How to write a query letter

If you are a writer or a poet, a query letter is your most important tool. The query letter is sent to publishers to ask whether or not a given manuscript is of interest. If a query letter is sent back requesting a manuscript, you’ve given yourself a leg up over other writers sending manuscripts directly. An editor has seen and approved your idea, you can be certain that your work will be read, and it’s highly probable that your letters will get a glance from that publisher in the future.
So how does one write a query letter? Take a look at the sample letter provided, then follow the five steps to create a query letter of your own:

Sample Query Letter

Dear (Publisher’s name here),

What would you think if pigs could fly? If dogs could talk? If goats could drive? that’s what happens in the “Magical World of Baa-Land,” where animals act human and humans behave…well, like animals.

I am the mother of four children, and I read to them nightly. Their influence has led me to create my two other children’s books, “Farmer Bob” and “The Cows Come Home,” published by Children’s Press of New Hampshire. I am also the author of several articles on child growth and development that were published in Family Magazine last Spring.

I am certain that if you read my book, you’ll find that it’s not baaad. A self-addressed stamped envelope has been provided. Thank you for your time, and I look forward to hearing from you at the address listed above.

Sincerely,

Mrs. Winning Writer

Steps to Creating Your Own Query Letter

Steps One: Stay Calm

Many writers face rejection over and over again. Keep letters calm and businesslike. Some writers make the mistake of allowing their emotions to spill into the letter they are writing. These letters are thrown away immediately. Make sure that your letter is only one page and to-the-point.

Step Two: Check and Re-check.

No one is going to hire a writer if they have a typo on the first thing that they submit for review. Check your query letter multiple times to make sure that it is correct in spelling and grammar. Make sure that your writing is clear and indicates the structure of your manuscript.

Step Three: Grab the Reader’s Attention.

Your first sentence must be a masterpiece of ingenuity. It can be a fact, a riddle, a joke, or even a piece of what you are submitting. This is the most important part of the letter. Publishers see thousands of letters a day, and this is one of the only ways that you can make yours stand out.

Step Four: Include Qualifications

Make sure that you include any writing experience that you have had. If you have published a book, include the book name and publisher. Submit any relevant clips that may further aid or explain your manuscript.

Step Five: The Finishing Touches

A publisher will not return a manuscript unless you send a self-addressed stamped envelope. This practice has become customary, and a writer is considered rude if he/she does not supply return postage. Also, end the letter by thanking the reader for their time, and pointing out your contact details should they wish to contact you. Make sure to sign and address your letter neatly. Good luck!

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