How to Write a Romance Novel Query Letter
A query letter has one job: to seduce an agent into reading your manuscript. It does this by painting your book into a pretty little box that they can instantly understand—but also makes it seem unique and like nothing else in their slush pile or on their shelves.
It begins by sharing any connection you have with the agent (such as a mutual friend, contact from a conference, or a previous publishing credit). Then, it moves on to your genre and word count.
Romance novels are one of the most popular genres of fiction. However, they’re often dismissed by critics as lowbrow. Despite this, romance novels still sell well and appear frequently on bestseller lists. To write a successful romance novel, you need to understand the genre and its elements.
The key element of a romance novel is the central love story. The romance novel also has to have a positive ending that leaves readers satisfied. There are many different subcategories of romance, including historical, paranormal, erotic and inspirational.
In a query letter, you need to specify the genre and subgenre of your book. This allows agents to quickly determine if your book fits in with their market. It also helps them decide whether your book is a twist on a classic trope or an original take on a common theme.
Romance is one of the most popular genres. It is a sub-genre of fiction that can include many different plot lines. Romance novels are mostly about romance between two people but also often have a third, fourth or more characters involved in the plot.
Romantic conflict is usually a major component of the story and should be highlighted in your query letter. Whether the main conflict is a case of mistaken identity, a forbidden love affair or a second chance at happiness, make sure to include it in your query.
Although the basics of outlining and structuring a novel are the same across all genres, romance has its own quirks and unwritten rules. Familiarize yourself with the conventions of romance and its sub-genres by reading a few books in your chosen category.
Developing well-rounded characters is vital to the success of any novel. They bring tried-and-true tropes to life and create an emotional investment for readers. This makes them more than just players in a romance plot, and can make your story stand out from the slush pile.
One common character element in romance is keeping secrets – likable rivals who drop hints that their love interest is interested, or reveal childhood traumas that could derail the protagonist’s romantic endgame. But these characters should be used sparingly, because they can detract from the overall arc of the narrative.
Other character traits include age-appropriate actions (a teenager cannot behave like a 20-something), and a distinct personality trait that differentiates them from other characters. A memorable name also helps.
Many agents request that you send your query letter in the body of an email, plus a one-to-two-page novel synopsis as a separate attachment. This allows them to see at a glance whether your book is right for their list, in particular.
It also gives them an idea of the plot, without giving away too much of the ending. This is why it is important to write a synopsis that will stand out from the rest of the submissions they get.
For fiction, this is especially challenging, as the genre is often more than just a love story, from historical to mystery to erotica. Still, it must be clear that the love story is central to the book and that it has an emotionally satisfying and optimistic ending.
A query letter is a short one-page document that sells your novel to an agent or editor. It’s important to have a well-written, professional-looking query letter, which can be done by finding someone with editing and publishing experience who offers a query letter review service.
You should include a short bio at the beginning of your query letter, and let them know if you have any other publishing credits or accomplishments relevant to your genre (for example, if you’re an NYT-bestselling author with a large social media following, you can mention that). Some agents will ask for a full-length novel synopsis as an attachment with your query letter. If that’s the case, be sure to follow their instructions carefully. Never give away the ending of your book in a query letter!