A good query letter sent to the right editor not only increases your chances of a sale, but is also the most effective way to pre-sell an idea. This comprehensive guide to query letters gives you essential writing advice and the tools you need to craft powerfully persuasive queries that connect with editors and agents. It answers commonly asked questions, such as, What is a query letter? What does a query letter format look like? How do I send an agent a query letter? You'll learn how to write a query letter; how to recognize, develop, target, and pre-sell ideas; hook an editor with a tantalizing lead; and sell yourself as the writer for the subject. With dozens of sample query letters, this guide is a must-have for every writer's bookshelf. About the Author
Wendy Burt has authored four books and thousands of articles, short stories, and essays. She currently lives in Colorado and is a full-time freelance writer, editor and PR consultant. Book Excerpt
If you're planning to pitch article ideas to magazine editors or book ideas to agents or publishers, you're going to need a query letter about 99 percent of the time. This is a one-page letter used to get an editor or agent interested in the work you'd like to send him/her. Sometimes you'll be querying to send a piece you've already completed. In other cases, you'll essentially be asking to determine if you should write the piece, as in the case of a nonfiction book idea you have. (Yes, you can sell a nonfiction book to a publisher based on an idea.)
A query letter is an opportunity to use your brilliance to not only impress an editor (or agent) with your idea, but also demonstrate your ability to follow the specific submission guidelines the publisher or agency gives. In the case of a nonfiction magazine article, for example, you'll use the query to tell the editor what angle and topic you'll cover, whom you'll interview, how long the piece will be, whether you can supply photographs, how your piece will help readers, and for which section of the magazine the piece fits. Whether you send this letter via e-mail or snail mail will be dictated by the guidelines.
In a nutshell, your query is your sales pitch. You're selling your writing before the editor has even read your manuscript. This is no time to be shy (or conceited); getting published is as much about marketing yourself as it is about the quality of your writing. Maybe more so.