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  1. #1

    Default Query Letter Tips

    I'll try to get back to the forum a couple times a day to add new tips to this thread.
    And, of course, I'm hoping you'll add tips of your own so we can discuss them.

    Tip: In your query letter (and anywhere else) don't say "My novel entitle XXX." The very you're looking for is "titled." This one error can brand you as an amateur and that may be enough for an agent or publisher to deep six your query--and never ask for follow up chapters. Not sure it will feel as dreadful to feature editors and radio hosts, but it's still good to avoid, right? (-:

    I'll be back later with another tip.
  2. #2


    Carolyn: So you're saying we should just use an appositive, right? Something like "My novel XXX"? Or leave out "my novel" and just give the title, genre, and word count. It will be pretty obvious that it's a novel.
  3. #3


    MaryAnne. That would sure be one way to handle it. But "titled" is OK. Just not ENtitled. Another freaquently-made error is saying that we're submitting a 'fictional novel." A "novel" by definition is fiction. I do think that it may be important to at least mention novel somewhere. Or "novella" or "collection of short stories" or whatever. Just for clarity. Some agents/editors/publishers etc deal with nonfiction, memoirs, poetry, etc. So the clearer we can be, the better. I love you appositive approach, though.
  4. #4


    I already mentioned this to Mary Anne. (We have a thread going on FB, too! (-: ) But we shouldn't say "fictional novel." Another dead giveaway of amateur status. Novels are, by definition, fictional.

    Here's another one. Keep exclamation points in a very minimum. One of the agents I interviewed for The Frugal Editor ( said that overdone exclamation marks remind her of a barking chijuajua on speed. I think that says it all, don't you?
  5. #5


    I think this is tip #4. It's a silly one, but here goes. Don't try to make your letter (or media kit or anything else) stand out with gimmicks like goldenrod paper, glitter, a misleading subject line, etc. There are ways to spark up a query letter and still have it feel authentic. More on those later. (-:
  6. #6


    Carolyn: I keep exclamation points to a minimum everywhere. One reason is because a statement should be strong enough to make an impact without such props. Another is because when there's a good reason to use them, they'll do their job better when they haven't already been overused.
  7. #7


    Exactly, Mary Anne. When we are tempted to use an exclamation point (even one!), we might double check the strength of our verb before we do it! Use a thesaurus to see if we can come up with a stronger (but appropriate) verb! (-:
  8. #8


    Got a question for you, Carolyn. Some experts on querying agents---well, they act like they're experts, anyhow---claim that in writing a query letter, an author should skip the intro and cut to chase. She shouldn't say, "Thank you for your listing in the 'Publisher's Weekly' website. If you are open to submissions, please allow me to offer you __________, a complete historical romance of _______ words . . . "

    Rather, as soon as the author types the semicolon in the salutation, she should start the pitch. Then she can close with info about word count and contact info.

    Which way do you recommend?
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    Default Is an electronic publisher query different?

    Rather, as soon as the author types the semicolon in the salutation, she should start the pitch. Then she can close with info about word count and contact info.

    Which way do you recommend?[/QUOTE]

    I was also wondering, as someone who writes for and works in electronic publishing if you think that elctronic publisher queries submissions are done very differently?
    Stephen Kessel
    Cyberworld Publishing
    for Inspirational Gay Romance
    just out Amnad's Bequest
  10. #10


    Stephen, this seems to be the big problem with query letter advice. One of the agents I interviewed said something like this (not a direct quote but close): If an author can't write a query letter that is adapted to their title and their voice, if they follow a template slavishly, then I have to wonder if they can write at all. In other words, she isn't too tempted to read chapters, proposals or anything else. That's one of the reasons I wait to post sample letters when I teach query letters. Every query letter should be different. The advice given here is OK advice. It's just that it's given as if it's written in stone that I object to. I'll post a sample query letter later this afternoon. Earlier than I'd planned, but as long as the subject has come up. (-:

    Hope this helps. Stay tuned. (-:
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