Sometimes the mere mention of a word will instill fear in the hears of writers everywhere.
A newbie writer may not even know what a query letter is, but if you have been writing for any length of time and trying to capture the attention of agents or publishers, then you will know how stress-inducing writing a eye-catching query letter can be. In today’s post, I wanted to share not only what Story Catcher Publishing will be looking for in query letters when we open for submissions later this Fall, but to also give you a few tips and links to better research what will work for your own journey into query letter writing…
QUERY LETTER WRITING DO’S:
- Address your letter to the correct person. I’ve been a female all my life, so when you decide to write me a query letter, please address me as Donna L Martin, Ms. Martin, or Ma’am. Any other title just shows me you have no clue who you’re trying to reach.
- Get it all on one page. Sending me an email with five pages of an ongoing chat will lose my interest. Be concise and to the point. If you don’t know whether you’ve gone over one page for your query letter, attempt to print it to view how many pages it will be. I like hard files on my authors, illustrators, formatters, etc, so I only want to have to print off one page to consider your story, not the equivalent of your entire book.
- Have a great hook. If your beginning paragraph goes on and on about how you even got around to writing your book, I’ll likely fall asleep before I get to the part why I should even READ your book. Give me something that catches my attention and I’ll probably ask for more!
- Include a strong bio. If you have won writing awards in the past, let me know. If you belong to professional organizations pertinent to the story in your query letter, let me know. Be sure to include all ways to contact you…Website, blog, social media, email, etc. If you’re just starting out and have little to no accomplishments to share, there is still a way to create an interesting bio.
- Make a connection. If we’ve met somewhere…author event, business event, online, grocery shopping…wherever it was, let me know! I connect with hundreds of people every day in different ways so my memory needs jogging every once in a while as to who you are. Maybe you’ve only “met” me through reading one of my books. That’s okay…tell me that!
QUERY LETTER WRITING DON’TS:
- It doesn’t matter to me if your kids loved the story or your second cousin twice removed thinks you wrote a NYT bestseller and I’d be a fool not to offer you a contract. I’m not being disrespectful to your family. I am being professional while I am conducting business and I expect you to do the same.
- Resist the urge to include anything in your query letter submission that I didn’t ask for. This includes the manuscript itself, pictures of cute drawings you think would look great in the final book, or your local bridge group can’t wait to see your name on the cover of your book. That won’t increase any interest I might have in your story. In fact, it will do the complete opposite because it will scream you aren’t ready to conduct your business in a professional manner.
- Being impatient for a response. Believe me, I understand the stress of waiting for some reply when you’ve sent your story out on submission. It can be nerve-wracking. And a lot of time, you don’t even receive a response at all which is twice as hard to deal with! I will start out giving myself 3-4 weeks to review query letters before responding. This give me adequate time to vet the authors I might want my team to work with, and still have a chance to respond individually to every writer that’s taken the time to reach out to Story Catcher Publishing. This might not be a viable practice in the future, but for now, I want to give respectful feedback to every person who tries to connect with me. So, please be patient!
- Combining multiple manuscripts in one query letter. If you have five different stories ready to submit, then write five different query letters. This is especially important if you write in different genres. You can’t do ANY story justice when you are trying to cram five different book viewpoints into a one-page query letter, so keep everything separate, okay?
- Putting your life on hold while you wait. That is the worst thing you can do for yourself and your writing career. It is demoralizing for YOU, and living in a suspending mental state prevents the flow of creativity. Keep writing. Send out more query letters. If I reach out to you with a request to read your manuscript only to find out you’ve sold it to someone else, I’ll be the first to do a happy dance for you! I’m here to support YOU as a future author, wherever that publishing path may lead you, not to get rich off your hard work.
- Picture Book Query Letter examples…https://www.bing.com/images/search?q=Children%27s+Picture+Book+Query+Letter&form=RESTAB&first=1
- How To Write Query Letters…https://www.bing.com/images/search?q=How+to+Write+Query+Letter&form=RESTAB&first=1
- Jane Friedman’s Tips On Writing Query Letters…https://www.janefriedman.com/query-letters/
- New York Book Editors Query Letter Tips…https://nybookeditors.com/2015/12/how-to-write-a-darn-good-query-letter/
- Writer’s Digest Query Writing Tips…https://www.writersdigest.com/getting-published/the-10-dos-and-donts-of-writing-a-query-letter
There you have it. Just some words of wisdom to help better your chances that your query letter will grab my attention and make me want to read more! And for a final bit of help to all you lovely writers out there, I’ve included a few links to help you learn more about writing a strong query letter. Good luck and I can’t wait to start reading YOUR query letters later this fall. Be sure to check back next week for more peaks into Story Catcher Publishing’s expansion!
Hybrid published author, Donna L Martin, has been writing since she was eight years old. She is a 4th Degree Black Belt in TaeKwonDo by day and a ‘ninja’ writer of flash fiction, children’s picture books, chapter books, young adult novels and inspirational essays by night. Donna offers occasional BOOK NOOK REVIEWS of great children’s books and offers WRITERLY WISDOM to new and established writers. She is a member of the Society of Children’s Book Writers & Illustrators, Alliance of Independent Authors, and Children’s Book Insider. Donna loves dark chocolate, going to the beach and adding to her growing book collection.
Want to connect?
LinkedIn: Donna L Martin/Story Catcher Publishing
Goodreads: Donna L Martin
Mail: Donna L Martin
c/o Story Catcher Publishing
P O Box 27788
Knoxville, Tn 37927