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Will Your Query Letter Sell Your Manuscript?

“Will Your Query Letter Sell Your Manuscript?” by Joan Y. Edwards
Does your query letter have what It takes? Does it contain all the components of a good query letter? Does it have all the necessary ingredients? Will your query letter sell your manuscript? Check it out for all the components listed below:
A great query letter:

  1. Contains a great selling pitch that leaves the agent or publisher so moved by the story that they can’t wait to see your full manuscript.
  2. Convinces an editor or agent that they are the right publisher or agent for this book.
  3. Compares 1-3 books published by this publisher or represented by this agent.
  4. Explains why you are the best person to write this story and gives your credentials.
  5. Thanks the editor or agent for considering your work.
  6. Asks the question: “May I send you my manuscript?”
  7. Tells when you expect to hear from them.
  8. Gives name, address, city, state, zip code, phone number, email, websites, and blogs,
  9. Includes a self-addressed stamped envelope (SASE) when the guidelines ask for one.
  10. Follows the guidelines of the editor or agent.

Here’s my article: “Components of a Good Query Letter.” You might enjoy it: http://joanyedwards.com/components-of-a-good-query-letter/
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Components of a Good Query Letter

Components of a Good Query Letter

by Joan Y. Edwards

A query letter is a letter sent to a publisher, editor, or agent asking for permission to send a full manuscript, first three chapters, synopsis, or proposal for a writing project. A query letter can be sent by email or snail mail. It should be single-spaced.  Check the submission guidelines of the publisher, editor, or agent before sending one. Get the correct names and snail mail address, phone number, and email address. I put all this information in the heading of my draft letter.

Publisher A:
Favorite Publishing Co., Inc
Arnold Q. Like, Editor
350 Broadway
New York, New York 10001

We do not publish children’s books.
We publish adult fiction and non-fiction.
Query us first through snail mail.

Publisher B:
Books of all Kinds Literary Agency,
Susie Q. Doddikins, Agent
5400 Literary Lane
Racine, Wisconsin 33333

We only represent children’s and adult books.
Query through online form.
We do not accept snail mail submissions.
We will respond within 3 months.

Publisher C:

Short Works Publishing Co.
4444 Jim Dandy Lane
Spiderville, California 77777

We represent children and adults short works.
We publish fiction and non-fiction
We publish picture books, chapter books, short stories
We do not publish middle grade, young adult, or adult novels

Email complete manuscript as Word document (doc).
Snail mail is accepted.

Quiz for you:
1. If your manuscript is a fictional children’s picture book about butterflies.
Which publisher/agent above is right for it? Choice A, B, C, or None of these.

  1. If your manuscript is an adult novel, where could you send it?
    Which publisher/agent above is right for it? Choice A, B, C, or None of these.
  2. If you have a short story, where could you send it?
    Which publisher/agent above is right for it? Choice A, B, C, or None of these.

Components of a Good Draft Query Letter

  1. Follows the guidelines of the publisher or agent
  • Heading: Gives all your contact information

Phone Number
Email address

  1. Heading: Gives the name, address, and phone number of agency.
    Gives the exact name of the Editor or Agent you are querying

Name of Agency
Name of Agent
City, State, Zip Code
Phone Number
Email Address
Guidelines (copy link and text of guidelines into the draft query, take them out in final query to be sent)

  1. First paragraph: Contains your 25 word pitch
  • Second paragraph: Contains a short paragraph similar to the following: I hope you’ll publish my book or I hope you’ll be my agent. I believe you’re right for this book because:
    Tell three reasons or choose the best reason why you want this publisher or agent.
    Tell about your favorite book the publisher or agent published.

You believe Name of Agency or Publisher is the right agent or publisher for your manuscript because

Reason 1. You love the fill in the blank: humor, information, mystery of a book that they wrote or helped get published.

Reason 2. Tell how your book is similar to one of their successful publications.

Reason 3. If the guidelines mention certain interests of publisher or agent, mention it, if it is related to your book.

  1. Tell 3 reasons or choose the best reason why you’re the best person to write this story.
    Give writing credits.
    Tell why you wrote this story.
    Mention your website and/or blog with number of visitors/subscribers each month or year.
  • Question: May I send you? and Thank You Paragraph.
    Thank you for considering my work. May I send you (Name of your manuscript)? I understand according to your guidelines that you will respond in three months. I look forward to hearing from you.
  • Sincerely yours,
    Your Name

SAMPLE QUERY LETTER (Purely Fictional names, addresses, and books)

Stanley Success Bradford
7331 Long Road
Euphoria, Texas 89899

Books of all Kinds Literary Agency
Susie Q. Doddikins, Agent
5400 Literary Lane
Racine, Wisconsin 33333

Re: Bradford -“The Pig That Won the Race “

Dear Ms. Doddikins:

Porky hated racing, but entered the race to help save Farmer in the Dell’s farm. He didn’t realize that all contestants had to take a bath. Can a bubble bath entice him to follow through to save the farm or will all the animals be sold?

I like the high quality books and authors you represent as an agent. I especially enjoy the humor and the organization tips in the New York Best Seller, “Feng Shueying Your Pig Sty” by Lisa Swineberg. I read in your blog that you grew up on a farm.

I grew up on a farm, too. We raised pigs. I’ve studied pigs for three years at the University of Pigdom and documented my findings about getting pigs to bathe. I have written ten books on the Best Seller List. My website, www.StanleySuccessBradford.com  and www.bloggingaboutpigs.wordsexpress.com  blog have a thousand visitors each month.

Thank you for considering “The Pig That Won the Race.” May I send you the complete manuscript? I understand that you will send your decision in three months. I look forward to hearing from you.

Sincerely yours,

Stanley Success Bradford

Here are four other sources with samples and/or information about eye-catching, heart-touching queries.

  1. Allena Tapia. About.com. “A Sample Query:”
  2. Charlotte Dillon “Query” http://www.charlottedillon.com/query.html
  3. Agent Query.com. “How to Write a Query Letter” http://www.agentquery.com/writer_hq.aspx
  4. Joan Y. Edwards. “Components of a Good Query Letter:” https://www.joanyedwards.com/components-of-a-good-query-letter/
  5. Query Shark http://queryshark.blogspot.com/ 

Good luck with writing your successful query letter.

Never Give Up!
Joan Y. Edwards

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