Writing a query letter for nonfiction

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Writing a query letter for nonfiction

Purple Crayon Bookstores Covers letters and query letters are a source of great anxiety for writers. Because the submission process seems so mysterious, cover letters are viewed as talismans or lucky charms, the magic object that will open the door leading to publication, fame and fortune.

A terrific cover letter never sold a bad manuscript, and many lovely books have sold in spite of their cover letters. Query letters are trickier, because they are the proverbial foot in the door.

writing a query letter for nonfiction

So what is a good cover letter? First it is a courtesy. As an editor, I did find submissions that lacked a cover letter a bit rude, like a phone caller who doesn't bother saying hello or identifying themselves before launching into the conversation. Like any business letter, it should include your name and address.

The text should have the title of your manuscript and what type of book -- picture book, easy-to-read, nonfiction, etc. It should be simple and direct and signed.

A good query letter is a different beast. Simplicity is still a prime virtue, but a query letter is a come-on; it should entice the editor to read more. It should give a taste of your book, a description of what it is, what is special about it, and it should be less than one page long.

I hear skeptical questions from the back of the room: Following one of the basic rules of good writing to show, not tell, I have written a selection of cover letters and a query to identify common approaches and problems.

Sample Cover Letters For some of the samples, I made up book titles for imaginary manuscripts. Spinelli did not write these letters, I am merely using his book as an example. The book is readily available, so you can check and see if my descriptions are good. The first letter, the bad example with an imaginary manuscript, has footnotes to the common mistakes, which you may jump to if you wish.

With the encouragement of my dear family, I finally wrote them down and collected them into a book. I did work on the high school newspaper, but I don't suppose that counts. As soon as I have some, I will send them along.

I also took it to my ten-year-old son's class at school and the children there were equally enthusiastic. This book has definite kid appeal! K ids today face a tough world, and this book will teach them about courage and good manners in a fun way. I have enclosed the address of the National Headquarters of the Ant Farmers' Association of America, since I am sure they will be interested in a book that features so many ants.

His portrait of Anthony is enclosed. Since he is family, he will give you a good price. The Greeting of a Cover Letter Even when you have composed the perfect cover letter to send with your manuscript, and you have done your homework and chosen the perfect publisher to submit it to, one tiny problem remains.

What do you put in the greeting of your letter? You know, the part that comes after the date and address, and begins with "Dear. It's not always possible to find out the name of the person reading submissions at a particular house.

How do you address an unknown person who is going to be doing something as personal as reading your work? There are so many choices: Dear Sir or Madam -- While admirably including both genders, this one sounds like Jeeves addressing a drag queen who hadn't quite finished hormone therapy. Dear Terrible and Beneficent Goddess of Publishing -- This may accurately reflect a writer's feelings about the balance of power during the submission process, but might be perceived as groveling.

Dear Money-Grubbing Philistine -- This may also accurately reflect a writer's emotional state after a morning of many rejection letters, but could come across as a little hostile.

And the winner is:Agent Janet Reid of FinePrint Literary Management gave an intensive workshop on queries at the South Carolina Writers Workshop. Here are 20 tips to writing an effective query, according to the Query .

The query letter has one purpose, and one purpose only: to seduce the agent or editor into reading or requesting your work. The query letter is so much of a sales piece that you should be able to write it without having written a single word of the manuscript.

A literary agent (sometimes publishing agent, or writer's representative) is an agent who represents writers and their written works to publishers, theatrical producers, film producers, and film studios, and assists in the sale and deal negotiation of the leslutinsduphoenix.comry agents most often represent novelists, screenwriters, and non-fiction leslutinsduphoenix.com are paid a fixed percentage (usually twenty.

Debut author Jennieke Cohen shares the query letter that landed her an agent.

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Jennifer Unter shares her commentary on the query letter. What questions do you have about writing a query letter? If you’re like most of the authors I speak with each week as an author coach, you probably have lots of leslutinsduphoenix.com #1 question I’m always asked is, “How can I write an agent query that will result in lots of requests for my manuscript, followed by lots of offers for representation, followed by multiple offers from top publishers?

Thus, tackle writing your query letter in three steps. Step 1: Write a lead or hook. Much like the first paragraph in a magazine or newspaper article or even the first page in a book, you need to compose an introduction that grabs the reader–a literary agent or acquisitions editor at a publishing house.

How to Write a Query Letter: 10 Dos and Don'ts