Seal of Approval
The following books have been awarded the Seal of Approval for the 4th quarter of 2022:
- Bella’s Beautiful Miracle, Kimberly Novak
- I Will Always Be Me, Kristina Schoettle
- The Wistful and the Good, Mark Baker
- Please Don’t Feed the Dinosaurs, Corinna Turner
From Our Blog
Your Author Toolkit: Dos and Don’ts for a Strong Query LetterYour Author Toolkit: Dos and Don’ts for a Strong Query Letter
As an acquisitions editor, I see dozens of query letters or emails every month for every topic under the sun. That first glimpse of the email or Submittable entry is often more than enough to tell me if I should take a closer look.
Your query letter is the first writing sample that the editor sees from you — just like your cover letter and resume are the first glimpses a prospective manager gets when you’re applying for a job. Or, for another writing analogy, it’s like the title, cover, and back cover copy for your manuscript. It’s in your best interest, and that of your book, to present a strong and compelling case immediately so that an editor or agent is convinced to read further.
With that, let’s blaze through some essentials that will apply whether you are querying a small publisher, one of the Big Five, or anything in between.
- Do your research. There are oodles of blogs and websites out there to tell you how to write a query letter, so that’s my first piece of advice. Do your research, and ask fellow Guildies to read and edit your query letter.
- Don’t rush. Think of your query as part of the manuscript you’ve so lovingly prepared for an agent or editor. It’s just as important, and deserves the same level of time, attention, and revision, maybe even critique or beta-reading.
- Do perfect (and include) your elevator pitch. Any time you talk about or market your book, whether to friends or future readers, your elevator pitch takes center stage. That two- or three-sentence summary of the story — quickly expressing its theme, plot, and hook — is also vitally important to your query letter. I hate to say it, but time and again I’ve gotten query letters that don’t actually tell me what the book is about! Perfect that elevator pitch, and make sure it is front and center, ready to pull me into reading more.
- Don’t tell me the Holy Spirit told you to write the book. Maybe it’s true. But often I see it used as a weak claim to cover up a lack of credentials that actually qualify the writer to write on their chosen topic (see #5.) If the Holy Spirit has been guiding your writing, as I hope he has, the he sees you as a fit instrument, so present yourself. The same holds true for “feeling called” to write on a particular topic — show me your experience or expertise beyond that initial tug of inspiration.
- Do tell me about yourself and/or publisher fit. As we discussed above, show me at a glance why you are qualified to write the book, what writing experience you have, and/or why you are submitting to my publisher in particular. The query letter should also reflect that you have read the publisher’s submission guidelines, and should quickly draw a connection between your manuscript and the publisher’s vision.
- Don’t ramble. Be efficient with your words. Reviewing submissions is one part of an editor’s job, and often it’s like speed dating with writers. If you can show me in a couple of paragraphs that you understand what you are doing with your query letter, I’m that much more likely to take a next step with your proposal.
- Do have someone else proofread your query. I get it — after fifteen read-throughs and as many changes, your eyes glaze right over any errors that might be hiding amid your well-crafted words. Have someone take a look at your query letter before you send it, so that those errors don’t jump out at the editor.
Query letters aren’t something to be scared of or anxious about. They’re simply an important tool that you can wield to great effect, and are one of your best friends if you’re seeking to be traditionally published. I hope these tips guide your efforts and help you on your writing endeavors.
Copyright 2023 Rebecca Martin
The CWG Prayer
Holy Family, guide our minds, our hearts, our hands, as we write, speak, illustrate – help our words to live in union with the Word.
Teach us discipline and skill to use the talents God gives us.
Give us also insight and courage to convey God's love through our craft, and humility to be open to His divine will, shaping our lives, in loving loyalty to His Church.
In Christ's name,