The Query Letter

 

In your summary, do NOT worry about "spoiling" the read. The editor WANTS and NEEDS to know how your story turns out. A good style for this summary is what we call "flap copy": the blurb that you read on the book jacket of a novel. Some insights on this are here, here, and here. Feeling cynical? Read this.

 

See "winning" examples at Charlotte Dillon's website.

 

Sample query letters here.

 

http://nybookeditors.com/2015/12/how-to-write-a-darn-good-query-letter/

 

http://www.writersdigest.com/editor-blogs/guide-to-literary-agents/successful-queries

 

 

 

 

Getting Published:  Query Letter Basics

 

CHOOSE your market (publisher) CAREFULLY.

Know your audience:

Editor's name (spell correctly!!), or if you do not have the name, you may omit the salutation and go straight into your first paragraph

Know what genres they publish, and that your genre is included

If you have actually read and liked something done by this editor/publisher, DO mention it

 

Professional business format for letter:

Letterhead downloads available here and here – but KEEP IT SIMPLE.

Single-space paragraphs

Blank line between paragraphs

10 to 12-pt font, min. 1-inch margins

Salutation: Dear Mr./Ms. Lastname OR (if gender unknown) Dear Firstname Lastname.

Signoff: Sincerely, then leave enough space for your signature (3-4 blank lines) before typing your full name

SIGN in INK for mailing.

Electronic signatures: The career center at Bowdoin College suggests that "if you are submitting your letter electronically, you have several options:  your name in a script font, your name preceded by /s/ to indicate an electronic signature, or a scanned image of your signature inserted as a small picture in the signature space."

 

 

After addresses, salutations, etc.:

 

Paragraph 1:

No warmup.  Jump straight into a tantalizing teaser of your novel. See *note on Paragraph 2 for suggested style. 

 

Paragraph 2:

Give novel title in italics;  describe genre, subject, length (predicted, if not finished) and audience, and give a SHORT summary*. Ask that the editor/agent consider reading/representing.

 

*Do NOT worry about "spoiling" the read. The editor WANTS and NEEDS to know how your story turns out. A good style for this summary is what we call "flap copy": the blurb that you read on the book jacket of a novel. Some insights on this are here, here, and here. Feeling cynical? Read this.

 

Paragraph 3:

More about your novel: what made you write it?  what other book/s is it like? why is it important, OR what does it offer that other books don't?  who is most likely to be interested in reading it?

 

Paragraph 4: 

About you:  your relationship to the novel, such as what inspired it or how it connects to your life;  your credentials as a writer (good grades in English, writing in spare time, loving to read, awards or recognition in school, submitting to or winning contests, things you've published).  Enclose tearsheet (photocopy of published writing) if relevant.

 

Paragraph 5:

Why you are submitting to this market; what you admire about the market;  ways in which your work might appeal to this publication's readers.  Thank editor/agent for their consideration. 

 

Signoff and signature (see above)

 

Attach/Include:

Tearsheets/clips (if applicable)

If printed/mailed: SASE (self-addressed stamped envelope)

 

What you should NOT do in your query letter (from http://www.poewar.com/how-to-write-a-query-letter/)

    * Do not write a query letter of more than one page in length. 

    * Do not mention who has rejected the piece before.

    * Do not tell the editor how long and hard you have been working on this piece.

    * Do not mention the assistance of others.

    * Do not threaten, browbeat, bully, or brag. 

    * Do not tell them that the piece still needs work.

    * Do not request advice, comments, criticism or analysis.

    * Do not talk about how thrilling it would be to be published.

    * Do not include inappropriate or off-subject information about yourself.

    * Do not discuss price or payment.

    * Do not give your social security number.

    * Do not give or discuss copyright information.

    * Do not wear out your welcome by writing too much or failing to get to the point.

    * Do not use inappropriate content or language.

    * Do not send inappropriate, off-subject samples.

    * Do not allow any typos or errors in spelling, grammar, punctuation!

(from http://www.poewar.com/how-to-write-a-query-letter/)