Direct response copywriting meets the query letter

An author recently contracted me to help him with a book proposal. If you're unfamiliar with the book publishing process, before a book gets published, there has to be a book proposal and before there's a book proposal, there's a query letter. The query letter gets a publisher or literary agent interested in the book proposal; the publisher makes a decision about the book based on the book proposal.

All the books about publishing I've read say the query letter has to be a groveling plea for a merciful look at the book proposal. Something like this...

Dear all-powerful literary agent:

If you would be so kind as to allow me to submit this humble query letter so you might consider, just for a minute, about thinking about seeing the book proposal, I would be most flattered. Of course, I'm but a lowly writer and would totally understand if you considered this query letter to be far less than perfect...

I'm sorry but I'm not writing that type of letter. How can I? I'm a direct response copywriter.

So the query letter I wrote was a direct response letter, albeit toned down a bit. It had all the ingredients...benefit headline...hit them between the eyes first paragraph...benefits not to action.

I used direct response copywriting techniques for a query letter I sent to a literary agent and the letter got the result I wanted. I did NOT use the standard query letter template.

And most importantly, I know what makes a literary agent tick so the query letter was a sales conversation between me and the agent. And I know this agent likes the type of book the author is writing. I know what literary agents want.

And the letter worked. The one literary agent who has seen the query letter has asked to see the proposal. That's 100 per cent response.

For my copywriting site,, go here.