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Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Query Letters

Today we are going into the teaching mode for a certain group of writers. Discussion will be the ALL IMPORTANT query letters to sell yourself and your project. 

Query letters are necessary to sell your written work to literary agents and publishers of all kinds. It is your pitch or written job interview if you will.

All query letters should be short and sweet and summarize your entire project succinctly. Ideally, the query letter should be one page. And this one page tome must include, at minimum, your qualifications and a Synopsis of your entire project...No small feat! It takes practice to write a good query that grabs and holds interest.

Allena Tapia of About.com has written a short five (5) point guide to get you started on the right track. Although she uses a query letter for an article, it also applies, as she notes, to book publishers as well:

By Allena Tapia
The point of your query letter is to sell an article or an idea for an article. This is the format and medium in which magazines, newspapers and book editors expect to be approached.

1.Use standard header information. Address your letter directly to the editor in charge of queries and manuscripts. Do your homework, and avoid sending queries and pitches blindly.

2.Open with a statement that makes the editor want to keep reading. This could either be a brief statement about your particular qualifications for this article, or an attention-grabbing introduction to the idea itself.

3.Spend more time detailing your idea. This is the area to make the sale convincing. Why does the editor care about this? Is it really timely? Does it fit in perfectly with the publications mission? Will it hook her readers? Often this is a good place to use quotes, anecdotes or samples from you proposed article.

4.Convince the editor to hire you. If you haven't done this above, convince the editor that you are the most qualified writer for this angle. Perhaps you've got an inside scoop. Maybe your subject has promised you, in particular, the first interview. This would also be the place to mention past credits or significant education in the subject. Whatever it is that makes you the best person to write this article, here is where you sell it.

5.Never make the editor work harder. Be sure to close with your contact information highly visible. In addition make sure the editor knows exactly where he/she can follow up on you, the writer. Do you have any clips, or perhaps a website? Don't make them look- put it right out in plain sight!

What You Need:
•Name and address of the submissions editor
•Word processing program
•Shining idea that no sane editor would ever pass up
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