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This sample query letter for authors inserts key marketing points to market a manuscript to a publisher.

SAMPLE QUERY LETTER

This page will help the book author to submit a professional query letter and manuscript mailing.  This sample query letter must not be used for screenplay or theatrical play submissions to agents, producers or film production companies.

ADVICE FOR SUBMITTING QUERY LETTER TO PUBLISHER

   This sample query letter below is given to help you submit your query in a highly professional manner.  But first, here's examples of poor query letters.  Amazingly, we receive untold numbers like this!  Unfortunately, they all resulted in rejections for not being professional.  If the query is not up to publishing industry standards, the manuscript certainly will not be.

  Keep in mind that screen and play writing query and cover letters use a different format than shown below.  You can only use this query letter sample for submitting manuscripts for traditional print, electronic book or audiotape books to the book industry.

IMPROPER E-MAIL QUERY LETTERS

These are E-mail samples we have received.

  1. EXAMPLE #1  "I have a book on auto repair and I want a publisher.  Interested?" [The sender also had an invalid e-mail address in the mailing header, so no response was given].

  2. EXAMPLE #2  "We are ready to commit to an agency to sell our book.  It's a book about the Internet.  Can we send it to you?  [The sender is looking for an agent and sends this e-mail to a publisher?  Agents would ignore such a letter.  There's no information about the book].

  3. EXAMPLE #3  "If you want to make a lot of money, read this!  I have the best manuscript in the world on psychology.  A hypnosis section is included, too!  I'll send you the book.  All you have to do is reply.  Thank you!"  [This writer will need all the luck in the universe to have this query letter taken seriously!].

  4. EXAMPLE #4  "I saw your listing in the Writer's Digest 2000 book and I am mailing you to see if your are interested in publishing a book I wrote containing poems.  Can you help me?"  [This writer sent us this mail and described nothing of him/her self or the actual contents of the subject matter.  When we responded with a standard rejection, with a little helpful advice, we then received a scathing scolding for not accepting the book and were told our advice was hogwash, that the writer would make it big without us.  Never respond with unprofessionalism as it will give you a bad reputation in this business  Also, we do not publish poems, as we are not listed as a publisher of poems in Writer's Digest or other listings.  Why the writer contacted us is beyond reason].

  5. EXAMPLE #5  "I propose to your publishing company my book describing how to buy a new home.   May I send the manuscript?  [We receive many letters with the word "proposed" in the query.  This is improper terminology and indicates an amatuer is submitting.  A proposal is an offer to produce a book for a work for hire basis.   This author already has the manuscript written, so it is not a proposal at all.  Use the word "offer" instead of "propose." 

Remember:  Your query letter is the most important function in the marketing process.

RULE #1

  1.   You may mail query letters to most all publishers, but here's the rule:   Your query letter must be professional in all aspects, and this includes e-mail queries.  For some reason, writers believe the e-mail query may include less information.  This is not true.  Your e-mail query letter must mimic your postal mail query letter!  And, you must include a #10 standard business size S.A.S.E. with any postal-mailed query letter!
  2.   Below is an example of a query letter that contains important elements to help a publisher or agent decide to request your manuscript for further evaluation.   Incorporate these elements in your query letter and you will see an increase in manuscript requests!  The query is only a brief example of the elements.  There is more to it, but for starters it will get you on the right path.

The query letter below is in black text.  Red text are comments to ponder.

SAMPLE QUERY LETTER - FOR BOOK SUBMISSION
Date:  January 1, 2030  [You must insert a date for the Agent/Publisher files].

  Subject:  Manuscript Submission Request [We have to know what this letter is so it can be forwarded to the proper person.]

  Status:  Simultaneous submission (or proprietary submission).  A completed project (or manuscript near completion) [Tell the agent/publisher you are or are not submitting this query letter to other agents and publishers.  Be aware most book agents/publishers frown on simultaneous submissions!  Tell them if this is a finished project or not.  It is best to only query when the project is finished.]

Represented by: Author (or ABC Literary Agency (000-000-0000) ).   [Inform agent/publisher if you have an agent here or not.   Include agent's phone number or E-mail address.]

   Dear Agent (or Publisher) [A name would be better, but this will work]

  I am requesting permission to submit my manuscript for your evaluation.   The working title, "Bald Monkeys of the Amazon Jungle" is a 180 page single-space (or double-space) typed comedy/humor manuscript with 24 illustration (or, photos), of a woman who tries to save these city-invading monkeys despite all odds of success.  Federal and local authorities resist all efforts to preserve these lovable creatures and our hero must persevere retaliation from high places. [This query tells it all in just one short paragraph.  Do not send long descriptions in a query letter.  Agents and publishers have no time to read long drawn-out descriptions.  The title of the book should be in Italics, as shown.  The title of this book is not compelling or marketable and must be revised.  Make certain you mention the title of your book.  We receive many queries with the author omitting the title!  Also, notice the page count.  We need to know how large or small this manuscript is.]  This manuscript has been professionally edited and is ready to be published.  [This opens the doors and gets books published!]

  The market for this book will be animal lovers, conservationist, and readers of the thriller genre. [Tell us who would most likely buy this book, but not much detail here.  Just a few ideas.]   This book is better than others on the market, as it is a true story [or based on a true story]  [or, it is a powerful story of the human will to persevere against overwhelming odds].  The book is educational in many aspects, so the reader is not only drawn into the story, but learns how corrupt governments function and how the monkeys struggle to survive in a shrinking habitat.  There is a happy ending.  [Agent or publisher now has basic marketing information to make a decision.  The only problem here is the writer mentions there is a happy ending.   This is not professional.  Never keep an editor hanging.  You must describe how the story ends in brief detail.   "The monkeys are set free to live in peace for ever."]

   [Informing the editor the manuscript has been professionally edited will increase your probability of being published 1,000% or more!]  An S.A.S.E. is enclosed. [Let the reader know you have enclosed the S.A.S.E.'s.  You should include two S.A.S.E.'s:  A #10 S.A.S.E. letter envelope and a large S.A.S.E. to return the manuscript, or at least the #10 if you do not want your manuscript returned.   Then write it out this way...]  Letter S.A.S.E. enclosed.  No need to return manuscript.

  I look forward to hearing from you. [No begging, pleading or cutting deals. Just a simple invitation.]

  Sincerely,

  John Doe [Your real name is required, not an E-mail user name]

  000 East Street [list your entire mailing address.  Some firms will not respond via E-mail, but will do so using postal mail.  If you fail to give your full address, you may receive no response, or an instant rejection.  It is unprofessional to not list your entire address.  If you don't like doing this over the internet, then stop sending E-mails and use the postal service.  Never send  unprofessional communications to any agent or publisher.]

  New York, NY 00000 [City, State, Zip required.  Some publishers will not respond to you by E-mail.  They will read your E-mail and then contact you by postal mail.]

  Phone: 000-000-0000  [Include your telephone number.   Fax is optional.]

  E-mail:  jrpub2002@yahoo.com [Write out your E-mail address here!  Do not rely on the headers in the e-mail, as they often do not work!  We receive hundreds of queries with defective E-mail address and we can't respond to the writer.  Some E-mail book subjects were so good we wanted to publish, but the writer failed to include the E-mail address or a postal mailing address.  We feel sorry for writers who make mistakes like this. Don't be one of them!  Insure the E-mail address is hot, not just typed, so the reader can simply click on the address to respond.  Test your E-mail link by mailing a copy to yourself.  We receive many E-mails that are "undeliverable" and the writer receives no response.]

Spelling errors: Do the best you can to cut the errors down to zero.   One error will find its way in no matter how hard you try to make your query letter perfect.  Every book has typos and grammar rule violations that the editor or typesetter did not catch.  It just happens.

  1.   The query letter above may appear elementary, but it contains critical elements revealing professionalism and information vital to the agent/publisher to make a decision to request your manuscript.  If these elements are not presented in your query letter?   It will likely be tossed in the rejection heap!  You can't go wrong following the above query letter example above.  You will certainly see a much improved response rate to your submission, and you may even get your book published. 

  2. The above query letter example is for a postal mail query.  To see an example of an e-query letter go to question #69 on our Advice for Authors page.

SCREENWRITERS

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   The screenplay query is much different than the book query letter, so don't attempt to incorporate the book manuscript query letter example given above.  If you do?  It will certainly result in failure!  To see a major increase in requests for your screenplay or theatrical play, read our book Screen & Stage Marketing Secrets

RULE #2

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  Check your spelling in all your query Letters!  The best way to do this is to print out the query letter and read it.  Do not read it on the computer screen, as your eyes will "miss" many errors!  Proof reading must always be performed on a hard copy! 

RULE #3

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  Many writers are desperate to be published and have faced hundreds of rejections over the years.  Don't lose your cool or your reason.   Keep your query letters and other communications absolutely to business standards and professional. Do not allow desperation to show in your letters!  Do not plead for help, request favors, make promises, or offer cut-rate royalty deals.  These letters always result in rejections.  Agents and publishers will not deal with writers revealing unprofessionalism.  In fact, errors in submissions are used as filtering devices to sort the unprofessional writers from the professional.  Professional submissions are welcomed and these writers are invited to submit manuscripts.   Unprofessional writers are instantly rejected.  This is why your query letter must be top-notch!  

RULE #4

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  The query letter is the most important letter you can write, even more important than the book!  Why?  Because the query initiates the publishing of your book!  If you are not obtaining the results you desire, pay to have a firm write a professional query letter for you!  It makes no sense to have a great book and fail miserably in the marketing process, which most writer's do, unnecessarily!     

  MORE TIPS FOR AUTHORS - SUBMISSION PACKAGE

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 You send the agent or publisher your query and they request the manuscript.  What do you include? 

1.  A manuscript cover letter.  Do not send fancy stationary!   Keep it simple.  Too much color reveals amateur status.  The cover letter can be a short synopsis.  It is here you inform the agent or publisher if you wish the manuscript to be returned or not.  Simply state, "S.A.S.E. enclosed for return of manuscript."  or "S.A.S.E. not enclosed.  No need to return."

2.  Enclose another S.A.S.E. for a written response.  This is a #10 business envelope.

3.  Attach #1 and #2 above to the manuscript with a paper clip.   Do not staple it!

4The less you say in your cover letter the better off you will be!  Don't ramble on with anything is our best advice.  Don't try to cut deals, etc.  Some writers create great queries, then they ruin it big time in the manuscript cover letter.  A good process to use is the dual process.  A cover letter is drafted stating the return procedure, as in step #1 above and just listing you and your agent's  contact information; name, address, phone, fax, e-mail.   Then include a single-page synopsis.  Let your manuscript do the selling for you!   Make certain your e-mail address is correct and easy to read or you will receive no response!  If your e-mail address contains "I" or "1" make certain the reader can easily make the distinction (e-mail word processors create look-alike and confusing font identities).  

5.  The synopsis simply breaks the story of your book down to three major story elements.  Beginning, middle and end.  Best bet?  One short paragraph for each.  Some book publishers want multi-page synopses, but you can find great success with one-page.  You can use one paragraph for your biography.  If so, do not ramble on your qualifications, just list them.  Now you have a 4-paragraph synopsis on 1-page.  It will be read!

6.  Some agent/publishers require sample chapters.  The publisher should have sent you their guidelines on submission procedures.  If no guidelines were sent?  Don't include sample chapters.  You may want to mention it in your query cover letter, "Sample chapters available on request," but this inclusion can be considered silly by many editors, as it is obvious sample chapters would be available on request.  Use this statement only when you are submitting an "unfinished manuscript."

7.  Wrap all in a sheet of 1/16" thick bubble-wrap for protection during shipping.  Place in a bubble-padded shipping envelope or manuscript mailing box. Don't forget the two S.A.S.E.'s.  On the outside of the package write these words, "Requested Manuscript Enclosed."  If you do not do this, you risk having your manuscript returned to you unopened!  The mailroom personnel will think it is an unsolicited submission! 

8.  Sit back and wait.  Be professional.  Do not call the agent or publisher.  You may write them in 60-days asking for the status.  It's a slow and painful process for writers, but that's the business.

9.  If you receive a rejection?  Do not write angry retributions to the agent or publisher.  Just forget it and mail your manuscript to the next one on your list.  Never let your desperation reveal itself, as it is a certain method for ultimate failure.  Everybody knows everybody in this business and a bad apple gets passed around.  Best bet?  Send a thank you letter!   As much as you may be angry, do it.  It's how you learn to become professional and your letter will be filed.  Some editors have actually changed their mind and published the work after reading the "thank you" letter!  Strange things happen.  Leave a good impression, that's what really counts.

10.  Do not quit your day job to write full-time!  Do this only when you have many selling projects in the works.  Consider freelance writing; columns for newspaper, magazines, corporate newsletters.  Write your book and write the next one.  Selling only one book is often not enough royalty income to live on (unless national best-seller status arises, but sales do fall after 8 to 12 weeks).  This is why many great authors have multiple books!

11.  If you hit it big and roll in the money?  Hire a financial planner to invest and preserve your income to last you many years.  There are horror stories of writers making tons of money, then they are stone broke in a few years.  Advice?  Do not buy the expensive home and car until your financial planner structures these purchases so your investments will pay for them!  Your first or second book may sell big, but your third and fourth may flop and you'll be back where you started.  Hopefully, not filing bankruptcy!  Invest your money wisely so it will work for you. 

12.  There are protocols in the publishing business, just as there are in the screenwriting business, and you must follow the rules.  If you believe you can break the rules you are gravely mistaken.  Publishers and literary agents are on the lookout for you.  They examine your submission package and if it "looks professional" it will be moved on up for an evaluation reading.  If not, it will be shoved aside for months or rejected.  Same with your query letter.   If you are not sending "professionally presented" queries you are wasting your time.  Learn to do things right the first time.  Learn to be professional by presenting professional queries and manuscript mailing packages.  If you forget the S.A.S.E.'s?  You are inviting rejection!  You can not break the rules and expect to see your book published.

13.  There are "firewalls" installed to filter out amateur submissions!  Here's one you never knew about -- Did you know your query letter will be "set aside" for weeks if you fail to use a "business-type" postage stamp?  If you use postage stamps with flowers, Elvis, or other comical characters the publisher and agent knows right away, "This is an amateur submission, put it into the someday file!" Use postage stamps businesses use; the simple American flag stamp!  When your query arrives, the mail sorter sees the "business stamp" and places the mail into the "in-box."  Letters with fancy colorful stationary envelopes with postage stamps of flowers, etc., are tossed into another file -- the file you don't want to be in!

14.  Don't spend a lot of money on flashy stationary as it is certainly a sign of an amateur submission!  Professionals use very simple stationary, and some don't use any at all!  Just plain white or creme-colored linen paper.   Why?  They don't want anything to distract the reader from the words printed on the paper!  You can use colorful stationary, but is must be very "low-key" with few colors schemes.  Beautiful rainbows, blue sky and clouds, waterfalls, fireworks, large boxed borders, etc., are not to be used. 

15.  There are books at the bookstores on how to write and submit query letters.  Read them!  The query letter is the most important letter in the entire marketing phase.  It is the letter that gets your foot (manuscript) in the door.  If you insist on sending unprofessional query letters, and prefer to do it "your way"  you will fail, and keep failing.  Rejections will never cease.  That is the nature of the beast.  There are writers with excellent manuscripts publishers would love to publish, but the writer remains stubborn and refuses to follow industry protocol rules and standards.  Publishers and agents will not deal with unprofessionals.  Remember; amateur submissions = rejection!    

16.  Most all writers fail repeatedly by not learning how to market their manuscripts.  There are books at bookstores on how to present and sell your manuscript. Read them!  A large publisher may receive 100,000 submission-request-queries in just 12-months.  Do you really believe you can break the rules and compete with 60,000 other writers who are following the rules?  It is very difficult to get a book published.  Out of the 100,000 only 34 books will be accepted and published!   Those firewalls exist for a good reason, to keep the amateurs from flooding the "in-box" so the publisher can get to work evaluating the professional submissions.

17.  The key to success in getting your book into the hands of the editor who has the power to say "yes" is to be professional.  There is only one way for an unprofessional to become a professional and that is to submit your query and mailing package professionally, with all elements included in each submission.  Publishers and agents do not deem a professional simply because they are a pro writer, it is the query letter and the submission package presentation that counts.   Once they request your manuscript, that's when your writing skills will be evaluated and decisions made to publish.  You can't get your manuscript high into the chain of command for a decision if you fail to comply with professional protocol standards.

18.  Go to your bookstore and purchase a copy of the Writer's Digest book Writer's Market.  We have the book on our Books for Writers page  The book lists all publishers and agents.  Advice is given on how to submit your manuscript or query.  Find the publishers that specialize in the genre (subject matter) your book matches.  If you have cookbooks, don't send a query to a publisher/agent that specializes in business books!  So many writers are doing this, it boggles the imagination as to why they think the publisher/agent will take on their book.  It won't happen and the writer is simply wasting time and money.  Buy a copy of the Writer's Digest magazine.   Subscribe to it!  It is full of powerful advice for writers.  They have a book club and you should join the club and read the books written to assist authors.        

19.  Use each paragraph on this page as a "checklist" prior to mailing your query or manuscript.  Make sure all elements and items are included.   You will see a vast difference in how publishers and agents will treat your submissions.  You may be surprised to discover your book will be published!

20.  If you simply slow down, stop, take a deep breath and examine your query letter, you will find greater success.  Re-write it so all the elements are contained.  Keep it brief and to the point.  In query letter standards, less is more!  The less you say, the less errors you will make that may create a rejection!  

21.  Visit our Links Page for writers.   You will find more guidance and advice with the Web sites listed. 

IMPORTANT

22.  Never send a manuscript in a padded envelope!   These brown kraft paper envelopes are filled with millions of shredded fibers.   When publishers and agents see them they hit the roof!  They know the manuscript will be filled with these fluffy dust particles and will mess up their clothes, desktops, floors, hands and the manuscript itself.  Use bubble envelopes!  Some editors become so upset when they see a padded envelope they simply reject the manuscript without even reading it!

      NEW MARKET FOR YOUR BOOKS!

SCREEN WRITING BOOK WILL HELP YOU...

  1.   You may find our screen writing book of value.  How?  The book is dedicated to marketing movie scripts to Hollywood, but also reveals many tips and tricks of the trade in writing effective query letters... and how to market and submit your project, professionally!  

  2.   If you write books, you should consider writing a stage play or screenplay, too!  Contrary to what you may have read, books do not always make it to press first, then a movie is made.  Today, it works the other way around!  A script will sell to the studios, then the book will be put into print for simultaneous release!   This happens all of the time.  You will read about it in the Hollywood Reporter and other trade magazines. 

  3.   This means, as a book author, you now have another career to pursue -- screenwriting!  You now effectively double your chances of getting your book or script sold.  Plus, you can earn much more money with your screenplay than with any book!  How much?  $5,000 to $50,000 for the option (like an advance payment) and over $100,000 for the sale, even in the millions!   The writer who has a book, and the screenplay already written, gains a high-advantage of getting sold.  Movie studios will make the movie, make the deal with a book publisher and make a fortune for everyone involved.  

  4.   Even a technical or cookbook can be turned into a VHS instructional tape to be aired on television and sold in stores.  Your book can be your launching pad to an entirely new means of success, if you write the script!  You now have another market for your book!  You have a book and now the film script!  This will increase your chances of selling one or the other, or both!  Usually when one sells, the other sells.

  5.   And, there is a third market.   Your book may even be written in stage play format and obtain recognition in theatrical arenas and that can result in a book, play and a screenwriting deal!  When success comes, it often comes big, arriving all at once!  Click here for the Screen & Stage Marketing Secrets book.

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