Hi everyone! ;)
Query letters are notoriously difficult to write if you've never done one before. This is a simple template that I've used with great success. (The first query I ever wrote garnered requests for partials and fulls 80% of the time. Very exciting back when I was still an aspiring author.)
Here's the template:
1) Greeting: Always include the *real* name of the person you're targeting. No "dear editor" or "to whom it may concern." Call and get the name of the person if you can't find it or are unsure if that person is still with the agency or publisher you're querying.
2) Introductory paragraph: Include the title of your book, the word count, the genre and the possible market. "My 100,000 word novel "Bringing Sexy Back" will appeal to pop culture fans who enjoy reading about Paris Hilton in the tabloids."
3) Summary paragraph: This should be one paragraph, very much like a back cover blurb or the summary you would find on a jacket flap. Write as if you were creating an advertising slogan--punchy prose and exciting verbiage. Be sure it's clear and compelling.
4) Personal paragraph: Describe yourself and the reason you're the best author to write this book. Include any noteworthy writing credentials you have. (Sharing that you've been published by poetry.com isn't noteworthy--but having a short story in an anthology or magazine is.) Any awards you've won, any past working experience you've had related to the book, these can showcase what you bring to the book to make it all the more appealing. (For instance, "Aside from three years working with the paparazzi, I am the moderator of the largest fan blog for Britney Spears and for three years, have guest blogged at many related sites, including the fan blogs of Lindsey Lohan and Nicole Ritchie.")
5)Closing paragraph: Mention what you have included with the query--always making sure it suits their guidelines. For instance, if they say it's acceptable to send the first three chapters straight away, then include that. Otherwise, simply state: "The full manuscript "Bringing Sexy Back" is complete and available on request. I've included an SASE for your convience and look forward to your response. Thank you for your consideration."
When you've gotten this all down, edited, read alound, corrected, and as perfect as humanly possible, sign your name and begin submitting! ;)
If you decide to use this template, share your query here in the comments and let us know how it went for you ;)