Writing Queries

Yesterday Began the first day of submissions in what I am assuming will be many. That’s the hope any way and although it has been quite a while since I sent anything off, I now have a little accumulated pile of short stories novella’s and yes even novels.

I think all writers have been in this position before. Maybe its insecurity holding us back, in my case I know that is a big part of it. I know this is what I wanted to write. I know I had fun writing it. I know my sweat and blood went into it and in my oppinion it was totally worth it, but after all that, will anybody else want to read it?

I’m not so sure. Maybe by being so particular with what I write-lets be honest, I have an affinity for drama, very silly characters, angst and happy endings-I’ve cut out a major group of people that would otherwise read this. Hey it’s possible but why bother trying to make everybody happy if you end up with a story that makes ‘you’ less happy?

Yesterday I sent KISSING SANTA in to Torquere press. It is a short story that I have a definite soft spot for. The main characters are a gay couple already in an established relationship. Quite honestly they have the type of relationship that most people probably long for; supportive, secure and playful. The story somehow even has that bit of spice to it. You can probably tell that I am proud of that one. I wouldn’t change it and managed to submit it on the last day of their deadline for their christmas anthology but they do not require a query letter and thankfully their submission process for short stories was a little bit simpler than some others.

Case in point being my next two planned submissions. FAR TOO FAMILIAR is a short romantic story about a witch. It is sweet, it is PG, and it is supposed to be the first in a series which will be followed by at least two novels. A lot rides on this submission. How do I make this story sound good enough that two novels could potentially follow in its footsteps? Is it good enough for that? The submission that I am planning to follow with (currently untitled) is a paranormal romance novella also with the possibility of follow up novella’s although those are not set in stone. I have a publisher lined up that I would like to try first, but even there there are difficulties, the main one of course being the query letter.

From my research I’ve put together a bit of a go to for query writing:

Step one: Find the right publisher. Sounds easy, I know but be specific, and I mean very specific. Do you have a gay paranormal romantic short story? Then find an open call for a gay paranormal romantic short story. Wrote a speculative novel about Peter Pan? You’d be surprised, there is a publisher out there looking for something just like that. Look at their other books, see what they publish. In the submission details all publishers will have a fairly detailed list of the kind of things they are currently looking for. Take everything into consideration and don’t waste your time submitting to a publisher who might not want your story.

Step two: Know the name of the editor you’re submitting to and address the letter to him/her. Again, the publishers website will be your best friend for this part. Under each open call they will have the name of the specific editor listed. If you are not submitting to an open call be warned that specific imprints or genres may have different editors. Find the one that is looking for your type of story.

Step three: The majority of your query letter should be about the book you are pitching. Remember you are trying to sell your book. This can be the fun part or the hard part. How do you summarize your entire story in a few short paragraphs? Try first to identify a theme. Cut to the chase by starting with that. Follow with the word count and merge into the sales pitch. This should basically be what you would read on the back of the book. Use your imagination and have fun! (Easier said than done, i know…)

Step Four: Indicate your credentials! This is important only if you have very good, applicable credits. Have a couple books published? let them know what and which publishers they were published by. Also remember if you have real life credentials that counts too. Wrote a book taking place in ancient Greece and have a degree in classical studies? Let them know! Remember that applies especially to non-fiction. If you don’t have anything to put down don’t worry about it. You can still have a strong query.

Step Five: Proof read. Make sure that its short. One page if you can manage it. Make sure that it is clean and neatly laid out. Double check to see if your summary is written in the same voice as the novel. Be sure that it is in present tense!

Its funny, but after all of that story writing, the query letter can be the hard part. You are no longer writing for yourself, you are officially writing for someone else, trying to identify all the little ways that a mass audience might like your story. Its definitely not easy but you owe it to yourself and to your own creativity to give it your all and go as far as you can.

Good Luck!

…now on to the summary…

note: any extra tips for me? Please give me any that you can! Any feedback for my list is truly welcome!

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