10 Tips to Writing a Query Letter

Tips on writing your storyI have a client who is heading down the traditional publishing road. Since one of the most important elements of this process is the query letter, I have some tips on what to do and what to include.

1. Before you even think of writing your query letter, make sure you have a good story. Make sure you have all the needed elements.

2. Next, if you haven’t already, determine your target audience. Be specific when including it in the query. If you’re a children’s writer, this information will include the intended age group of the reader.

Along with this, you’ll want to establish that there is a need or desire for this particular topic.

3. Tell the agent or publisher the ONE thing that your book will bring to readers or help readers accomplish. This is the number one purpose of the query letter. What does your book have that readers will want?

Will it make them laugh? Will it help them better understand their own relationships? Will it give them an escape from reality? Will it make them cry? Will it subtly teach them something?

Even if your book has multiple benefits or purposes, find that one that reigns them all. That’s the one you want to focus on.

4. In marketing there is something known as the UPS (Unique Selling Point). Include in the query what makes your book unique. There may be thousands of books on raising a child, so what makes yours publishing-worthy? Why would the publisher or agent want to take a risk on your book?

Briefly explain why the reader will want to choose your book over another on a similar topic?

This information will go in the Bio paragraph.

5. If you have expert status in the area you’re writing, let the publishers know. I work with child psychologists and therapists and they have a unique position as an author for books in that area. They have expertise in their field and can provide helpful information whether through fiction or nonfiction books.

Publishers and agents will want to know if your occupation, hobby, or other is relevant to the book. It could possible help tip the contract scale in the author’s favor.

This information will go in the Bio paragraph.

6. If you’re on social media and have a substantial following, you’ll want to mention it. Publishers like the idea of an author having 50,000 or 100,000 followers. It offers built-in audience.

You would also want to mention any other effective marketing strategies you’re sure will help sell your books.

Publishers want authors who can help self their own books.

This too goes in the Bio paragraph.

7. This has been said over and over, but it’s worth mentioning again, read the publishers’ guidelines and follow them carefully.

Every agent and publisher is different. How they want the query letter will differ.

Some may want the basics of the book, title, genre, word count, target audience/word count. Other’s may want to know why you chose them.

Do your research.

You also want to make sure the publisher of agent accepts the type of manuscript you’ve written.

Note: Be sure to include the basics of the book somewhere in the query.

8. The latest format for the query is to have your contact information at the end, under your signature.

It’s a good idea to include the URL to your blog or website in your contact information. Publishers and agents like to know what the author has an online presence.

You will also want to include whether you’re submitting exclusively to that particular agent or publisher or whether you’re submitting to multiple agents or publishers (simultaneous submission).

Keep in mind that if you’re submitting exclusively, you can’t submit that manuscript to anyone else until you hear back from that submission.

9. Keep it tight. Your query should fit on one page, if at all possible.

Editors and agents are super busy. Make your query easy to read.

10. As with anything you write, proof your work.

Let's talk about your children's writing project

Whether you need rewriting or ghostwriting, let me take a look at your story. Just send me an email at: kcioffiventrice@gmail.com. Please put “Children’s Writing” in the Subject box.

Or, give me a call at 347—834—6700

Let’s get your idea off the launch pad or your outline into a publishable story today!

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