Writing Tip Thursday: Query Letter Do’s and Don’ts

Working here at Cedar Fort is a great opportunity for an aspiring writer, like myself, to pick up tricks of the trade and really immerse myself in the world of book publishing. In a previous post I discussed things I’ve learned about how you can work with the publisher to promote you and your book. Today we’re going to take a step back and look at things you can do in your query letter that will help the Acquisitions editors give your manuscript the time of day.Query letters, Query letter, writing a query letter, submission letter, & Submission cover letter

Our head Acquisitions editor, Jennifer, was kind enough to share these lists with me.

Do’s
1. Give us as much marketing information as possible. Include the number of friends you have on facebook, followers on your blog, the number of email contacts you have, the name of your website, schedule speaking engagements, and anything that shows us that you have thought about how you can help sell your book. (See Rebecca Talley’s Guest Post for ways to increase your online presence.)
2. Tell us why you’re qualified to write your book (this is more applicable for nonfiction but we’d still like to know for all of the genres); what writing experience have you had? What education or work/life experience qualifies you to write about the subject? etc.
3. Proof read your letter. If it is cluttered with typos or addressed to another publisher, we are not likely to give your manuscript much time.

Don’ts
1. Don’t tell us that you can’t or don’t know how to market your book.
2. Don’t tell us that we’re making a big mistake if we decide not to publish your book.
3. Don’t send us your manuscript in the first place if you’re going to publish with another publisher.

A successful query letter is your key to getting the editors excited for your manuscript and gives them a taste of what it will be like to work with you. If you are unprofessional in your communications, a “No” will be quick in coming. Being professional, clear and succinct in your query letter may just be the fresh air the editor is looking for.

"Query letters," "Query letter," "writing a query letter," "submission letter," & "Submission cover letter."Finally, don’t forget to include your contact info at the bottom of your letter–otherwise we can’t tell you “Yes. We’d love to see your manuscript!”

For a sample query letter and more advice go here.

Are there any other questions you’d like to ask our editors?

2 thoughts on “Writing Tip Thursday: Query Letter Do’s and Don’ts

  • March 31, 2011 at 12:13 pm
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    Thanks for the tips, I don’t have a book in the works but my wife had tried to send her cookbook to many publishing houses and was not accepted. It is a tight market and there is a reason why so many people are just self publishing through Amazon CreateSpace or Scribd.

    • March 31, 2011 at 12:24 pm
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      You’re welcome. It’s true that self publishing is quite popular, but you have to be careful with it too. As the author you are taking on a LOT more work for your self, and as a consumer you don’t always get something that is up to par, like it would be coming from a publishing house with reputation.
      There are definitely pros and cons both ways. You’ll have to study it out and figure out what course will work the best for you.

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