Query Letters: Important Tips & Warnings

Part 5 of QueImage result for query letterry Letters That Work


Welcome to Part 5 of the Query Letters That Work! Mini-Course

A Word to the Wise:  Important Do’s and Don’ts – Tips and Warnings

So, far in Query Letters that Work! a mini-course, we’ve covnents of Query Letters That Work Part Onered:

Now, we’re going to take a look at some important things to remember when writing and submitting your query letters:

Note:  For more in-depth explanations of the tips, warnings and things to remember – see Parts 1 – 4 of Query Letters that Work!

  • Keep your letter to a single page!

While it might seem like a good idea to include more (and more!) information, doing so will actually hurt your chances rather than working to your advantage. (This doesn’t include attachments, such as: clips).

Editors and agents want to (and expect to!) see your ability to write concisely and effectively and to not have to spend a lot of time reading to determine that!  Remember, they are inundated with queries on a regular and ongoing basis.  Why bother with 2 and 3 page queries, when they have a stack of 100, single page ones that effectively show topic, subtopics and the ability to connect with the reader?  (Hint:  they won’t!)

  • Include relevant published clipsif you have them (unless the publication specifically requests otherwise).
  • Always, make sure the tone and the topic fits the publication and the readership!

Click here for tips on researching and getting to know your audience.

Do your homework!

  • When querying by mail, always include a SASE(self-addressed, stamped envelope).

You won’t always receive a response, but doing this encourages the editor or agent to respond and enables them to do so easier and faster.

  • Don’t submit the same idea to multiple publishers at the same time!

The only exceptions to this are when a publisher specifically stipulates that this is acceptable or when you notify all of the publishers you are submitting to that you are doing this.    In general though, it is best to wait for a response from one publisher before submitting the same idea to another.

As freelance writers, we need to make money from our profession to survive; we can’t wait forever to hear back from one publisher before pitching our awesome ideas to another.  So, what do you do if you haven’t heard back, but you really need to move forward? Stay tuned to Writers Bra!  I will posting soon all about proper follow-up etiquette with publishers, editors and agents.

  • When using qualifications and experience in lieu of writing credentials, make certain that experience is relevant and viable!

If your background has no relevance to the topic you are pitching, leave it out of your query letter altogether.  Click here to learn more about how to use your life experiences in place of writing credentials.  (Hint:  This is excellent for someone who has never been published!)

  • Make sure your query letter is in business format and has the appropriate look!

Click here to learn more about how to format your letter and exactly what it should (and shouldn’t!) look like.

This is a business; you are the owner of your business; and you need to treat publishers with the respect and professionalism that their position warrants.   After all, they are the gatekeepers to your publishing world.

  • Always, always, ALWAYS have someone else proofread your query letter for you!

Writers make terrible proofreaders of their own writings.  Why?  Quite simply, we see what’s supposed to be there instead of what’s really there.

Now, I’m not talking about creatively; most of us do a pretty darn good job with that part  .  But, grammar and spelling; especially spelling…  trust me; if the word is supposed to have an apostrophe, we’ll see an apostrophe.  If the word is supposed be spelled “too” and not “to”… we’re going to see “too”.

Don’t get me wrong; we’ll likely catch a lot of our own mistakes, but we’re just as likely to leave behind a few too (especially if we’ve read the piece dozens of times during the writing process!).

Anyway, why even take that chance?  Do you really want your idea tossed out simply because you made a few typos?  Threw in an extra “the”?  Wrote “good darn”, instead of “darn good”?

While these may not seem like such a big deal, they can be… particularly when an editor already has 75 other query letters sitting on his or her desk.

I’m not saying typos and grammar issues will exclude you from the running; if your idea is good enough and the mistakes are minimal, you just might make it through.  But, why take a chance?

Be safe!  Have a friend or colleague proof your query letters and other  important work before putting it out there…

  • Quality matters!

This kind of goes without saying.  Most of the tips above are all about just that; quality.

Your query letter needs to be your “best foot forward”.  This is precisely how editors and agents will view it.

If your query letter is not in the right format, doesn’t follow the standard process, is sloppy in appearanceaddresses the publisher too casually, etc. etc…. it’s going to hurt you as a writer. What the editor will take away from that is, “If that’s their best effort, what can I expect the finished “product” to be like?”  Common sense.

And, with that . . .

I hope your query letters are going well!  Don’t forget to shout-out your publishing and writing successes through Writers Bra Bally-hoo! We want to hear all about it and we want to help you get it out to the world!

Stay tuned.  Still to come in Query Letters that Work! A Mini-Course:

  • 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

Plus! I’ve added a topic:

  • A Few Key Differences When Querying to Publish Your Book

Wishing you continued writing success,

Founder and Creator
Writers Bra

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