Your Query Letter: How to Write An Irresistible Offer by Rochelle Melander
All I wanted to do was buy discount tickets to the Amazing Pets Show and The Hollywood Wax Museum. It’d been a long day of wandering around Branson, MO, and we were picking up groceries at the Price Chopper. I was delighted to find a discount ticket booth inside the store. Sweet!
“What do you want to see?” asked the ticket counter guy. As I named the show, he punched it into his computer. He asked how long we’re in town and how many tickets we’d need. Once he had his information, he jotted down a price on a piece of paper and said, “Yup, that’ll run you upwards of $100 for all four of you to go.”
“Wow, I thought this was a discount ticket booth,” I said.
“I can do better for you,” he told me.
“How much better?”
I needed a price I could live with. Then I could pay and leave. I was tired and hungry. But it wasn’t that simple. The guy told me that he could save me more than $100 if my husband and I would sit through a presentation. The kids would get to attend an activity, even play miniature golf for free, while we spend an hour, two at the most, learning about some luxury travel club.
Oh. Not what I wanted to hear.
I hesitated. By this time my husband was standing next to me. He’d already put the groceries in the car. The kids were playing with the video games, conveniently located next to the ticket counter.
“You can choose from these times tomorrow,” said the salesman, writing them down.
Before I can answer, an older woman with wild gray hair stops by the booth. The other salesman asks her what brought her to Branson. She said, “We’re here because of a &*% #@&! time share.”
Before we can walk away, our sales guy says, “I’ll sweeten the deal. I’ll give each of you a $25 Visa Card if you go.”
I did the math in my head. $150 for 90 minutes, that’s $50 an hour. Plus, I figured, I can learn something from this.
And I did. The salesmen we encountered at the Price Chopper were brilliant at crafting a hook. As writers, we can learn from these guys.
The hook. Next time you write a query letter, here’s how you can write an irresistible offer:
+Offer exactly what the client wants. Solve a problem for them. We were a family vacationing in Branson over the holidays. The sales guy correctly identified the universal problem facing families on vacation: they want to have fun and not spend a lot of money. They offered to solve that problem for us by offering us free tickets to the show we wanted to see, extra money to spend, and free miniature golf for the kids. As you write your hook, consider this: what does the agent or editor want? How does your product or service provide that?
+Sweeten the deal. Every single time we hesitated, the sales guy did one of two things: he wrote down how much we’d be saving by just going to the presentation or he sweetened the deal. Of course, if you’re making an offer in writing, you’ll need to consider ahead of time how you can provide added value in your query or proposal. This might include:
+Add urgency. The salesman wouldn’t let us walk away from the counter until we’d made a decision. He knew that he’d never have a better chance to hook us. How can you add a sense of urgency to your offer?
*Note the timeliness of your query, including the benefits it will offer the reader.
*Offer a time limit for considering your query such as, “I’m offering this to you exclusively for the next month.”
Your turn: Have you ever been hooked into a timeshare presentation? What elements of their pitch have you borrowed to write great query letters or book proposals? Add your suggestions below!