Thursday, July 14, 2011

Writing a good query letter

Since I am asked about it so much (well, okay, maybe two people asked about it) I have decided to post the query letter for my latest military thriller/dark fantasy, LILITH. So far, I have gotten full manuscript requests from four literary agencies and from what I understand, those are pretty good numbers. Two of the agencies are small, one-person operations, one is medium (three agents) and one is a large New York agency (about eight agents).

This letter has been through several revisions and could go through several more, but as of now, this is the one I’ve been sending out. It pretty much answers the questions agents want answered in a query in a short, succinct way. Feel free to peruse it and get some ideas for writing your own query, if you want. But please, no copying, or I’ll have to tell the teacher! Of course, I personalize each letter so it isn’t the exact same thing every time, but this is the gist of the query:

Before evil had a name, there was Lilith.

Something has come aboard the U.S. Navy’s newest state-of-the-art super carrier, the USS Gerald R. Ford—a creature that has existed since the time of Adam and Eve is masquerading as a human and secretly taking over the ship and her crew.

Reporter Hunter Singleton and his wife, Lisa, are invited aboard the Ford as part of a media tour to witness training operations off the coast of North Carolina. Instead, the couple find themselves in the midst of a nightmare.

The CIA has an operative on board, someone who has been closely watching the creature, following its every move, hoping to find a weakness before it’s too late. But it possesses powers that defy the very laws of nature.

A hurricane materializes practically overnight, taking the ship and her crew by surprise and forcing them to go north. Soon the hurricane gains strength, following close behind the Ford.

The crew discovers that the hurricane, now a category five, is headed directly toward New York Harbor. The Ford is called to assist in the aftermath, but whatever has come aboard has other plans, a terrifying plot that could destroy the carrier and wipe out the entire population of New York City.

The true horror lies not only in the creature’s supernatural abilities, but also in its ultimate goal—to eradicate the human race and become the Earth’s dominant life form.

LILITH by Toby Tate

LILITH is a dark fantasy of about 80,000 words. I feel the target audience for LILITH would be 18-50 year-old men and women who enjoy a good scare, an intricate plot, lots of action and true-to-life characters. It is part of a series featuring man and wife team Hunter and Lisa Singleton.


My first novel, DIABLERO, was published in paperback by Nightbird Publishing in Oct. 2010 and in e-book form by Crossroad Press in March, 2011. It was endorsed by NY Times best-selling author Steve Alten (MEG) and is currently the #2 bestseller at Eagle Eye Book Shop, Atlanta’s #1 indie bookstore. DIABLERO has been nominated for the Southern Independent Booksellers Award (SIBA).

Some of my favorite modern authors include Dan Brown, Douglas Preston, Lincoln Child, Steve Alten, James Rollins, Vince Flynn, Brad Thor, James Patterson, Nelson DeMille, Clive Cussler, Lee Child, Stephen King and Bentley Little. Some of my influences include Ray Bradbury, Stephen King, H.P. Lovecraft, Edgar Rice Burroughs, Robert Heinlein, Rod Serling, Edgar Allen Poe, Jules Verne, J.R.R. Tolkien, C.S. Lewis and Arthur Conan Doyle.

I am deeply involved in the marketing and promotion of my own books, with over 12,000 hits on my website, over 1,200 friends on Facebook and over 5,000 reads on my Scribd page. I am also on Twitter and have my own blog, “Here There Be Monsters,” which I frequently update. I have done internet radio and newspaper interviews and guest blogs. I have pages on,, and have created a YouTube video for DIABLERO, which has received nearly 2,000 hits. I post often on message boards such as Kindle Boards, Author Nook, Mobile Reads, Absolute Write, and on local North Carolina boards.

I have also done many book signings and question and answer sessions, where I sell anywhere from 20 to 30 books at a time.

I was a newspaper reporter for five years and have also been published in The Pedestal Magazine, Famous Monsters of Filmland, Scary Monsters Magazine and other periodicals. I am currently a freelance writer and journalist with regular articles appearing on and other websites and newspapers.

I am currently working on my third novel in the series, NOCTURNAL, and have ideas for several more in the series and some stand-alone novels.

Thanks for your time and I look forward to hearing from you.

Toby Tate
Author of DIABLERO
Elizabeth City, NC
Phone # here
Visit for
an excerpt from the book, as well as links
to my writing on the publishing industry,
the music industry, and more.

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