Saturday, February 07, 2009

Are you ready to send a query letter?

Sending your work out for review by agents and editors is a big and important step in the publishing process. Many times, what you send is the only basis for the big decision that has to be made. In most cases, the person on the other end doesn't know you and can only judge your work by the contents of the package.  So, how do you make a good first impression? Review this handy checklist before you send out your work.

  • Believe in your work. Be able to sum it up succinctly and passionately. If you're not enthusiastic and confident about your project, you're not ready to submit.

  • Prepare your manuscript professionally. That includes using good paper, printer and standard formatting. Then package it per submission guidelines. Send only what is requested.

  • Perfect your pitch/query letter.

    • Don't try to sum up whole book in the letter. For fiction, describe your character, setting and obstacle. For nonfiction, present the problem and how your book offers a solution or new information.

    • Why you are uniquely qualified to write this book? What is your training, education and related experience?

    • Who is your audience? (Tip: Anyone who can fog a mirror is not the right answer.) Be as specific as possible.

    • Why have you selected this agent or editor? Do not send out submissions en masse with the same letter to everyone.

  • Understand what an agent does and does not do. Understand publishing is a business, and the agent makes a business, not a personal, decision.

  • Know the industry lingo: platform, competing books, audience/climate.

Demonstrate that you are knowledgeable about the publishing process. Contacting agents is more than writing a letter. You are expected to know how to format your letter and all the parts of the submission package.

Remember, the agent is not responsible for coaching you in the basics of the industry. The job of the agent is to sell your manuscript to a publisher and then negotiate the best possible rights and deal for you. If you can make the agent's job easier by sending the material he or she needs to get that job done, you will increase your chances of acceptance.

You'll find detailed instructions on how to write a query letter and prepare a submission package in 4Ps to Publishing Success: Get Your Manuscript Off Your Desk & Into Print. Available as a workbook or ebook, 4Ps to Publishing Success is a complete step-by-step guide to getting published. Or, you can purchase only the information you need in Chapter 7 of 4Ps Buy the ChapterGet a full description of all the 4Ps Products here>>>

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