Today, I’d like to finish up my interview with writer, Dianne Butts, who’s been sharing from her expertise on writing query letters. Here’s Dianne…
Here are the final six pieces of information to include when writing queries:
11. The proposed length given in word count. If you’re querying a book, you could state word count or pages. Make sure your length is within the word count accepted by the publication/publisher.
12. Which rights are you offering? It is assumed you are offering first rights unless you state otherwise. If your piece has been published before, and/or if you are offering the piece elsewhere at the same time, be sure to mention that it is a reprint and/or a simultaneous submission.
13. When it will be completed. Say, “I can send the article within two weeks of your request…” or whatever you can do. Give yourself plenty of time–writing always seems to take longer than we writers think it will!
14. Your writing credits. If you don’t have any publishing credits yet, you need not draw attention to that. If you have been published, give the editor an idea of how often and list a few of your finest credits.
15. Ask if you can send the manuscript. “May I send you ‘Conquering the Dreaded Query Letter’?”
16. Close. Thank the editor for his or her time and consideration. You can say you look forward to hearing from them.
Other things to keep in mind when you query:
Keep your query to one page (even if sending by e-mail). In rare occasions you might go over one page, but chances are whatever you’re writing right now is not one of those rare occasions! Condense and edit your letter down to one page. (Without messing with the margins or font size!) If you can’t edit your letter to one page, it may say to the editor that you can’t write concisely, follow directions, or write to word counts.
When targeting your query letters:
Study the entry for the publication or publisher in a market guide, obtain the writers’ guidelines, and study sample copies of the periodical or the publisher’s catalog (often it’s online). Make sure what you want to send “fits” the publication/publisher. It’s glaringly obvious when writers don’t do this. Don’t submit to a market you’ve never seen or haven’t yet studied their guidelines, copies, or catalogs.
Doing your homework in this area will prove to the publisher that you have thoughtfully considered where you are sending your work, and will instantly put you above most of the submissions they receive.
Dianne Butts has written for over 50 different Christian print magazines and seventeen books. If you’d like to learn more about writing query letters, consider Dianne’s pamphlet, “Conquering the Dreaded Query Letter,” available for $3.95 plus shipping at http://www.dianneebutts.com/conquering_the_dreaded_query_letter.htm.
Dianne also offers a free, monthly e-zine for writers, Dianne E. Butts About Writing. Subscribe at her website, www.DianneEButts.com. And, be sure to follow Dianne’s adventures and challenges in self-publishing her book at www.DeliverMeBook.blogspot.com.