Friday, August 16, 2013

Query Letter Top 10 Do's and Don'ts

Now that you've printed out and thought about the basic Anatomy of a Query Letter, you're ready to get to work! As part of my Writers Paying it Forward series, here are my Query Letter Top 10 Do's and Don'ts for ensuring your email to your A-list of agents/editors doesn't get automatically deleted.

Remember: the goal of your query letter/email is to entice the agent/editor, so that you can GET YOUR MANUSCRIPT READ--a partial or (*gasp*) full manuscript request is the ultimate prize for following the query letter rules. 

I would recommend printing out the below, and stapling it to the back of your Anatomy of a Query Letter, as I will be referencing these tips in the next few weeks as we examine Actual Query Letters that Worked from other writers...and even some that didn't!

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Query Letter Top 10 Do’s and Don’ts:
  1. DO double-check the agent’s name and email address and if he/she is still accepting submissions. Be sure to have done your homework and have a list of which agents actually WANT your material. It's not like testing done spaghetti; don't throw your query out there, willy-nilly, to see what sticks. Spend the time doing your research and you are more likely to get a request for a manuscript.
  2. DO send exactly what’s asked for in the agent’s/publisher’s submission guidelines. Nothing more, nothing less. Yes, that means if they want a synopsis, you must write one!
  3. DO put your own email address and phone number on the bottom or in the body of your query letter to facilitate a reply. Nothing screams, “I don’t care about my book,” quicker than not enclosing a way for the editor/agent to contact you!
  4. DO spell check, grammar check and have your query letter proofread by someone with that skill set. So very many query letters that I see from writers fail in this simple step!
  5. DO thank agents that took the time to consider your manuscript, even if it was a rejection.
  6. DON’T call your book a “fictional novel” because a novel is fiction.
  7. DON’T use fancy colors, borders, fonts, etc. for your query letter email. You are a professional writer, so use standard formatting for business letters. What this means in an email: flush left margins, paragraph return between paragraphs, Times New Roman or Courier font, and NO ATTACHMENTS unless the agent/editor has specifically requested them. Your query won't make it through the virus filters of most agencies/publishers with unsolicited attachments.
  8. DON’T mention in your query how much relatives, friends, etc. loved your book.  Unless you are related to a famous writer!
  9. DON’T take rejections personally, and never retaliate against an agent/publisher for a rejection. File it. Move on.
  10. DON’T stop writing and submitting your work!
Did this help? If so, drop me a line below, or contact me through my website at www.DylanNewton.comWhile you're there, sign up for my Newton Newsletter so you'll be the first to know about freebies, author swag, speaking engagements, book signings and other events!

Want some other resources for query letters? Here are a few of my favorites:

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