Wednesday, April 01, 2009

Ten Tips for Effective Queries...

Here at Writer's Digest Books we get a lot of questions from writers on how to craft query letters. And with good reason. The query letter is often the most important piece of the publishing puzzle--in many cases, it determines whether an editor or agent will read your manuscript. A good query letter makes a good first impression; a bad query letter earns a swift rejection. So here are a few query do's and dont's. Following these tips may help you get noticed among the stacks of queries piled up in editors' and agents' in boxes:


  1. DO opt for brightly colored paper and fun fonts. Your letter will stand out and you'll make the editor or agent who receives your work smile--and a happy editor or agent is more likely to request your manuscript. I little festive confetti in the envelope is also a nice touch.
  2. DO let editors and agents know that you've read your work to your kids or your grandchildren. This means a lot to them and proves you've got a story kids will love.
  3. DO compare your work to best-selling authors. You'll really suck in that editor or agent if you tell them, "My work is just like Dr. Seuss." OR "I'm certain I'm the next Stephenie Meyer."
  4. DO send your letter certified mail. Staff at publishers and agencies will know you're serious about getting published if you spend the extra money for this service and they have to sign for your envelope. And they'll certainly read your query right away.
  5. DON'T finish your novel before you start querying. Editors and agents would rather help you work through the writing process after they've seen a few sample chapters.
  6. DO boast. You know you've got a great book project. Tell then you're sure it will be a best-seller and likely win the Newbery. And mention your intention to appear on Oprah.
  7. DO go into a lot of detail about your manuscript. Your query should let the editor or agent know the plot of your story from beginning to end and give them details about every character in your story.
  8. DO let them know that you've hired an illustrator if you're a picture book writer. Editors and agents will be relieved they don't have to worry about who will illustrate your book after you've signed your contract.
  9. DO query about all your manuscripts at one time. Since you've got the editor's or agent's attention, why not give them a chance to hear about everything you have to offer?
  10. DON'T bother to mention that you've queried multiple editors or agents. That's really nobody else's business.
Keep these do's and don'ts in mind and you'll be published in no time!

And before you get back to writing, check out the newest Market Book we've added to our list.

18 comments:

Angie Frazier said...

LOL! It took me until the second "Do" to remember it is April Fools Day :-) I'm sooooo with it.

Livia said...

Nice. And remember to tell them that your grandkids think it's really good. After all, kids know best...
But on a more serious note, I assume that #9's presence on the list means that we actually should mention that we've queried multiple agents? Is that a general rule for all queries, or only after someone has shown interest?

Alice said...

I recommend that you do mention whether that you're sending multiple queries. It's a professional courtesy and good practice.

Beth said...

I get resumes from teachers looking for a job on a regular basis. I would freak out if confetti fell out all over my desk. Sheesh!

Vodka Mom said...

it's April 1- right?

Aaron_H said...

11. DO make sure to spell out the LESSON that your picture book teaches young children.

HA HA HA HA! Alice you're brilliant. Best of the April Fools I've seen on the web today. (Even better than the Gmail one...)

Joyce Lansky said...

If you really want to impress them, I think you should send a picture of your kids with your book. That way the editors can see the smiles on their little faces. Also, since editors love to edit, they'd be flattered if you sent your child's book report in for some editing too.

Mabel said...

Nice one! :>)
M

Kimberly Zook said...

LOL! I am reading your post in the early a.m. before my toddler wakes up and it's April 2nd, so I had to shake my head a couple of times to make sure I was reading it right! Wouldn't it be great to use that hot pink paper for the query! Thanks for the humorous post!

52 Days In The Garden said...

Alice -

As an Author who has been writing much of my life I appreciate articles such as this. Before motherhood days my time was devoted to broadcasting and then developing curriculum and "then" more diapers than I care to share.

The greatness of this was valuable writing time. My favorite part of the day was inventing bedtime stories. Even our grown children bring this up frequently. Usually these consisted of a new and exciting versions of the days "lessons learned." I am looking forward to applying your valuable tips and recommendations.

Thank you for blogging - Michelle

Loukia said...

Oh, gosh... I thought you were serious until half-way through. I was starting to think about what nice coloured paper I was going to buy... sheesh...

By the way, where can I buy your book? Do they sell it at Chapters? Thanks!

Janet said...

Still not sure about mentioning multiple queries. A good number of agents say not to bother. Everybody's making multiple queries. I only mention it if the guidelines call for it.

Letting anybody reading pages know of any other serious interest is a different matter, of course.

52 Days In The Garden said...

It would be valuable in the future for me to read other comments before I make mine.

The creative kid in me thought, "Brightly colored paper, yes, indeed!" So I printed it.

After my 7 am overview and morning cup of java - stunned - I woke-up to vaguely recognize (a forbidden typo and a Newbie moment). Oh, no! Not me...!

Did I really deserve this?

I have been a mischief-maker on April 1 for years and hadn't been "got" until now. HA! And in print - this tops it all. My kids would be wonderfully satisfied to know this.

I needed a great laugh today! Alice you get a smile and a high-five.

Suzanne Young said...

HAH! I love this Alice!!!

Sherry Dale Rogers said...

Ha, you almost had me there. Good one.

Emily Wing Smith said...

This is priceless! Too bad I missed it on April Fool's Day.

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