This book is ideal for writers of magazine articles, non-fiction books, or novels who want to write query letters to editors/agents that generate excitement and result in an invitation to submit more material.
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Books for writers
Whether you work on magazine articles, non-fiction, or novels, you must be able to write query letters that captivate editors/agents and result in an invitation to submit more of your work.
Crafting Irresistible Query Letters that Result in Publication teaches readers to find the "marketing slant" for their work-in-progress and how to write a compelling hook that draws editors/agents to read further. Using examples, resources, and a unique questionnaire, readers identify the essential components and style for each type of letter and start to develop key paragraphs of their own query. The book also covers query packages, editing tips, and how to do follow-ups. the book also discusses the art of the oral query, always a possibility...! Available in print and as an e-book.
All query letters are, first and foremost, sales pitches – promotional writing that gets you and your idea in through the publisher’s door and keeps you out of the slush pile. Queries also answer key questions that all editors and agents have in mind when they read them. These questions include:
• What is the idea and how is it going to be done? (State your idea and how you are going to approach the subject/theme.);
• Who is this article/book for? (For non-fiction books only, indicate the type and size of the audience/market.);
• Why is now a good time to publish this article/book? (Show the timeliness of your topic.)
• Why is this individual the ideal person to write it? (Briefly give your writing background and qualifications for writing on this topic.);
The last paragraph must ask the editor/agent to read more of your work – this is the call to action.
Queries need to be succinct, compelling, perhaps provocative, and always intriguing. Overall, the letter should provide a small, but hopefully, outstanding sample of your writing ability. I don’t want to frighten you off, but some students of mine average about 24 hours to craft their letters for books as so much is riding on them. All successful writers get input from others as they compose their queries and do much revision.
We all know the statistic – fiction gets a 99% rejection rate at the query stage – but this refers to all fiction queries. For those who work hard at crafting a zinger of a fiction query, the rejection rate drops to
about 75% (year 2000 figures). I couldn’t find stats for non-fiction queries, but intuition tells me it is a much lower rejection rate.
Let’s get one question out of the way right now – why not skip the query stage and send the article, ms, proposal, etc. directly to the editor/agent because it saves so much time?
Smart, eh? Well, not really, when we realise what happens to these unexpected packages that arrive at publishing houses in several mailbags/week! Yes, they are tipped into that slush pile we discussed previously.
Although approaching getting published this way seems to be more efficient to writers, editors and agents are simply too busy to do business this way. They do not have the time to wade through large documents to find work that they want to consider for publication. To them one-page query letters are the only way to cope with the relentless onslaught of material and they are wizards at finding a saleable article or book from them. Another reason that we should never mail unsolicited book mss has to do with their lack of essential information – manuscripts lack the marketing, promotional, and competition details that are so crucial to catching an editor’s eye….