Dos and Don’ts of Querying

I love writing and sharing my work, but I personally dread queries. It’s a one shot summary of how awesome your work is and if you blow it, you get rejected.

Getting to the point where you have enough confidence to submit a novel or novella to a publisher (no matter how big or small) is difficult enough. Then comes the individual requirements requested form each publisher, and the harrowing experience of trying to talk up your work and your writing credits without sounding like a complete self absorbed ass hole.

This balance often drives me mad. I have spent hours on one query before, working to find the best wording, stressing to make sure I followed every guideline to the T. Whew.

What I have learned is most important of all, KNOW WHO YOU’RE SUBMITTING TO!

Do your research. If you’re trying to sell a thriller, the worst thing you can do is send it to a spec fic publisher. That should be a no-brainer. But also narrow down your field of vision. Read at least one of the books produced by a potential publisher. If you don’t like it, that’s a sign that maybe they’re not for you.

Once you do have a few publishers that you like and wish to work with, follow them on social media. Don’t be afraid to comment and join open discussions. But don’t be the annoying person who messages them all the time. Building a relationship can be very helpful when the time comes to submit your work. But don’t expect that you’ll get accepted automatically just because the editor shares a laugh with you.

No one is entitled to anything in the publishing industry, at least not at first.

When you’re ready, make sure that you have everything they are asking for. Some publishers request a 2-3 page synopsis, whereas others just want a couple of sentences.

Is your word count within the specified perimeters? If your novel is 50,000 words and that is the least amount the take, you may want to add in some more. Don’t be the writer who hovers around the boundaries, try to find the sweet spots in between.

Once everything is in order, you sit down to type out your email and here’s the fun part. Your heart races, your fingers shake. How the hell do you start?

Well, if you’ve gotten acquainted with the publisher you may want to offer a friendly greeting that reminds them who you are. But be careful, keep it professional. In my experiences, the simpler the more successful.

I’m certainly no expert, but I have done this enough to analyze what went wrong in some cases and what really set me apart in others.

Most publishers give you hints. Some get right to the point and list out every requirement. This is great. don’t play around with them just greet them, offer up “I’d like to submit my story title here. It is a specific genre aimed at a specific audience and is approximately so many words.”

If they state that they want something different that catches their eye without the usual statements just listed, then get creative.

There is a world of writers out there trying to get published, so rejections will come. Acceptances are sweet little gifts that may be offered every so often.

Hopefully this will help anyone who’s struggling or just getting into the game. The writing community has always aided me and I’m glad to be a part of it. If anyone needs help, I’m eager to do what I can. I’m still learning myself.

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