Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Do's and Don'ts of Writing a Query Letter by Joan Marie Galat

Presenting ideas to help develop your own unique methods to improve your writing, Joan Marie Galat presents a "do's and don'ts" list and sample letters to help sell your manuscript and market your book.

  • use a professional, formal business letter format
  • select good quality white paper and black ink
  • choose Times New Roman or another easy-to-read commonly used font
  • address your letter to a specific editor—by name
  • spell the name correctly
  • make sure your submission is appropriate for the publishing house
  • follow the publisher’s guidelines completely
  • include a hook, mini-synopsis, and writer’s biography
  • limit your query letter to a single page
  • ensure spelling, grammar, and punctuation are absolutely perfect
  • include a self addressed stamped envelope—called a S.A.S.E.
  • leave one inch margins all around manuscript pages and double space text
  • respond quickly when an editor or agent shows interest
  • read your letter out loud to help catch errors
Do not:
  • use unusual fonts, colored paper, or other formatting tricks to stand out
  • use a tiny font to make your letter fit on one page
  • call your novel a “fiction novel” (avoid redundancy!)
  • use or discuss pseudonyms
  • query more than one piece of work per letter
  • mention previous rejections
  • state that you have never been published or that you write as a hobby
  • call yourself an amateur
  • tell the editor the manuscript needs polishing
  • ask for editing advice
  • discuss copyrights or payment
  • describe how good it is or how much work you put into it
  • try to be cute (editors do not come running out of suspense to find out what happens next)
  • tell them your friends love it
  • mention that you are unpublished
  • compare yourself to other writers
  • send an original copy of your manuscript
Sample query letters (click to enlarge image):


JOAN MARIE GALAT is the author of the Dot to Dot in the Sky astronomy series which offers a unique blend of storytelling and science. She has enthusiastically toured in Alberta, British Columbia, and Ontario, sharing her ability to take complex subjects and make them approachable. These experiences have inspired her passion to encourage others to develop the ability to communicate through the art of storytelling.

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