Wednesday, May 23, 2012

The Query Letter

We really need to get back to the basics. I'm getting quite a few query letters that are all wrong and don't work. Actually, they insure that I don't look at the attached writing sample.

A query letter is a business letter that introduces the submitted work. It should be business sounding, not cute, clever, or mysterious.

It is important to realize that so many query letters come in daily that they all get a quick view, but only a few get more than a brief read. Sometimes I will reply and do a little coaching of what is missing, but most of the time I don't have that kind of time -- and it isn't my job.

First off the letter needs to be an email, not an attachment to an email. Secondly, address it properly. I don't think I've accepted any who began, "Dear Sir." The slightest bit of thought should tell anyone that I'm not a sir.

The letter needs to contain the basic information that tells me whether to keep reading or send a rejection letter. And believe me, I have no problem writing a rejection letter. I want to know the genera, the word count, the setting and year.

The query should not be filled with rhetorical questions or written in the voice of the main character. Tell me who you are and what makes you the person qualified to write this ms (what's your connection to the story?). The story should be described in an elevator pitch, that is one sentence.

Make sure it is a story that Cactus Rain will have a connection to, too. Know your publisher and send only material they are interested in publishing.

Tell me who might like this book; who is the target reader? Do not tell my that you write like xyz. That's been done. What is your writer's voice like? And again, who would enjoy this book? Believe me, the answer that everyone would love this book is not correct, and I don't think anyone in the industry would buy it.

End with your contact information and your real name.

Any questions?