Skip to main content

Successful Query Letters

While there is no formula for the perfect query letter, all successful queries share certain qualities. Take a look at these tips from the Writing the Nonfiction Book Proposal Workshop from WritersOnlineWorkshops.com
  • Author:
  • Publish date:

Generally speaking, a query letter should:

  • Be brief(preferably one or two single-spaced pages) and addressed to a specific editor by name. Avoid rambling "conversation" ("The weather here is horrible&#151I hope it''s better for you") and sales hype ("This book is a guaranteed bestseller!").
  • Grab the editor''s interest with a strong opening.Use your subject hook.
  • Be "scannable."Let the editor tell at a glance what you''re proposing.
  • Don''t make the editor hunt for your "contact" information. Get your name, address, phone number and email address at the top of your letter. Use bullets to highlight essential information: your qualifications, marketing information, etc.
  • Be self-standing. Query only one project at a time. Giving the editor a smorgasbord of ideas to choose from usually only leads to none being chosen.
  • Give the editor some idea of the book''s structure and contents, and of your own writing style.It goes without saying that your query should exhibit your very best writing style and be error-free, demonstrating to the editor your ability to effectively execute the idea you''re proposing.
  • Be professional.Use dignified letterhead on white, off-white, beige or grayish paper. Avoid other colors&#151the only attention that a red query or cover letter gets is negative.
  • Include a self-addressed, stamped envelope(SASE) for ease of response.
  • Mention any expertise or special qualifications you have to write the book (if you''ve been published, mention it; if not, don''t). Here you will tap into the material you developed for the "About the Author" section of you proposal, in shorter form, of course.

Learn more about the Writing the Nonfiction Book Proposal Workshop.

Elizabeth Shick: On Research Through Immersion

Elizabeth Shick: On Research Through Immersion

Award-winning novelist Elizabeth Shick discusses the complete rewrite she devoted to her debut novel, The Golden Land.

6 Habits Writers Can Learn From Athletes

6 Habits Writers Can Learn From Athletes

Author and athlete Henriette Lazaridis shares six tips and habits that writers can learn from athletes.

writer's digest wd presents

WD Presents: Last Chance to Nominate Your Favorite Writing Websites, Our Historical Fiction Virtual Conference, and More!

This week, we're excited to announce the deadline to nominate your favorite writing websites, our Historical Fiction Virtual Conference, and more!

4 Tips for Writing a Modern Retelling

4 Tips for Writing a Modern Retelling

From having reverence for the original to making it your own, author Nikki Payne shares four tips for writing a modern retelling.

Faint vs. Feint (Grammar Rules)

Faint vs. Feint (Grammar Rules)

Learn when to use faint vs. feint in your writing with Grammar Rules from the Writer's Digest editors, including a few examples. Plus, we answer whether it's "faint of heart" or "feint of heart."

6 Books to Cozy Up With This Winter | Book Recommendations

6 Books to Cozy Up With This Winter

Here are 6 book recommendation perfect for winter reading.

12 Things to Consider When Writing Fight Scenes in Fiction (FightWrite™)

12 Things to Consider When Writing Fight Scenes in Fiction (FightWrite™)

Trained fighter and author Carla Hoch shares 12 things all writers should consider when attempting to write effective fight scenes in fiction.

Plot Twist Story Prompts: Unreal Character

Plot Twist Story Prompts: Unreal Character

Every good story needs a nice (or not so nice) turn or two to keep it interesting. This week, have a character turn out to be less than they seem.

November PAD Chapbook Challenge

2022 November PAD Chapbook Challenge: Next Steps

Here are the final steps for the 15th annual November PAD Chapbook Challenge! Use December and the beginning of January to revise and collect your poems into a chapbook manuscript. Here are some tips and guidelines.