Tuesday, September 30, 2008


The query letter is what is going to get your foot in the door. Are you getting rejection upon rejection? Maybe it is the query letter and not your novel at all.

In the query letter to the publisher you will become your best marketing tool. You need to sell yourself to the publisher and not giving them a good enough nibble of your story may cost you the possibility of getting your wonderful masterpiece accepted.

You’ve finished your novel (or article), you’ve revised it, reworked it, taken the advice of your peers and changed what needed changing and now it is ready.

But wait…you’ll need to query the editor first and see if this is something that they would be interested in. An agent working on commission is only going to accept what will make him money. You need to tell them (the agent, publisher or editor) that this piece of art is going to sell, sell, sell!

Now think of cutting your entire manuscript down to one page. That’s right, you’re going to sell yourself in one page and give them the gold mine that they’ve been searching for.
Don’t go on and on about yourself, there will be plenty of time for that AFTER he accepts your work.

Just like starting your novel/article you’ll want a hook (and please make it dangle with a tasty worm so you can reel him in.) Tell him a little of what your story is about by asking a ‘what if’ question and leave him dangling for the answer. Don’t spill it all in a paragraph.

Try not to bloat the imagery. Bloating will give you an adverb filled telling query when you want to SHOW them what makes your book special. Try not to tell him it is a Stephen King like novel or this will send a red flag to them that you’re not a pro in this challenging field.

Whatever you do, don’t give him (editor/agent) all of the chilling details of your ending. Allow him to savor what you’ve written thus far and leave him begging for more. Your end to the query letter will also be the place to put in the ‘you’ part. Your experience and credits you have to your name. Give him the manuscript length and ask if he’d be willing to give it a read, thanking him for his time. He may want sample chapters and this is when you will send him three for a taste of your art. SASE and send it off!

You should hear back from them in three to four weeks, if not, a brief cordial note asking if he is considering your request.

If a rejection comes in, it was your query that didn’t sell him. This is why the query is of vital importance. Make it SHINE brighter than the morning sun!

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Hi Joni,

Solid advice for those working on the query. I wonder if you could also suggest a book for anyone interested in going further into the subject.