Welcome to Part 2: Query Letters that Work
While, as writers we are creative and our writing needs to show this, the actual process and format of putting together a query letter is formal.
In order to be taken seriously as a writer and considered for publication, your query letter needs to contain specific key parts and the letter needs to be formatted in business style format.
But, first let’s take a look at exactly what your query letter says about you.
Though brief, query letters show editors several key things:
- Whether or not you have an idea that fits with their readership and publication.
- How knowledgeable you are (or are not!) about the publication.
- Whether or not you are able to effectively connect with your target audience.
- What, if any, credentials or qualification you have.
- Whether your writing style is amateurish or professional and polished.
- Whether or not you have the expertise to write about the topic you are proposing.
- If you have a sound working knowledge of the language and lingo required to write the article.
- And, of course, a taste of your grammar and spelling skills.
Editors are highly skilled at spotting details quickly and effectively and usually have a great deal of experience in knowing what will work and what won’t for their readership. So, though query letters are but brief, one page introductions, they literally speak volumes to an editor.
Don’t let this scare or intimidate you though! This is actually good news for you . . .
Constructed well, your query letter can be a powerful tool for getting your writing out to the world!
Now, let’s talk about how to do just that!
What should you include in your query letter?
All query letters need to contain the following critical components:
- An attention grabbing introductory paragraph often referred to as the “hook”.
- A clear, concise, precise description of what you are offering the publication, also known as the “pitch”.
- A “body”in which you provide the details of your proposed piece.
- Your “credentials”and qualifications. (Don’t panic if you don’t have any! Remember, I’ll be covering this a bit later in the course.)
- And, the “close”; a final paragraph thanking the editor for their consideration, plus one final boostto illicit a response!
Along with some potential enclosures, these are your key components in a nutshell.
Every query letter that lands on an editor’s desk will (ok, should) have all of these same components. So, how do you make yours stand out? . . . and, in a good way?
That is exactly what I’ll be covering in Section 2 of Key Components of Query Letters That Work!
So, stay tuned!
Note: I realize this is focusing mostly on query letters for articles. I will still be covering the differences when applying the process to book manuscripts!
A bit (more!) about rejection . . .
Many times (many, many, many times!) you won’t receive any real explanation for the rejections you receive.
Remember when I said that rejections can be a good thing? Encouraging even?
If you receive feedback or criticism in a rejection . . . rejoice!
Most editors (and agents) don’t take the time to provide feedback.
Think about it . . .
They receive tons (tons!) of inquiries and manuscripts on a regular basis. They just don’t have the time to provide feedback, let alone quality feedback, to everyone. If they do provide any, they are most certainly making time to do so. And, why would any editor or agent make time in their busy schedule to provide explanations, feedback or criticism to a writer they aren’t even going to publish?
Exactly! If you are fortunate enough to get that feedback, take it as a sign that the editor or agent sees in you the potential to be published at some point in the near future. And, this is very encouraging indeed!
to be continued . . .
STILL TO COME IN THE “QUERY LETTERS THAT WORK” MINI-COURSE:
- Key Components of Query Letters That Work (Section 2: the “meat”)
- Key Traits and Characteristics of Winning Query Letters
- What to Do if You’ve Never Been Published and Don’t Have Any Writing Credentials
- A Word to the Wise: Important Do’s and Don’ts – Tips and Warnings
- Sample Query Letters
- Final Thoughts: Bringing It All Together & Things to Remember