Monday, November 19, 2012


The dreaded query with a little work can become an incredible query. As with the pitch (September post), research the publishers to determine who is interested in acquiring what. Don’t waste anyone’s time submitting manuscripts to publishers who are not interested in what you have to offer. Two caveats. Don’t submit to publishers whose legitimacy is suspect. Check them out on the internet, with RWA, or with fellow authors. Unless you are self-publishing, don’t submit to publishers who expect you to pay up front for any services they offer or who require you to purchase a large number of copies of your books.

THE QUERY LETTER.  Read the submissions info on the publisher's website.  Send only what the publisher requests using the correct format, and follow the rules. Failure to do so tells the publisher a lot. Letters are most appreciated when they are addressed to an individual or, if a name is not available, sent to the correct email address. State what you have to offer in a polite manner. If you have had previous contact with the publisher/editor or are responding to specific call for submissions, mention it. Put the most important information in the first paragraph. Include the succinct logline (July post), the name of the book, the genre (including the sexual orientation of characters), word count, and period. Note: Some publishers don’t allow multiple submissions (the same manuscripts sent simultaneously to several publishers). Others ask that you inform them if there are multiple submissions.

The second section expands on the content of the submission - specifically the goal, motivation, and conflict of the major characters. The resolution of the story can also be included. The third and final section should include your publishing credits and any information that might make the publisher/editor read more. For example, if your education/job requires good writing skills or your employment provides you with specialized knowledge in your genre, include it.  Avoid trivial personal details. Close politely. Be sure to include your comprehensive contact information – name, pen name, email, mailing address, phone.   PROOF and PROOF again. 

Paste the letter into your email program, attach the requested documents in the appropriate format, and hit SEND. Record in a ledger what you sent, to whom you sent it, and the date. When you receive a reply, record the date, the response, and the contact person in the ledger. Write a polite thank you note, regardless of the publisher's response.
Next month, Pulling it ALL Together & a Downloadable File      

Rita Bay with Rita Bay's Blog

"Into the Lyons' Den" Champagne Books, August, 2012
"The Aegis" Champagne Books, April, 2013
"Her Teddy Bare" Champagne Book Group, Carnal Passions May, 2013
"Finding Eve" Champagne Books, September, 2013


January Bain said...

Excellant advice, Rita!

Big Mike said...

Good post Rita. For anyone that needs an example, I placed the two query letters that got me contracts on my first two novels 6 years ago on my website. Go to bottom of my home page and click on "Copyright 2007". It'll take ya to a hidden page with the query letter.

Michael Davis (
Author of the Year (2008 and 2009)
Award of Excellence (2012)

Julie Eberhart Painter said...

Very good advice. How well you follow their rules/guidelines is like an interview. It tells the person to whom you are submitting whether you'll be on time, respectiful and a team player, or whethr you are a loose cannon. There are lots of famous loose cannons, but they didn't shoot off on the "first date."

Rita Bay said...

Thank you for the comments. Appreciate the samples, Mike. Something concrete is always helpful to have. The comment about the loose cannon is SO true. Some authors don't realize the importance of sticking to the rules and playing with the team. We don't always have the big picture. Rita Bay