Agents and Publishers want…
- to read a unique story
- to read a unique story that is error-free and well-written
- to know you did your homework
- to work with writers who are willing to work with them
Writers show that they satisfy these wants by writing a good query letter, and communicating professionalism. The internet is gorged with how-to’s on this topic but a solid query letter will be enhanced by following these pointers:
- Begin with a Pitch (100 words about the story):
- “[Title] is a [word-count] [genre/market] about…”
- Conclude the pitch with a hook that mentions the main character’s goal and how it all ends.
- Tailor the letter to each agent or publisher you are soliciting and say why you chose them.
- If you have a marketing plan, mention it.
- Insert biographical information about your credentials, awards, and previous publications, but don’t talk yourself up.
- Don’t editorialize and praise your own work.
Keep these tips in mind when you are ready to send your hard work out into the world. Remember, a well-written query is a great indicator that you are a competent writer. Do your best.
This post is the third in a series that aims to give you insights into the experience at the 2012 Florida Writers Association conference. The objective is straightforward: to share what I’ve learned. My ultimate goal is to encourage you to apply these lessons to your own writing life.
Catch up on what you missed:
Lessons from FWA 102: Networking at a Writing Conference
Lessons from FWA 101: the Royal Palm Literary Awards
What is your experience with querying? What questions do you have about writing a pitch?