Monday, June 23, 2008

Queries: Marketing to the agent/editor

Hello everyone,

So how productive were you this past week???

I have to say my week started great. I got up 90 minutes early, I got right to work after my morning cup of coffee and reading. I was well in to my writing before the first child popped out of bed...then one of my little ones got a stomach bug and the rest of the week didn't go so well.

This week I wanted to take a step back and start to look at the basics of marketing-that is to say how to market to an editor/agent. So this week we're going to look at queries, proposals and editor/agent meetings at conference. These are all necessary tools in the writer's toolbox and I hope they will help you as you continue to pursue your dream of publication.

Okay, today we will talk about Queries.

A query letter [or email] is simply a one page letter to get the attention of an editor or agent. This is their first impression of you [possibly their ONLY impression] so make sure you take time to write it well.

Queries are used by both periodical editors and book publishers so taking the time to really get this skill sharpened will be time well spent. The upshot is that once you have your first strong query letter written you can use it as a template for future letters.

You can buy entire books on how to write an effective query letter but I'm going to give you a rough outline here. Then you can customize yours based on what you learn from your own research or the needs of the publishing house.

Introduce what you're going to talk about. This is the first thing you want to do in your query. One trap writers fall in to is making this sound like a business letter. You want your first paragraph to reflect the tone of the magazine/publishing house you're hoping to work with so be interesting.

Next, give a bit more information on the article and then transition in to your bio. You want to keep these paragraphs short and clean so be ready to break the actual article pitch in to two paragraphs if you need to. Make sure you tell them why you're pitching this story to them [is it the theme for that months magazine? Did you just learn they're releasing a new line of sci-fi romances?]

Finally, what qualifies you to write this article or book. This is where you'd want to list relevant publishing experience. If you don't have any then list your educational background. If you have neither of these then tell why you're qualified to speak on this [if it's an article on homeschooling then mention that you homeschool 4 kids, even if you aren't a published author it shows knowledge on the topic.]

And make sure and thank them for their time. [And if it is a query you're mailing in send an SASE-Self-addressed Stamped Envelope]

If you have any questions leave them in the comment box or contact me through my website.

Your Coach for the Journey, Tiffany Colter

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