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 How to Write a Good Query Letter to Agents and Publishers: The Do's and Don'ts (By: Tina Samuels)

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PostSubject: How to Write a Good Query Letter to Agents and Publishers: The Do's and Don'ts (By: Tina Samuels)   Tue Nov 08, 2011 6:44 pm

How to Write a Good Query Letter to Agents and Publishers: The Do's and Don'ts

The Dos

Do make sure that your query never goes over one page in length. Keep it short and simple and easy to read. My query letters are always one page as I know that I need not waste the editor or agent's time. Do double check and address your query letter to a specific agent or editor. Addressing a query to "Editor" or to a literary agency as a whole reeks of amateur. Make sure that the specific editor or agent still works at the publication or agency that you are querying. This can be accomplished by a quick phone call prior to sending. Those few minute of double checking can really help your endeavors.

Do make sure that you have a professional and to-the-point query when sending to an agency that clearly states the title of your book. Some say that your book should be mentioned, by name, three times in a query but as long as you call attention to it clearly you should be fine. Making the query humourous or cute doesn't bode well in many offices, so keep it simple and keep it official. Make sure that you tell them both the word count and the genre of the piece. This word count and genre should go near the end of the first paragraph of the query letter.

Do your homework beforehand. When querying a publication or agent make sure that they have either represented books like the one that you are seeking representation for, or that the publication does publish the genre of the piece that you are seeking publication. If it's an agency, draw attention to the fact that the agent has represented "X" and that your book "Y" is comparable to that.

Do give several ways for the agent or publication to reach you. List your phone, your cell, your mailing address, and your email address all on the query. This is so that they have all the necessary information to get in touch with you quickly and not be searching for your contact information. Remember that query letters get passed around, and generally the envelope is lost. If you are using postal mail for your query letter, add in a SASE (Self addressed stamped envelope) for easier and quicker replies.

Do proof all your query letter work. Check for misspellings, for grammar errors, and for punctuation goofs. Make sure that the letter uses proper business letter spacing with it being a 12 point font (generally Courier or Times New Roman) and single spaced. Keep your alignment to the left without any paragraph indents. Just space between the paragraphs and you will be fine.

The Don'ts


Don't compare your book as the next Da Vinci Code, or any bestselling popular book. Don't say that it is the definitive work of its nature. Just keep humble and don't think that you are going to be the next big thing.

Don't send gifts with your query or call attention to it with fanfare. You're not going to bribe them into accepting your work just because you send a giftbasket or something. Other things in this nature include brightly colored paper or spraying it with perfume. Don't use very large font.

Don't leave out your contact information or the SASE. Even though it is listed in the Do's list, this is a huge thing.

Don't look like a newbie. This means don't Fedex or overnight your query, don't say that you found them in a database or by googling "literary agent". Don't outright say that you have never been published or that you are sorry you're not published more. Be bold and confident, yet humble. Do not say that you have a great "fiction novel", all novels are fiction.

Don't add things that they didn't ask for. Don't send sample chapters or clips if they don't specific them, don't send the manuscript if they are only asking for a writing sample, and don't just send them your whole manuscript without a query. If you do query and get the go ahead, make sure that your cover letter draws attention to the fact that they did indeed ask for it.

Keeping strict guidance to simple do's and don'ts will keep your querying in control. It will keep you from making simple mistakes that may cost you a chance of a lifetime. Querying a publication or agency doesn't have to be a guessing game if you breathe, read carefully their guidelines, and follow them to the letter.

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How to Write a Good Query Letter to Agents and Publishers: The Do's and Don'ts (By: Tina Samuels)
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