Excerpt about Query Letters from Speech, Post 2

Recently, I gave a one hour speech to a writing group and have decided to post segments of it here over the next few weeks. All of the speech is in response to questions I had received in advance and then prepared my answers for the group. This is Post 2 of the speech on my blog.

Remember, these are just my opinions and suggestions. Nothing is set in stone. Other writers could answer quite differently and argue with me over my answers. What works for one person may not work for another.

On to the question about query letters…First, I’m going to suggest several websites you MUST visit! Soak up as much knowledge as you can. All of these sites have awesome information and examples of everything pertaining to writing and publishing. They are wonderful!! And you may be well aware of them already!   www.guidetoliteraryagents.com and www.writersmarket.com, www.bookmarket.com and http://jakonrath.blogspot.com. Note that Writersmarket is a subscription based – as in a fee – website & I’m not sure how much is accessible without subscribing. Another thing – subscribe to an actual writing magazine. I LOVE Writer’s Digest! And I just recently subscribed to Poets & Writers and am awaiting the first issue! 

Back to query letters – Honestly, you shouldn’t even worry about a query letter until you have written the complete book. Get it done first. Then seriously proofread and revise it. Now, if you’re writing NON-fiction, sometimes you don’t have to have the book completed to send out query letters – and non-fiction books usually will involve a proposal, too. I’m not familiar with proposals since I write fiction.

I composed my query letter using examples from guidetoliteraryagents.com and writersmarket.com. GOOD query letters should include: WHY you’re contacting them specifically and that you’re requesting representation, the title of your manuscript, the word count, the genre or genres of your book, a short hook or summary about the novel (not more than a few sentences), where you’ve been published (and if nowhere, then DON’T bring that subject up), what kind of author platform you have built-up (Are you aware of what the term author platform means?! That’s one of the topics coming up), also, if the book is a series mention that, a request to send them other materials (which could mean THE actual manuscript or maybe the first 3 chapters). Also the query letter should be one page.
If you’re sending a query letter, then you have the place and possibly a person’s name to address it to. If there are ANY instructions they’ve posted on sending query letters – FOLLOW THE INSTRUCTIONS EXACTLY. They may request up front a 1 or 2 page synopsis – which creating one of those is another topic in itself! Or they may want the first chapter up to three chapters sent with the query letter. Even those chapters need to be formatted properly to submit. And the agent or publisher you’re submitting to should have posted exactly what to send, how they want any additional items formatted, whether they prefer snail mail or email.

Again, I highly recommend visiting those websites I’ve mentioned, as all the suggestions, standard examples and specifics are readily available to assist you in creating a query letter, a synopsis, a hook plus oodles more.

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That’s it for today! I’ll post another segment from my speech within a few days and it will be more info about Submissions. Happy Writing and Reading!!!

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