Obviously a good summary of a great story is important. Writers need to cover the who, what, when, where, why, and how in just a couple paragraphs. They need a great hook. They need a quality story worthy of querying.
But beyond the synopsis, what else can a writer do to insure his query is the best it can be? It’s all in the details, and those little things are important.
Here’s a good checklist:
- Make sure the publisher accepts your genre. Don’t just judge by what they publish or a list elsewhere. Check their submission guidelines.
- Is the publisher currently open for submissions?
- Do they accept works that have already been self-published?
- Do they accept queries via email, snail mail, or through a form?
- Select the right editor or agent for your query. Get a name and spell it correctly.
- What do they want in a query? Query only? Synopsis or outline, too? Marketing plan? Other details? Send ONLY what they request.
- Make sure everything is the proper length and includes all details. A query letter should only be the equivalent of one page. A synopsis should be double spaced and 2-5 pages in length. An outline is also double spaced and 3-10 pages in length. A marketing plan should be one good-sized paragraph to one page and cover online and offline plans along with social sites and real-world memberships. A writer’s bio should be between a line or two to one paragraph.
- Include name, address, and email address in the query.
- Do they accept attachments? If not stated, assume they don’t.
- Send only one personalized query at a time - no mass emails.
- If mailing, send on white paper with black ink and include a SASE.
Beyond that, personalize each query according to what the publisher or agent requests or likes:
- Would comparing the manuscript to other published books be a plus or a minus?
- Are they open to author illustrations? (Most aren’t.)
- How much success with other publishers or self-published books should be noted?
Follow these simple guidelines and you’ll give your query the best possible chance.
I also had an article on Friday at Frugal Book Promotions - Ten Tips For Formatting a Book
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