Query Like a Pro: How to Hook Agents from the Start

Query Like a Pro: How to Hook Agents from the Start

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  • You are a writer who has just finished their book and is ready to start querying
  • You are a writer stuck in a form-rejection rut looking to revamp your pitch material
  • You are a writer unsure how best to sum up your work
  • You are a writer looking for examples of winning pitches
  • You are a writer seeking to avoid common mistakes or red flags


Query letters are often your first and last chance to hook readers, which makes it one of the most important pages you will write. It needs to be polished, interesting, concise, and professional. Intimidated? Get an agent's perspective on what works and what doesn't to help your book go from “unsolicited" to “sold."

This presentation introduces the most important aspects of a professional query letter as preferred by current industry standards, including format, content, style, and sizzle. Using examples of successful query letters,and mock examples of less persuasive pitches,writers learn the techniques of pitching to make agents want to read more.

Literary agent Adriann Ranta Zurhellen has read hundreds of thousands of queries and found numerous clients from unsolicited submissions to the slush pile. She is evangelical about the power of professional query letters to connect savvy authors with their dream agents.


  • Standard paragraph breakdown and formatting
  • What your query letter must include
  • How to recognize your book's "hook"
  • Winning techniques to be memorable within submission guidelines
  • What not to do in your query letter
  • How to adapt your current pitch or know when to start again
  • Introductory resources for agent matchmaking


Adriann Ranta Zurhellen is an agent at Foundry Literary + Media in New York. She represents New York Times bestselling, award-winning authors, journalists, illustrators and graphic novelists, as well as cultural commentators, stuntwomen, makeup artists, and many other pioneering creative thinkers and leaders in their fields. She is actively acquiring all genres for all age groups with a penchant for edgy, dark, unusual voices, unique settings, and everyman stories told with a new spin. She loves gritty, realistic, true-to-life stories with conflicts based in the real world; women's fiction and nonfiction; accessible, pop nonfiction in science, history, and craft; and smart, fresh, genre-bending works for children.

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