Tuesday, April 23, 2013

The Query Letter

So I've seen it on every writer's based website......submit a query letter.

But what in the world is a query letter?

Well, by definition it is a formal letter written to agents or editors selling your story and yourself.  It's basically your first step.  If you're going to do traditional publishing, or looking to do some freelance magazine work to get your name out there, you're going to need to learn how to write a query letter.

Right now, I'm interested in doing some freelance writing for various religious and family based magazines.  Under the writer guidelines, they tell me to submit a query letter before submitting a manuscript.  Ok, but I've never even heard of a query letter before a few weeks ago, so where do I start?

Writer's Digest is a great website for aspiring writer's.  I recommend joining their site!  I'll summarize what I've learned about queries from all their information:

- Start strong.  Don't bother introducing yourself.  Instead, tell the agent / editor what type of story you have and include word count if possible. 

- Summarize your work.  This is where you really need to shine because if it's boring, you won't make it past this step.  I read that it's best to pretend this section of the letter is the back cover jacket of your book.  Make it pop!

- Why them?  Why that agent?  Why that magazine?  Know a little about that agent - what genre they represent or books they've published. 

- Try not to make it over a page. 

-Don't tell your age

-Don't tell agents you value their time (I saw this on the Writer's Digest page.  Basically, agents know they are busy and you've just proved that you can waste a sentence telling them what they already know instead of pitching them your idea.)

-Include any writer's credits that are meaningful. 

-Study other query letters.  Here's a link to books that have examples:

Ok, so it's a lot of pressure but at some point you're going to have to just buckle down and get it done.  If you want, feel free to post your own query letter below and our little growing community of 1millon word blog followers will give you feedback.

I'm going to try to write my first query letter very soon to a magazine.  I'll let you know how it goes!

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