Kathie's Corner

You’ve polished your manuscript to a fine shine. You’ve researched publishing houses and found several that publish your genre. Now you are ready to prepare your query letter. I’ve heard several authors say that the query letter, with a short synopsis of their book, was almost harder to write than their manuscript.

I know you’ve heard this before, but your query letter is your only chance to make a good first impression with the publishing house.  When the acquisition manager opens your email, they want to see the information their website has requested laid out in a clear manner. They want to be able to read your short synopsis and know what your story is about. They want to be able to tell, at a glance, what genre the book is, how many words are in the manuscript, and whether it is complete or the first book in a series.

It is a bonus if you’ve included their name, spelled correctly, in the salutation. They then know that you did your research.

What they don’t want to read is you directing them to go to your website to get the information. They don’t want to hear how you deserve this shot at publication because your ex-husband ran off with your best friend and took the dog you raised from a puppy with them. A sob story does not get you moved to the head of the queue.

Since you’ve done your research, you know what the publishing house is looking for in a submission letter. Your letter should be concise, free of grammatical and spelling errors, and be complete with all the details that the house has asked for.

With regard to the information requested, make sure what you send is correct. That sounds like common sense, right? But it’s not. Typos in your address, email address, or phone number can be disastrous. If the publishing house wants to get in contact with you, you want them to be able to do so! Always double check your information.

Before you start sending out queries, I highly suggest that you start a spreadsheet of some kind. This spreadsheet should include:

  • publishing house name
  • name of acquisition manager
  • date you submitted your query
  • date they say you can contact them if you don’t get a response
  • date you heard back from them
  • date you sign your contract (Writing is a lot like being a gardener. You plant the seeds and hope something will come up, and this line will keep the hope growing!)

You take your writing seriously, and you want the publishing house to take you seriously. If your query letter is full of misspelled words, text-speak, or no capital letters (as if sent from a phone), the acquisition manager may wonder how polished your manuscript is. I’ve heard that some publishing houses and agents will delete a query letter that has even one misspelled word.

You want your letter to look as professional as possible. Write Divas can help you make the best first impression that you can.

Next time we’ll talk about your author bio and your short synopsis. Have a great week!

Kathie’s Corner is a bi-monthly column by Kathie Spitz. Kathie has two blogs, a book review blog, www.firstpagetothelast.com and a recipe blog, http://kathiesfavoriterecipes.blogspot.com/

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