The Query Letter, or: There is a First Time for Everything

So, in my quest to become a “real” (vs. wannabe) writer, I’ve done the following:

  • quit my paying job so I have time to write
  • written almost 30,000 words of my novel’s first draft
  • joined Duotrope (to track my submissions)
  • read a ton of professional literature on how to make it as a freelancer
  • ghost-written a book
  • researched markets
  • joined a writing group
  • written and submitted 48 pieces (both essays and poetry) 126 times
  • received acceptance letters for eight different pieces — and counting!

What I hadn’t done, till earlier this week, was written a query letter.

Basically, there are a few ways writers can try to get published.

  1. To publish a book, as a first-time novelist, I really need to have a completed, wonderful, amazing novel.  All done.  So I have months to go before I am ready with that one.
  2. To publish essays and poems, writers send in the completed piece to publications — this is called a submission.  I’ve been doing that.
  3. To publish non-fiction articles of all genres, most publishers request queries.  These letters remind me a ton of the cover letters we all write at some point, to get scholarships, jobs, or college acceptance letters.  A good query letter grabs the attention of the editor with a great idea and even better writing, explains how the article will play out, and ends with why the editor should trust me with the assignment.

Well, today I stepped up my game and sent out my first query!  I am very excited and have my fingers crossed.  I spell-checked it, read it three times, and prayed before I hit send.

I’ll keep you posted on how this goes!  And, if you want to read more about how to submit your own writing, here are a few of the resources I used.  You’ll read about submissions, queries, and letters of introduction, a fourth way to get published that I’ll explore…later!

  • The Renegade Writer by Linda Formichelli has a great page called New To Freelancing? which has tons of helpful information — and if you sign up, she’ll send you weekly motivational emails with action items!
  • Though she no longer maintains it, the blog Dollars and Deadlines by Kelly James Enger is full of useful tips — including The Essential Query (with a template and sample query).
  • Finally, The Writer’s Market — which I checked out from the library — includes chapters on querying, creating websites, and more, as well as listings for markets.

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