Thursday, April 19, 2012

Q is for Query Letters - A to Z Challenge

Some people have asked me how to get published. Now let’s be clear, I don’t consider myself an expert on the subject, but I try to give advice based on my experience.

I give them my standard “be stubborn” message, because I really think that’s vital.

Next, write the book. From what I’ve encountered, if you’re a first time fiction writer, don’t bother looking for a publisher if you haven’t finished the book yet. Of course there are exceptions, but in general, write, edit, polish, and then start looking.

Now you face the question of agents. There are pros and cons, but it comes down to a personal decision. For the record, I don’t have one myself.

Finally you get to the dreaded query letter. You may be querying agents or publishers, but it amounts to pretty much the same thing. This is the letter (or email) you send to try to sell your book. It pretty much goes like this (minus all the snark and sarcasm, of course!):

Dear Publisher,

I’ve written this super fabulous book you simply have to publish or god will kill a kitten. *Insert amazing, irresistible plot using only a handful of words.*

Here’s the part where I tell you how much my manuscript resembles Twilight or whatever book is selling billions of copies in my genre. Let me also say that my writing voice, while incredibly unique, is also surprisingly similar to *insert best selling author here.*

Thanks for your time, but I’m sure you’ll find it’s been well spent since I’m about to become a best-seller.

I hate writing these letters. I find it difficult to sum up 70,000 words in a few sentences. I have a hard time self-promoting and telling publishers why they have to publish me. I think a lot of people have similar problems because there are many websites devoted to how to write a fantastic query letter. This isn't one of those. ;)

In any case, now begins the wait. This is the nerve-wracking part. Inevitably, there will be some rejection letters. Consider your first rejection as the first step to getting published. I think I had 30+ before I got anywhere. It’s also the exciting part. An agent or editor who likes your letter may ask for the first three chapters or so, a longer book summary, and/or the complete manuscript.

You want an easier method? Go to a writer’s conference and pitch your book to editors there. Woo hoo, no query letter!

Authors, what is your best advice to aspiring writers?


  1. On the other hand, at a conference you are face-to-face with the editor. For some of us, that can be just as scary as a query letter--or even worse! :^)

  2. Best advice to aspiring writers? Believe in yourself, take the leap and move forward. That's the time I succeeded!

    A to Z co-host