Habit 5: Consistently Send Out Query Letters

Many writers are afraid to send out query letters. They believe that they will be rejected by editors even before they submit their manuscripts. This can be frustrating and anxiety-provoking. It can take time to overcome this negative mindset once it sets in. Ideally, it is best not to develop these negative attitudes towards query letter writing in the first place. But this is easier said than done. The good news is that you can write a winning query letter. All you need is to develop a few skills, devise a checklist and a willingness to learn the most effective ways to write a query letter. You don’t have to freeze at the thought of sending out a query letter. In fact, you will probably never get your books published unless you regularly send out queries. There are many reasons why writers worry about sending out query letters. Sometimes no matter what writers do, they can become stuck in a rut. A dread and fear can set in, paralyzing you from querying an editor for months or even years. This can be detrimental to your progress and success. Some writers are even overwhelmed at the thought of writing a query letter. They have a lot of wonderful ideas. But to regularly research potential publishers is not something they want to do. Some writers even believe it’s a waste of time. Yet, sending out queries is crucially important to your ability to pitch your ideas effectively. There are many things that you can do to overcome these negative feelings. A lot of it hinges on knowing the mechanics of writing query letters. If you know how to write a query letter, you may be more inclined to send one out. Therefore, below, I will include some simple instructions on how to format a query letter. I will be covering how to write query letters in more detail in another e-book to be published soon. So, stay tuned. Formatting the Query letter Although this is the least important part of writing a query letter, it still merits some discussion since if you don’t write your letter properly it can show a lack of professionalism. So, here are a few elements of a well-formatted query letter. Please use this as a checklist when writing your very first query letter. Elements of a well-formatted query letter: A decent letterhead You can design a basic letterhead on your computer simply by printing your name and address at the top of the page in an attractive but not excessively fancy font. A business-style body Use block or modified block style when writing the body of your letter. Always include a blank line between paragraphs and don’t indent more than five spaces (if you indent at all). Include contact information Your letterhead should include complete contact information, including your full name, address, telephone number, fax number, and e-mail address. It isn’t necessary to include your URL. You can include your website in the credentials section. A formal salutation Unless you know the editor personally, don’t use first names. If you’re not sure whether the editor is male or female, you should use the editor’s title. Clean, spell-check the letter Make sure that you don’t send out a query riddled with typos or grammatical errors. This is a real faux pas! Don’t rely solely on your computer spell-checker either. Visually proofread your query several times before sending it out. Provide a SASE (Self-addressed Stamped Envelope) Don’t use a #9 envelope for your SASE. Use a full-size business envelope (#10), folded in thirds. Be sure it has adequate postage. Take the time to make sure that all these elements are in place before sending your query letter. Okay, that’s it. Once you have all these elements together, it is time to send in your query. But before you do that, I would like you to take the time to submit it to me for assessment. Therefore, sending out queries consistently can ensure that your work is out there. As you send out manuscripts, you can keep patiently writing and not worrying about outcomes as much. That is one important practise of a patient writer.