Query Letter Basics

What Goes Into a Query Letter?
The key to writing an effective query letter is professionalism. A query letter is a brief, one page business letter containing two or three short paragraphs. This is your calling card so make it your best writing ever.
1) Introduction: title word count, category
2) Your Credentials: past publishing history or life experience that qualifies you as a writer
3) Salutation: thank the editor for his/her time
The first paragraph is your introduction. You need to give the title of your work, a word count, and attract the editor’s interest in your work. Also, if you are sending this as a simultaneous submission (sending this to more than one editor at the same time), let them know about it in this paragraph. Only send simultaneous submissions to editors who will accept them. Cheek the publisher’s guidelines to find this information.
Your credentials belong in the second paragraph. Before you have publishing credits to talk about, use this paragraph to tell the editor your personal reason for writing this piece. After you have been published, list your publishing credits instead. As your successes mount, pick the best three credits to list in this paragraph.
The third paragraph is your salutation. Thank the editor for their time considering the short stay or essay and let them know you are looking forward to hearing from them.

FORMATTING THE QUERY LETTER
*Use 12 point, Times New Roman or Arial (no fancy script).
*Use traditional business letterhead with your name, date, e-mail, and phone number.
*Use 1 to 1 1.5 inch margins all around.
*Date each query letter
*Address your letter to the proper editor and spell their name correctly (double-check–it is Mr. Smith or Ms. Smith?)-
*Use block paragraph format (single space paragraphs with an extra space between paragraphs—no indents).
*Always include a SASE (Self Addressed Stamped Envelope) for reply unless told not to by the publisher.

IMPORTANT DON’TS:
NEVER MENTION PREVIOUS REJECTIONS OF YOUR PIECE BEFORE.
Do not request advice or comments.
Do not talk about how thrilling it would be to be published.
Do not discuss payment
Do not discuss copyright. (Editors know that you own your work the minute you type it.)

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