One Writer’s Journey

April 24, 2014

Query Letters

Filed under: Uncategorized — suebe @ 1:28 am
Tags: , ,

QueryI’ve been reading up on query letters lately because I’ve been writing query letters lately.  Ugh.  Not my favorite job.   There is so much that has to go into this one little bitty page.  Here are 5 tips to help you craft your own letters:

  1. E-mail header.  I love it when a publisher or agent’s guidelines tell me exactly what to include.  Mystery solved.  If not, remember that the subject of your email should include your book title and your name.  “Query” isn’t specific enough.
  2. Why this agent/editor?  Be specific about why you are contacting this person.  “You are next on my list” isn’t good enough.  Did you read an interview or hear this person speak at a conference?  Maybe you know one of their authors.  Let them know that you chose them with purpose.
  3. This is a book about…  Don’t leave the agent or editor wondering what your book is about.  Include a bit about your character including their name, their goal, and what stands in their way.  What is at risk if they fail?  You really need to make this section sing so include the most compelling facts about your story.
  4. Who is the expert?  This is for nonfiction writers.  If you aren’t an expert in your field, then give the editor some idea where you will get your expertise.  I recently landed a gig to write two ancient history texts.  Why?  Because I have degrees in anthropology and history.  I can evaluate the sources.  If you don’t have this kind of edge, who could you interview?  What sources do you plan to use?
  5. Writing credits.  So many writers through in everything but the kitchen sink when they share their credits with an agent or editor.  Only give them specifics about credits that matter.  You can include how many sales you have, but only list the publications that are in the same area.

I know I’ve just scratched the surface on how to write a query letter.  Here are three really good blug posts on the topic:

How Diet Mountain Dew Helped Me Sell a Story by author Kelly James-Enger

Making a Good Impression with Your Query Letter by agent Gemma Cooper

The Complete Guide to Query Letters that Get Manuscript Requests by editor Jane Friedman

Happy querying!


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