We’re talking about query letters today. Most places you’ll send your manuscript to will ask for one of these letters.
So, what is a query letter?
Query Letter: is a formal letter sent to magazine editors, literary agents and sometimes publishing houses or companies. Writers write query letters to propose writing ideas.
I like to think of them as cover letters. Your manuscript is applying for the role of being published. You’re not going to want to lie, but you’re going to want to make it sound like the best thing that the publisher has ever heard of. Spend some time working on these letters! You want all your hard work to be published and a good query letter is going to help you.
What goes into a query letter? Here are the tips and some examples:
- The examples:
- Writer’s Digest – How to Write the Perfect Query Letter
- Address the person you’re writing to by name. This holds true in the job market as well as the literary market. It shows that you’ve done your research, which means you take time and effort for your work. It also will establish a bit more a rapport with the person you’re writing too.
- Focus should be on your work. This is what you’re trying to sell first and foremost – not yourself, though you do want to introduce yourself a bit later in your work. You’re going to want your letter to start like your novel – you want them to be hooked by the first sentence.
- Explain why you went with that particular agent. It’s important you know a little bit about that agent—namely, what other books they represent. In your query, be sure to mention one or two of these books and briefly explain why you think your book is a good fit in that group. With this approach as well you know through your research where to pitch your idea and to whom.
- Mention your platform (if you have one). Do you have people following you and your work? If so on what type of social media and how many of them? This shows that you’re a guaranteed buy if they publish you because you have people interested in your writing. If you don’t have a platform yet – get started on one or consider starting one and then don’t mention that you have nothing in your query letter. (PS we’ll be talking about this later this month.)
- Don’t be arrogant. No one likes this. You’re also not published or haven’t published this piece yet and you never will if your going to be an ass about it. At risk of repeating myself, don’t be this person. I’m not saying you shouldn’t brag a little bit, but make sure it is going to help, not hinder, your cause.
- Don’t include your age. This can lead to a bias against you and it really doesn’t help.
- Agents know they’re busy. You don’t have to tell them that they are busy they already know how busy they are. Plus it’s wasted space that you can be filling up with how great your manuscript is.
- NY Book Editors has a great article to read about writing a great query letter and goes over some of the more strict rules on what should and shouldn’t be included.
That’s what I have for you guys today! I hope you have a great weekend planned head of you! On Tuesday we’re going to talk about traditional publishing in more depth – I did promise this to you and I am going to deliver.