Friday, January 4, 2013

Query Letters: An Essential Writing Skill For Now and the Future


As I was working with my husband on the promotion for his book What Foreigners Need to Know About America From A To Z (http://amzn.to/ForeignersAmericaUS) I realized how much I’d forgotten about my American history, but it also made me aware I should be reminding you all of the format to use for your query letters.
I noticed that many authors believe query letters are only necessary when they're trying to interest an agent or publisher, but learning to write and edit an effective one is a skill that you will continue to use all during the marketing campaign or your book--and the one after that.
Query letters are the introductory letters you use for every kind of request you make. When you request a review of your book. When you ask to partner with a retailer for and event, workshop, or book signing. When you pitch a feature story to an editor of your local newspaper. Or guest spot on a radio station. The list is endless.
Yep, it may be time to review the section on writing and editing query letters (page 27 in your paperback edition) in The Frugal Editor (http://budurl.com/TheFrugalEditor). It starts on page 27 of your paperback edition.
It includes query letter pet peeves direct from the mouths of famous agents and sample letters in the Appendix like avoiding making judgements of your own work. For agents "awesome" is a four-letter word!
If you have The Frugal Book Promoter (http://budurl.com/FrugalBkPromo), jump back to the Index and look up “query letters” to learn everything you’ll need to know about them.
Here's tip number one to get you started. A query letter asks something of the person it's addressed to. Don't avoid that question. Nike says "just do it." The query letter rule is "just ask." Your contact needs to know what you want from them. They may wear more than one hat, but in any case, you'll want to be clear just because that's what professionals aim for.
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Carolyn Howard-Johnson, author of This Is the Place; Harkening: A Collection of Stories Remembered; Tracings, a chapbook of poetry; and how to books for writers including the award-winning second edition of, The Frugal Book Promoter: How to get nearly free publicity on your own or by partnering with your publisher; The Frugal Editor: Put Your Best Book Forward to Avoid Humiliation and Ensure Success; and Great Little Last Minute Editing Tips for Writers . The Great First Impression Book Proposal is her newest booklet for writers. She has three FRUGAL books for retailers including A Retailer’s Guide to Frugal In-Store Promotions: How To Increase Profits and Spit in the Eyes of Economic Downturns with Thrifty Events and Sales Techniques. Some of her other blogs are TheNewBookReview.blogspot.com, a blog where authors can recycle their favorite reviews. She also blogs at all things editing, grammar, formatting and more at The Frugal, Smart and Tuned-In Editor .

6 comments:

  1. Carolyn, I have the second edition, and it has example query letters at the back. Very helpful.

    I save example query letters in the folder with my book, scetches, etc. Virtual folder - my master copies live in Google documents.

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  2. Carolyn, I have both books and will definitely be re-visting the query letter information. It is also the format you need to query for guest blogging.

    Peggy, I save my query letters also. I print a hard copy and have a binder for them.

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  3. I have the books too and they are so helpful to review. I am taking a magazine course to start the year and the query is the second lesson. Your advice and the info in the book will be most helpful. Here is to a productive and lucrative 2013 for all of us in the writing arena.

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  4. Learning to write a decent query letter is a key part of a writer's toolkit. You're so right, Carolyn, that making sure we ask the question, simply and upfront is important.

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  5. LOL. I'm so glad you all agree! A query letter is a talent (a tool!) that keeps on giving. It figures in so many aspects of publishing and only needs slight revisions to become a cover letter.

    Thanks to you all for dropping by!

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  6. Interesting article Carolyn as so many of the new fast-track authors think self-publishing is a way to avoid writing query letters. Yep, I'm another writer with both editions of the book. So helpful.

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