Query Letters are hard.
Ok, let’s be honest – they’re damn hard. But they are incredibly easier with these 21 tools.
Think of these tools as writer hacks, shortcuts and best practices for getting the edge on the competition.
I’ve never shared this list before or seen these tools collected in this way for this purpose anywhere else.
So I’m basically throwing open my secret vault of query tools that bring in hundreds of dollars per month of revenue from writing query letters for other authors.
Each tool is valuable by itself but the real power is when you stack them together – their combined effect is nearly unstoppable.
21. Google Alerts
The famous Google Alerts feature can significantly give you the edge on writing your query letter. They are super simple to set up and then, bam, they automate insider information that can blow your query to the stratosphere.
How to Set Up a Google Alert in 5 Simple Steps
- Go to Google.com/alerts
- Type your search term into the text bar.
- Click on the Show Options link to narrow down your search
- Enter an email address
- Hit the Create Alert Button
That’s it! You will automatically start to receive Google Alerts directly in your chosen email account.
Here’s How to Use Google Alerts to Hack an Agent
Set Google Alerts for:
- The topic(s) of your novel or book
- New books in your genre or category (for book comparisons in your query letter)
- Names of specific literary agents
- New Agents
What you want is the most updated information to pack into your query letter so that you demonstrate that you are “in the know”, so that you can target new agents more open to query letters from unknown writers and so you can follow your favorite literary agents.
Imagine being able to congratulate an agent on a new publishing deal or a new position in your query! If you are the ONLY one who noticed, don’t you think you’ll stand out?
One last tip: I recommend that you set Google Alerts the moment you start writing your novel. That way, by the time you go to write your query letter, you will have weeks, months or years of information to inject into your query letter.
If you have already finished your novel, don’t panic. Just start your Google Alerts right now.
20. CoSchedule.com’s Headline Analyzer
This is a tool designed to help professional bloggers create jaw-dropping headlines for their latest blog post. But, it’s packed with features to help you create a mouth-watering title for your novel and pitch-worthy tag-line or hook for your query letter.
How To Use the Headline Analyzer
- Enter your book title or draft tag-line into the tool
- Click on the “Analyze Now” button
- Before you blink, the tool will spit out invaluable data on everything from word choice, length, first and last words and how your title will show up in Google Search (in case someone has an alert set for you 🙂
The cool thing is you can play around by tweaking your title or tag line until your score goes up. Every little bit helps.
Go ahead, try out the Headline Analyzer.
19. Portent.com Content Generator
Portent is another generator along the same lines of the CoScheduler Headline Tool. However, Portent gives you a series of titles, headlines or tag lines.
Just like Coschedule, you enter your topic and the tool does the rest. It’s almost like query magic.
By the way, I plugged the phrase “query letter tools” into the generator and out came these gems:
- Why Query Letter Tools is On Crack (I’m not sure about this one, but it made me laugh!)
- Why Query Letter Tools Are the Secret Ingredient
- Don’t Hold Back Your Query Letter
- The Hunger Games Guide to Query Letter Tools
I actually like the the last two.
Especially the Hunger Games idea. Those last two literary agents that rejected you? Yeah, toss them in a pit and let them fight their way out. You can stand at the top and make comments like:
“Me not helping you is no reflection on the quality of you as a person. It just isn’t a good fit right now. Feel free to try again later.”
Back to the tools. The goal with Portent is not to always use the titles verbatim (although you can), it’s to understand the patterns and phrases behind compelling copy.
Try out the Portent.com Content Generator
Surprised to see this social media giant on the list? You might love Twitter or you might hate Twitter, but the fact is that Twitter is one of the very best tools for crushing your query letter, getting agents and living your dream life as a full time writer.
How to Crush Your Query With Twitter
- Follow bestselling authors in your genre
- Follow literary agents that represent your genre
- Follow other writers
- Discover query writing tips at #QueryTip or #AskAgent
- Uncover exactly what kind of manuscripts specific agents are looking for at #MSWL (manuscript wish list)
- Curate literary agents into a list. (Don’t know much about lists? Here’s a great article from PostPlanner).
- Join in on Twitter pitch events to pitch agents your novel in 140 characters or less!
What can you get from Twitter? How about…
- Juicy information to personalize your query letter
- Did you just read the previous bulleted list? You can get an agent on Twitter! While you’re there, follow me at @Chris_Kokoski and @WritingSecrets
- Connections with influencers (bestselling authors, media, book reviewers and authors on the rise) in your genre.
Sometimes it really is who you know.
Go to Twitter
It’s easy to underestimate and overlook this resource. From someone who helps other authors makeover their query letters, let me tell you: word choice matters! While you probably want to avoid a string of five-dollar words, you also want to avoid using simple, boring words that lack energy, passion and imagery.
You never know which word will grab an agent and convince them to request your manuscript or offer to represent you.
Go to Thesaurus.com
Also check out Power Thesaurus, a unique thesaurus collated by writers.
When you leave querying to traditional query routes alone, it’s like only searching for jobs when companies post open positions. Hint: the best time to get the job is BEFORE the position is posted.
Be proactive. Be creative.
Create a website portal for your book. Create a hub for all things YOU. Build your author platform, collect email addresses to add to your email list so that you can blast out updates about your writing and have a ready made audience to buy your book when you get it published.
How WordPress Can Create a Portal to Publication
Include a public sample, author bio, media kit, etc – and here’s the query kicker: create a *private* or *password protected* page with a link to download your entire manuscript so that agents can get and read your book when they are most excited about it (otherwise they may have to request it and then wait days or weeks for you to get back with them!).
Just don’t forget to include the link and password at the bottom of your query letter with brief instructions. “Requesting the full manuscript? Why wait? Get it at this link: [Insert link]. Use the password: [Insert password].
Launch your author website with WordPress .
WPbeginner.com is one of the best resources for learning the basics of WordPress.
15. Google Drive
Google Drive is an online space for storage and sharing. The best part is that you start with a free plan up to a certain storage limit (I haven’t hit mine yet!).
- Upload your sample chapters to share with literary agents and others
- Upload your full book (this is an alternative to creating a WordPress page). You can then share the link with a literary agent in your query letter. Easy peasy.
- Upload your query letter and use Google Docs (see below)
Check out Google Drive.
14. Google Docs
Notice how Google is killing it in this list! Google for the query win.
Google Docs is a collaboration platform designed for team projects. How can you use it to write a perfect query letter? Upload your query letter so that you, your editors or beta readers can all edit a single version – even at the same time!
This will save you tons of query editing time.
Check out Google Docs.
13. Google Hangout
Speaking of getting creative, how about using another free Google platform – Google Hangouts – to reach out live to beta readers, other writers and literary agents. Google Hangouts is basically a conferencing tool.
Don’t limit yourself to the traditional query route. Take calculated risks. Some of the most famous and successful people in the history of the world bucked the system by finding another way.
Find another way. Find YOUR way.
Check out Google Hangouts.
Buzz Sumo shows you what content performs best for any topic or search term. This may not, at first, seem completely groundbreaking. But it really can transform your query in short order.
Here are a few guerrilla query letter tactics for using BuzzSumo
- Search the topic of your novel or book
- Search for keywords related to your book
- Enter the domain name (website url) of a popular blog related to the topic of your book or novel or literary agent.
The information you collect can be invaluable when pitching agents in person, through Twitter or via traditional query letters. Information really in power.
Check out BuzzSumo.
Nearly every how-to writing book admonishes writers to read their work out loud to hear the sound of words, phrases and sentences. I wholeheartedly agree with this advice. Often awkward word choice or sentence structure becomes suddenly evident when we translate our words from page to mouth.
Query letters are no different.
Use the built in recorder on your phone or an app like Smart Record (that’s the one I’m currently using) to record yourself reading your query letter for later play back. It’s amazing what you’ll notice when you “hear” your letter given voice.
- Gramatical errors
- Spelling mistakes
- Sentence structure
- Sentence flow
- Awkward phrasing
- Repeated words
- Repeated sentence structure
- Overall impact of your letter
Check out Smart Record.
10. Voice Dream
The only thing better than reading your own query letter is getting someone to read it to you. Side note: you may get some funny looks from your kids, spouse or – especially – the barista at your favorite local coffee shop. Still, it’s well worth it.
Or, you can just use an app like Voice Dream. It’s not free, but at the current Apple Store price of around $10.99, it’s pretty hard to beat.
Here’s what this little versatile tool can do for you:
- Read any PDF
- Read any Word Document
- Read your query letter
- Read in a seeming unlimited number of voices, dialects and languages.
Hearing your query letter read aloud in a natural sounding English accent is something every writer deserves.
Check out Voice Dream.
This list of tools is all about leveraging the unexpected to 10X your query letter. YouTube fits right in.
How YouTube Can Make Your Query Go Viral
- Record a high quality video of your pitch (you never know who might see it)
- Record a video of your writing, content or sample chapter
- Build your platform
- Become an authority on your topic or niche
- Expand your discoverability
If singers can be discovered on YouTube, why not writers? Cut through the query fray. The more ways you pursue your dream, the faster you’ll get there.
Check out YouTube.
While you’re there, here are a few YouTube videos on making great YouTube videos (how Meta!)
Grammarly is a free online editing tool that bills itself as the best online proofreader. You can upload your query letter directly into the tool for help with spelling, grammar and tons more.
- Proofread for 400 + points of grammar
- Proofread for Word Usage
- Proofread for plagerism
It’s definitely worth running your query letter through the tool before sending it out.
Check out Grammarly.
7. Word Counter
Word counter is a simple site with a straightforward purpose: point out repeated words in your writing.
Here’s how you use it:
- Upload your writing directly into the text box
- Hit the Go button
- Receive a list of up to 25 of your most repeated words
Tip: Use Word Counter with Thesaurus.com to upgrade your word choice, avoid repetition and make more impact with your query letter.
Check out Word Counter.
At first, it may sound a bit strange to point to a copywriting site when talking about query letters, but it usually starts to make more sense when you realize that a pitch is, in fact, a sales letter. When you think about it, the entire goal of a query letter is to persuade and entice a literary agent to request a partial or full manuscript or make an offer of representation.
That means understanding sales best practices, sales language and sales principles can supercharge your query letter.
Now, to be sure, you want to avoid the sleazy stereotypical late night infomercial or used-car salesman approach. But, when it comes down to it, influence is influence. The more you know, the better you can query.
Use Swiped.co to Learn…
- The structure of a sales pitch
- The power of word choice
- Transition words to lead a reader (an agent!) down the page of a query letter
- Principles of persuasion (the underlying forces that trigger thoughts, feelings and behaviors)
- How to instantly connect with virtual strangers
Check out Swiped.co
5. Publishers Marketplace
You knew this was coming! Publisher’s Marketplace is a top site for finding literary agents online. With an advanced search feature, you can get a list of hundreds of agents with just a click.
Each individual agent listing includes:
- Agent bio
- Agent posts/articles
- Submission tips
- Genre the agent represents
- Sometimes a twitter account
While I encourage you to move from this site to deeper agent research online, this is a great jumping off place!
Check out Publisher’s Marketplace.
I included this site because of it’s exclusive membership features. You can easily research agents, track submissions and more.
“I subscribed to WritersMarket.com and compiled a list of small publishers that accepted unsolicited submissions and a few literary agencies.” – Stephenie Meyer, Author of the Twilight Series (Excerpt from StephenieMeyer.com)
Check out WritersMarket.com
Like Publishers Marketplace and WritersMarket, this is a site to find literary agents.
What sets it apart (and makes it a must-have on any good list of query tools) is the community of writers.
- You are able to post a query letter and get tons of feedback
- Writers support each other, share struggles and celebrate success stories
- Writers regularly post queries that worked so you have proven models to follow (see the #1 Query Tool Below!)
Check out AgentQuery.
2. Query Letter Database
One of the best (and fastest) ways to master writing query letters is to read lots of successful queries that pulled in agents.
Thankfully, a massive downloadable spreadsheet exists with proven query letters categorized by genre, author, agent and more!
- Emulate (but don’t copy!)
Check out the Query Letter Database.
1. Instant Query Letter Generator [Template]
Finally, you made it to the very best tool for writing your bestseller query letter! The software for the one-click query generator is still in beta. However, until then, you can use a full query template to generate your own bestselling query letters. It’s as easy as copy + paste.
How to Use the Instant Query Generator Template
- Download the free full query template
- Insert your author and book details where indicated inside the brackets (author name, book title, agent name, conflict, setting, what’s included with your submission, etc.)
- Remove the brackets
It really doesn’t get any easier than that!
While this query template uses words, phrases and sentence structures that are proven to appeal to literary agents (and readers), the template is meant to be a prompt, a muse, a trigger for further creativity. This is not the only template that works, but it does work.
The template especially works well when you combine it with your originality and the 20 other tools in this list.
By the way, this template is modeled after a query that got 20 full manuscript requests, 10 partials and three offers of representation. Now those are numbers to shoot for!
So there you have it – 21 of the best tools for crushing your query letter. Learn them, use the, stack them. There are few moments as a writer better than knowing your query letter is the very best that it can be.
Copy & Share on Social: Wow! I just discovered the 21 Best Query Letter Tools. (http://wp.me/p3IuOx-10I) (#1 is a gamechanger). #amwriting #amquerying #querytip
Christopher Kokoski is the author of the groundbreaking new how-to book, QUERY LETTER SWIPE FILE: Exact Words, Phrases and Templates to Write Query Letters, Get Literary Agents and Publish Books for Life. Download a free chapter. Got a question, comment or feedback? Send Christopher a message.
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