Following a recent rejection I received on behalf of the 2004 Anthology stories, it’s time to hit the query stage again. However, I want to revise the query letter I was using so I’ve been looking around for some hints on letter writing.
Most of the following is common sense, but I’m going to make a small list as a reminder to anyone who has to write a query letter:
1. Be professional. If you look like an amateur you’ll find your manuscript in the slush pile.
2. If you email a query, it doesn’t mean you can be any less professional. If you are then you are wasting your time because you will be rejected.
3. A query letter should be no longer than one page. Get to the point quickly and clearly. Never waffle on.
4. This is your only chance to make an impression, don’t blow it. Proofread your letter until you know it’s 100% correct.
5. Always ensure you include your address, phone number and email address because if you don’t, how are they going to contact you? Sounds stupid really, but from what I’ve read some people forget these essential things and then wonder why they never get a reply. You should include these things when doing email queries too because some publishers will not reply in the form of an email, they only send out letters.
6. Never beg or try to make deals in your letter, and never ask for comments. You’ll be rejected faster than you can ever imagine.
7. Never use coloured paper or fancy scripts. This is a sign of an amateur.
8. Always address the letter to the right person – use their name but make sure you spell it right. One thing that gets up people’s noses is seeing their name spelt wrong.
9. Know your market. Don’t send a fantasy story to a publisher who’s only interested in horror. You’re wasting everyone’s time and making yourself look foolish.
10. Make your letter stand out from the rest. Publishers and agents receive thousands of letters a year, so you have to show them that you’ve got spark…writing ability…professionalism.
Oh, did you catch on by now that you must be professional at all times? Those who are not, will remain in the slush pile.