Don’t include the script or novel in the first email: copyright

Agents and producers often won’t open an email that contains an unsolicited creative work in a query letter. This is because it opens them up to copyright lawsuits if they are working on another project that’s similar, or one of their clients is. It’s not a bad idea to identify in your email subject line exactly what the attachments are i.e. ‘Query letter containing synopsis and logline.’

What to include in your query letter?

Your CV! Let them know who you are, your publication record, and positions you’ve held that might be relevant (are you a publisher yourself? Or an editor?). Consider including a paragraph explaining what makes you the perfect person to tell your story. Have you studied a law degree, which makes you particularly well suited to writing crime fiction? Did you major in modern history, making you the perfect person to write historical fiction? Let the person you are approaching know why this project particularly interests you! Did you major in human rights law? And does your project depict matters related to human rights? 

Where does your project fit into the market?

Consider mentioning what already produced works your project is similar to. Is your work a little bit like a title that the publisher has published in the past? Is that in fact the reason you are approaching this particular publisher first? Can you make an argument that this agent or publisher is the perfect person to take on the project? 

Where does your work fit into the current market?

Can you point to works that are similar to yours that have had great financial success? Can you say that people who enjoyed a particular work may be particular interested in your writing? The goal is to help the agent or producer see exactly where your project might fit into the market, and the audience it might attract. 

Why this story and why now? 

Can you make a case that your story is urgently needed, and important viewing? Does it address themes and issues that are relevant at the moment? Why should people read your tale, and what will they miss out on if they don’t experience it? What has spurred you on to write this story, and why is it vitally important to you that it reaches an audience? 

Loglines and synopses for query letters

Definitely include a one line logline with your query letter, that is less than 25 words, that tells the agent / producer / publisher about the central character, and the journey they are on. Consider including a one paragraph synopsis that addresses the main elements of your story, and also perhaps attach a one page synopsis that goes into the story a little more deeply. Don’t be afraid to address the big themes of your work i.e. love, revenge, justice, brotherhood / sisterhood. These kinds of overarching themes can help someone to understand where the work will be positioned in the market. 

Be as polite as possible

Don’t follow up on your query letter more than once! As long as you are respectful, professional, and polite (and don’t follow up more than once) you can’t go too wrong! The idea is to try to make a good impression on an agent or producer. Remember that no impression is better than a bad impression. Good luck!

Check out tips on writing the perfect villain here.


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How to Turn Creative Writing Rejection into a Win Every Time! | Writing Journal · 19/04/2021 at 9:22 am

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