1. Benjamin915
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    Benjamin915 New Member

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    The power of query letters?

    Discussion in 'Publishing' started by Benjamin915, Mar 29, 2011.

    Can anyone tell me if they've had a lot of luck with literary agents and/or publishers by way of query letters? Are there any directories that people here can swear by like the Writers Guide to Agents and Publishers or Jeff Herman's guide to book publishers? A lot of them say they will read query letters but even then sometimes you never hear back. Just curious if anyone has had any luck.
     
  2. Trish
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    Trish I've been deleted.. again Contributor

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    I haven't finished the book that I want published yet :D Have you made sure you're sending them to agents that are representing your genre, and did you look up sample query letters to make sure that you've done everything right?

    Even doing so, some agents just won't be interested..

    Oh and I forgot, did you remember to send a SASE with every one? A lot of agents won't get back to you just for forgetting this. They get tons of letters, yours has to be perfect.
     
  3. MidnightPhoenix
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    MidnightPhoenix Contributing Member

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    I haven’t finished my book but I do get the `writing magazine.` and this is what it says, sorry for how long it is but hopefully this will help you and others. Good luck.
    How to write an irresistible covering letter.
    Make your submission stand out with an informative introduction to yourself and your work, advises Emma Shipley.
    The first thing publishers see when they open your submission package is the covering letter. It doesn’t matter how good your synopsis and sample chapters are, if you fail to impress with this vital document then your submission will be rejected. So to ensure you make an excellent first impression, follow the advice of the experts…
    Before you start writing your covering letter, you need to find the right publisher for your manuscript. If your book is a non-fiction guide to growing your own vegetables, you need to dins a publisher who produces non-fiction gardening books. Sending it to a publisher who specialises in short story romances will result in instant rejection. It is also essential that you check their submission guidelines and follow them precisely. They may specify how long the covering letter should be or what you should include.
    What to include:-
    Generally, there are three things your letter should focus on: you, your book and reasons to publish it ‘When writing about yourself, aim for a paragraph summarising relevant points about what qualifies you to write this book,’ advises Stewart Ferris, author and co-founder of Summersdale Publishers. `The publisher needs to know if you have had any publishing successes before, if you have any relevant qualifications for writing your book, and if you plan to write any more books on the same subject.’ Lauren Parsons, publishing manager at Legend Press, agrees: `All is relative whether it’s magazine articles, short stories, or self-published titles, as these show the author is experienced in the industry and passionate about publishing their work.’
    Obviously, you also need to tell the publisher about your book. ‘Always include a short paragraph about your book, so who, where, when and what happens,’ says author Tamsyn Murray. This should not be given in great detail - you can do that in your synopsis. Here, it needs to tempt the publisher to want to find out more. `Imagine you’re writing the publisher’s blurb that they will use to describe your book on the back cover, in their catalogue and on their website,` says Stewart. ‘There’s no need to give away the full plot - leave it open for the editor to wonder how it resolves.`
    In your covering letter you also need to give the publisher reasons to publish your book. ‘List any significant reasons why the publisher’s risk will be small in taking on your book,’ says Stewart. ‘Perhaps you have contacts in media who have promised to help your publicise the book. Or you’ve done some research into the likely level of demand for your book and can demonstrate that the market is crying out for it. Or you’re a lecturer on a subject and are sure the students at your college and others will all buy this book. Or you have all the ability to sell the book through your own business.’
    Show off your strengths
    Julie McCutchen, a professional publishing consultant, recommends that authors include a Compelling summary of the most important information about your book,’ she says. ‘Fiction writers may extend this to two or three short sentences,’ Here is one she wrote for her own books:
    The writer’s Journey: From inspiration to Publication demystifies the world of publishing and outlines the steps non-fiction writers need to take to present their work to agents and publishers professionally and with confidence.
    For non- fiction cover letter, Julie advises you include: Compelling Key Sentence, what makes your book different, who it is for, your passion for writing it, your credibility as the author, plus a mention of your platform/key sales, marketing or promotional opportunities. For fiction, include: Compelling Key Sentence(s), key themes/ features of your story, genre, length, why you wrote the book, something about you/ background, life experience, influences as a writer, writing career and how you see the book in terms of the market ie who for, is it first in a series etc.
    Tamsyn Murray, a young author who mostly writes novels for children and teens, and the occasional short story, sent the letter on the down below to a literary agent, who requested to see her manuscript, and this led to the publication of her first book. Although this is an initial query letter, the same rules apply to a covering letter.

    (Get the name of the publisher/editor right)
    Dear Anne Example,

    (State where you found their details and why you are approaching them.)

    I saw your details on the CWIG newsletter and wondered if you’d be interested in seeing my novel for teen/ young adults.

    (Tell the publisher about your book)

    My So-Called Afterlife is a 35,000 word, stand alone novel. It’s a supernatural bittersweet comedy about life after death and follows Lucy Shaw as she adjusts to being a ghost.


    ‘So, you’re fifteen year old girl on your way to THE best New Year party in London. Dressed to kill, you’ve got a certain school heartthrob on your mind and you won’t rest until you’ve snogged him to within an inch of his life. And if the rest of the school happens to see it and marvels at your general fabulousness, so much better.

    (Give your blurb or compelling key sentence)

    The next thing you know, you’re staring down at your lifeless body and suddenly, everything you know has changed. For Lucy Shaw, the phrase Life’s a bitch and then you die never seemed more true.’

    (Tell the publisher about yourself)

    I started writing in January this year. I’ve has short stories accepted by My Weekly and I’m currently writing an adult chicklit novel (Pimp My Life) and a chapter book of around 5,000 words for 6-8 year olds (Harriet Houdini- Stunt Bunny).

    I’d be happy to send either a sample of My So-Called Afterlife or the full manuscript if you feel you’d like to see more.

    (End on a positive note)

    I look forward to hearing from you in due course.


    Regards

    Tamsyn Murray.

    :) Again, sorry for how long it is, and i hope this will help you and other writers :)
     
  4. Elgaisma
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    Elgaisma Contributing Member Contributor

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    I haven't been accepted but have had one request for a manuscript (I went on to mess up the author questionairre and I was borderline anyway), two none standard responses and one agent who was retiring and phoned me, she encouraged me to rewrite my first book with what i had learned in my year of writing. Out of around eight submissions that isn't bad.

    I am in the UK so our submissions are slightly different - make sure you keep it professional and work out your books theme, main conflict and goal that then should give a nice concise summary of your book and characters.
     
  5. TheSpiderJoe
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    TheSpiderJoe Senior Member

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    I think a query letter can go a long way, especially if that's all the agent/publisher wants to see.

    After finishing my book, I spent almost 2-3 weeks writing a query letter and I've got to tell you, it was much harder than writing the original manuscript. Finding the write words to sell your book is difficult. I even asked some of my "beta-readers" to help me write something good but that sadly didn't help much.

    One thing I did was take my finished query letter to my professors and professors in the English department who I did not know in order to get an unbiased opinion. Faculty could be an essential resource. A lot of the ones I spoke with were either published authors or in the process of getting published. They helped me organize my query letter and instilled a level of confidence in me I never thought possible.

    So far, I've received only a couple of rejection letters from agents. I'm only doing email queries at this point so it's an easy delivery and easy notification system.
     
  6. erik martin
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    erik martin Contributing Member

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    I've been querying two books and have yet to get representation. However, I have learned more and more about query letters as I've gone. AgentQuery Connect is a great site to learn about all things query-related.
     
  7. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    i hope you've been querying for them separately... if not, that could explain why you've had no nibbles...
     
  8. erik martin
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    erik martin Contributing Member

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    Yes, separately of course.
     

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