Queries Can Make Your Knees Shake

Day 17 :  #atozchallenge

Writing a query for the first time can make your knees shake and tremble, or so I’ve heard.

What is a query?

It is a letter of communication pitching either a short form or long form manuscript to a publisher or agent. Short forms include magazine articles, short stories, or poems. Long form – novels, screenplays, non-fiction books, or a collection.

What does a query include?

Essential components of a successful query should include these three things.

  1. The hook – a one-sentence summary of the book.
  2. The pitch – 2 to 3 paragraphs which support your hook and should include who (the protagonist), what (the conflict they face), where (setting), when (time frame), why (stakes) and resolution.
  3. A bio – one paragraph or less, to describe your writing credits and platform.

I had the privilege of working on the query for my first novel with Luke Reynolds, author of Keep Calm and Query On (perfect title). His input and direction were invaluable. 415aJ0aVUiL

Where to send it:

Finding the correct agency to send your query will take some research. You want to make sure you’re sending your query to the correct agency and agent. Visit Barnes & Nobles, the library or Amazon and check out books similar to yours. Knowing the competition is key to getting your query and book to the right person and place. And remember, always address the agent by name, never “To Whom it may concern.”

To find the agents best suited for your book, check out Writer’s Market and Land a Literary Agent

Are you ready to query? Want to know more about writing the perfect Query? Stay calm and check out these resources.

If you want to know more about Luke , check out his guest blog for the Cow Pasture Chronicles. You can check it out here: Walking the Walls of a Writer’s Life.

I’d love to hear your comments. Talk to me. Tell me your story and look for me on Facebook at SheilaMGood,  PinterestBloglovinTwitter@sheilamgood, and Contently.


Cover Letter Basics

Day 3: 

Cover letters – don’t we dread writing them? When so many magazines have an automated submission process, what is the purpose?

Why do a Cover Letter?Cover Letter

It’s a way to introduce yourself to the editor, and where I come from, an introduction is a polite thing to do.

It tells the editor the basics about your submission – title, word count, and is a good opportunity to indicate your familiarity with the magazine.

Things Not to do:

  1. Don’t screw with the guidelines. Read and follow them to the tee. Taking a gamble won’t win you any points but a straight up rejection.
  2. If you’ve developed a template, make sure you’ve updated the date, editor, magazine, story, and word count. Don’t be careless. It’s not only bad form but bad manners to call someone by another’s name.
  3. Don’t get long-winded. Editors are busy people. One to two paragraphs works fine. Remember this is a cover letter, not a query.
  4. Don’t address the letter, “To Whom it may concern.” It signals the editor that you’re unfamiliar with their magazine.
  5. Don’t wax sentimental about your personal life. It’s a distraction, pegs you as an amateur, and will likely land your submission on the slush pile.

The Basic Things to Do:

  1. Follow the guidelines.
  2. Keep the cover letter to a single page.
  3. Make it simple and succinct.
  4. Limit your bio to no more than a paragraph.
  5. Address the editor by full name and title.
  6. Be mindful of grammar. It matters even in the cover letter.
  7. Include your name, address, email, and phone number as on any business letter.
  8. Include the title of your story, genre, and word count.
  9. Indicate whether it’s a simultaneous submission.
  10. Stick to the format and font outlined in the guidelines; every magazine has their preference.
  11. Keep a copy for your file and link it to the manuscript you submitted.
  12. Update your submission log, including the expected date to hear back/or contest deadline.

What do you think about cover letters? Do they make a difference? Ready to find out, check out my list of Call for Submissions in the sidebar and good luck.

I’d love to hear your comments. Talk to me. Tell me your story and look for me on Facebook at SheilaMGood,  PinterestBloglovinTwitter@sheilagood, and Contently.