you put these items in the letter is up to you. Many people recommend that you start with the details of your book. I decided to put this information later because my wordcount was high. This will sometimes turn off an agent and I wanted her to read the hook first. Instead of the details, I chose to put the reason why I contacted the agent first. That way she would know right away that I'd done my research. The most important thing is not that you follow a form and put all of the information in the right order, but that you do your research and present yourself as a professional.

Below is the query letter I sent to an agency which resulted in a request for a partial manuscript:

102 Sugar Mill Rd.
Troy, IL 62294
(Make sure to include all of your contact information, even it you’re sending an e-query.)

March 13, 2008

Dear Ms. Gardner; (Use the agent’s title. Keep the query professional.)

On your website, I read that you are searching for books that express a Christian worldview, including suspense/thriller novels. (Let the agent know why you chose to query him or her. It lets them know you did your research and you didn’t just choose them out of a hat.) I would like to introduce you to THE RACE THAT LIES BEFORE US (Put the name of your book in all caps.), a Christian novel that uniquely blends the thrills and action of the suspense genre with the excitement of stock car racing. (Tell how your book is unique.)

When a top-secret agent with enhanced strength uses her extraordinary abilities during several high-profile assignments—from the White House to NASCAR tracks—unwanted publicity not only threatens to expose her secrets, but also makes her a terrorist target. The only way she can save her life as she knows it, is through death. (Your hook)

THE RACE THAT LIES BEFORE US is a 120,000 word, character-driven Christian suspense novel. (The details) Like the novel, Blindside (Put the name of anyone else’s book in italics.) by Dr. Calvin Miller, my story includes Muslim terrorists, bombs, and innocent people who must be rescued by a most unusual character. (Compare your book with a book the agent’s firm has represented.)

My love of the written word has fueled my writing journey, which began with a B.A. in Composition and Linguistics. Four of my short stories have been published in a reading workbook for Milliken Publishing and I continue to polish my skills by actively participating in two critique groups. (Give a little information about yourself, but keep it related to writing.)

Thank you for your time and consideration. I look forward to hearing from you. As a professional courtesy, I would like to let you know that I have contacted several agents whom I think may be interested in THE RACE THAT LIES BEFORE US. (Many agents state that they like to know when the author has sent simultaneous queries.)

(Keep it professional all the way to the end.)
Suzanne Hartmann