Great Query Letters
with Karma Wilson
*** Verla has set the topic on channel #Kidlit to Great Query Letters Workshop for writers here tonight!
Verla: Workshop starts in about three minutes, folks..
MelLane: Your workshop is just in time, Karma. I'm making a list of publishers to query about Bible curriculum!
KarmaWilso: It will mostly be repeat information, I fear.
KarmaWilso: Query letters are basically, well, basic.
KarmaWilso: We all have it in us to write good ones.
KarmaWilso: We've just been intimidated mainly because all the books and articles titled "How to Write Great Queries"
KarmaWilso: Make us think there's some big "secret".
Verla: Do you need me to do anything before you start, karma?
KarmaWilso: Just jabbering.
KarmaWilso: Not official.
Verla: OH! Did anyone get the podium out? Dust It?
Verla: Check the microphone! Get Karma a glass of vodka...er ... ah.... I mean water!
MelLane sets podium in place.
KarmaWilso: DON'T get me vodka.
KarmaWilso: Unless you want me to start stripping on the podium and trust me, you don't.
NOTE: lol = laughing out loud
MelLane: Here's the water.
Verla: make sure the silly string and confetti is passed out (Note that is NOT "past" out)
MelLane: Hey! I wanted the BLUE can!
zbell: lol Verla
KarmaWilso: Okay, now i have a REALLY gross image of you all "passing" silly string.
zbell whispering into the mike.....testing......testing
Verla: I've seen your picture, karma. It might be a GREAT draw for additional people if you strip...
zbell: yellow!!! mine's the yellow can
MelLane: TOO much imagination, Karma.
KarmaWilso: That's a face shot Verla.
Verla: I got the purple!
MelLane: Here, zbell, let's trade.
KarmaWilso: I could take a hat off, but that's about it.
Christyy: hmmm, verla, that was an interesting first line to come into the room and see! hehe ;)
NOTE: ;) ;-) and :-) are sideways "smiley-faces"
Amishka: I got green
zbell: oh thank you Mel
Verla: Okay... I think everything's ready...anyone test the microphone?
KarmaWilso: Christy, we're just being us.
Christyy: hi mel
KarmaWilso: You know...
Verla: I'll change the sign on the door...
MelLane: You're welcome zbell. Come sit over here. We'll throw spitwads at Verla.
zbell: oh, good plan Mel!
Verla: Hey! Spitwads are GROSS
*** Verla has set the topic on channel #Kidlit to Great Query Letters Workshop for writers IN PROGRESS
MelLane makes room for zbell.
Verla: Yes, karma..
KarmaWilso: Hee hee.
Verla: Stop fighting and behave! This workshop is about to begin everyone...
Verla: While it's in progress, please hold personal hello's, goodbye's and chitchat until after the hour is up.
KarmaWilso: What is a query letter?
KarmaWilso: I'll tell you.
KarmaWilso: A big fat juicy worm if it's good.
KarmaWilso: A dead withered husk of a worm if it's bad.
Verla: HEY! Wait a minute, Karma!
KarmaWilso: You said go!!!
Verla: You haven't been introduced yet. (She snagged some of that vodka, obviously)
KarmaWilso: Oh no...
KarmaWilso: Don't say go until you want ME to go.
KarmaWilso: Ha ha.
Verla: Our workshop leader tonight is Karma Wilson...and she is a MASTER at writing query letters and getting positive responses back from editors
KarmaWilso: Not a master...I'm okay.
Verla removes the gag from Karma...Okay karma...you are ON
KarmaWilso: Okay, I'm not a master.
Verla: (But she really IS, folks!)
KarmaWilso: But I do seem to have a knack for getting postitive response to QUERIES>
KarmaWilso: I've had books requested by Lodestar, Atheneum, The Learning Co.,
KarmaWilso: Child Magazine
KarmaWilso: And others I'm forgetting at the moment.
KarmaWilso: Okay, I'll start again.
KarmaWilso: What's a query letter?
KarmaWilso: I'll tell you.
KarmaWilso: It's a big ol' juicy worm if it's good.
KarmaWilso: Wiggly, and squiggly.
KarmaWilso: If it's bad it's a withered husk of a worm...
KarmaWilso: You want a good one to get that FISHY editor to BITE.
KarmaWilso: (We always wanted to call an editor a fish, right?)
Dani257: I have some OTHER names... :-)
KarmaWilso: Me too.
KarmaWilso: But don't put them in the query. :-)
KarmaWilso: You can plump up your query letters. Contrary to popular myth, queries don't have to be hard.
KarmaWilso: What can query letters do?
KarmaWilso: What can't they do?
KarmaWilso: Any takers?
DonnaB2: Tempt an editor. Make her WANT to read your ms.
NOTE: ms = manuscript
Dani257: Get her excited about it?
DonnaB2: Or, if it's too dry, they WON'T want to read it.
KarmaWilso: Can it sell your book?
_Lyra_: nope--book sells itself ultimately
KarmaWilso: It can't sell it.
KarmaWilso: Only a good book can sell a book.
_Lyra_: but...a good query can result in a sale (g)
KarmaWilso: Right. A query letter can get your book to rise above the slush.
Dani257: Get your foot in the door
KarmaWilso: They CAN show you have the skill to write at least a good letter.
KarmaWilso: It's an introduction to your writing.
Amishka: If you don't have a good query letter but you have a good book the editor will never see it
KarmaWilso: They can ALSO mark you as unprofessional and leave a bad impression if you write them wrong.
DanielJack: What type of priority over "slush" does a query have?
KarmaWilso: Daniel, quite a lot actually--
KarmaWilso: If you can mark your envelope with REQUESTED MATERIAL
KarmaWilso: that means you go straight to the editor's desk.
KarmaWilso: Many publishing houses ONLY take queries and send unsolicited manuscripts back...
DonnaB2: Although a response to a query doesn't necessarily come back any faster than a ms.
KarmaWilso: no, it doesn't...
KarmaWilso: BUT if it gets you to the editors desk, and past that first reader you have one less step to climb.
DanielJack: Do you still get form letters back after you have sent a manuscript (after a query)?
KarmaWilso: It happens all the time.
KarmaWilso: And they hurt worse.
_Lyra_: and even if you're published, you still get form letters when it's a NO
KarmaWilso: Okay, I'll move on.
KarmaWilso: The only time you get personal letters is if the editor sees enough hope and might want to work with you on revisions.
KarmaWilso: OR they think you should send it to somebody else they suggest.
KarmaWilso: Which has happened to me twice.
KarmaWilso: Back to queries.
KarmaWilso: So, where to begin.
KarmaWilso: It's always good to begin at the beginning.
KarmaWilso: Logical, huh?
MelLane: :-) You bet!
Verla: When I was born...
_Lyra_: not in the DARK ages!
KarmaWilso: Not THAT beginning
KarmaWilso: The beginning of your letter
Verla goes and stands in the corner...
_Lyra_: giving Verla a dunce cap (g)
NOTE: (g) = grin
KarmaWilso: should start Dear and then you should have a NAME!
KarmaWilso: Don't make the beginner's mistake of putting dear Editor, or Dear Sir...
Verla: And DON'T put Dear <EDITOR'S NAME GOES HERE>
Dani257: First and last, or just Mr. or Ms.?
_Lyra_: And I've heard women editors HATE to receive Mr..
MelLane: What if you don't know if the editor is a Ms or a Mr?
KarmaWilso: If it's obviously a women I go with Ms.
KarmaWilso: BUT it has to be VERY obvious....
DonnaB2: You can call the publisher and ask the receptionist operator if So-and-So is a Mr., Mrs., etc.
KarmaWilso: You want to make a good impression and if you took the time to find the proper editor, it can make a difference.
MelLane: Ok, that's what I've done in the past. Good.
_Lyra_: If it's not obvious..I say Dear Joe Smith (full name)
_Lyra_: only happened maybe once to me, though
Verla: I was told if you don't know if it's a male or female, you put: Dear Chris Mickleson
KarmaWilso: That's right.
KarmaWilso: Both names.
KarmaWilso: IF you aren't sure.
_Lyra_: I won't remind Dunce Verla that I just said that
Verla: Hmph. I was typing my reply at the same time you were, lyra. You just happen to type FASTER and made a shorter comment, that's all. SNIFF!
KarmaWilso: If it's Amanda Jackson you can be pretty sure it's a woman.
KarmaWilso: Besides there's lots of editors who aren't sirs and might be
KarmaWilso: offended you assumed they were. :-)
_Lyra_: 90% of the editors are women
ClaraRose: What do you do if the writers market book says to submit to 'submissions editor'?
MelLane: Good question!
KarmaWilso: You do it, UNLESS you have met an editor at the house
KarmaWilso: Like, at a conference.
_Lyra_: I always look for a REAL name to submit to...don't like to just send to submissions
KarmaWilso: I don't either, BUT
KarmaWilso: Sometimes they do suggest it, and they don't want writers subbing picture books to a YA editor
KarmaWilso: that they pulled from some market guide...
ClaraRose: how do you start a query to 'submissions editor'... Dear Editor?
KarmaWilso: First, very few houses request this, so don't panic.
KarmaWilso: Many times they have a submissions coordinator and they list the name in Writer's Market guidebooks.
NOTE: Children's Writer's & Illustrator's Market (CWIM) is the most often recommended submission guidebook for children's writers. It can be purchased at most local bookstores, on Amazon.com's website or through Writer's Digest bookclub.
Dani257: Don't editors move around a lot?
KarmaWilso: Yes, they do.
Dani257: Could someone move and you don't know it?
KarmaWilso: Dani yes,
KarmaWilso: BUT publishers give a grace period
MelLane: But what if they don't, Karma?
MelLane: How do you address "Submissions Editor"?
KarmaWilso: If they don't, you write "Editorial Department" and skip the "Dear"
KarmaWilso: OR you write ATTN: Submissions Coordinator...
KarmaWilso: And don't panic!
KarmaWilso: If the rest of your letter is professional they won't toss you because you missed an editor's move
KarmaWilso: Or wrote Editorial Dept.
KarmaWilso: I want to POUND THIS IN YOUR HEAD!!!
KarmaWilso: DON"T SWEAT THE SMALL STUFF!
Verla: Karma! NO violence in this room!
KarmaWilso: Do your best. You can't be in control of the universe.
KarmaWilso: Now, I want to go on..
KarmaWilso: How do you find an editors name..?
KarmaWilso: Well, you can look through your market guides of course, like CWIM (Children's Writers and Illustrators Market).
KarmaWilso: But remember, these are outdated quickly. Stay on top of the market.
DonnaB2: Editors info. from SCBWI. Updates from CBI.
KarmaWilso: Yes, and I get the best information from writers.
KarmaWilso: Talk to other writers.
KarmaWilso: Published writers have the scoop at the house they work for.
KarmaWilso: And they can tell you, "So and so is looking for a pirate story..."
KarmaWilso: Writers are best resourse.
DanielJack: Could you call and ask for a name?
DonnaB2: YES. CALL!
Verla: Yes! You can, Daniel!
KarmaWilso: Yes, if you have doubts at all, pay the 50 cents to call the house and ask.
Verla: Just don't try to talk about your submission. Only tell them what KIND of story it is...like a picture book or easy reader or mid grade or YA and then ask who handles that type of book submission.
KarmaWilso: Remember, the name issue is important enough that some houses, like
KarmaWilso: Harpercollins, will only accept manuscripts addressed to certain editors.
Verla: I want to know what you think the MOST important part of a query letter is.
Verla: like spelling?
Amishka: get the editors attention
DonnaB2: The teaser from your story, description of your story written in the style of the story.
Dani257: That's my biggest worry. Writing in the style of the story
KarmaWilso: I think beyond a shadow of doubt you can get by with spelling errors (minor ones)
KarmaWilso: and even grammer ones.
_Lyra_: I think the most important part is the short tag description you use to describe the story
DonaV: Lyra, me too
Deetle: the hook.
KarmaWilso: I have a help for that I'll get too.
KarmaWilso: A BIG one.
_Lyra_: yeah--the sound bite (g)
KarmaWilso: But if your idea goes on and on and isn't concise or compelling you're dead in the water.
Verla: Okay...so it's the STORY idea in a nutshell that is compelling that is most important to you, then, karma?
KarmaWilso: So, let's move on.
Dani257: I mean, shouldn't the query be professional? And my stories are usually sily or whimsical
KarmaWilso: It should be professional, of course.
_Lyra_: always go professional
_Lyra_: and be SHORT
Verla: (I'm short!)
Verla: (but kinda wide...)
KarmaWilso: BUT you can make mistakes and not know you made them...you can't sweat it.
KarmaWilso: It should be short and conicise.
KarmaWilso: And I'll get to that.
KarmaWilso: Your intro is important.
Verla: okay....the intro...this is right after the DEAR <editor's REAL name>
KarmaWilso: Some believe in listing credentials in the first paragraph. I don't.
KarmaWilso: Many writers have no credentials, so it doesn't work for lots of people anyway.
_Lyra_: My credentials go in the last paragraph (g)
KarmaWilso: I start right in with the story idea itself.
Verla: I used a snippet, an EXCITING snippet of a line or two from my book as the opening "hook" in the letter I sent that sold my first picture book
KarmaWilso: And NEVER say things like: Hi, my name is IMA NEWBIE, and I'm writing so you'll consider my great and wonderful book.
KarmaWilso: Sentences like this mark you as a beginner, and you don't want that.
Dani257: How about my terrible book, but I really need money, so take pity:-)
Verla: No, dani. NO NO NO!
KarmaWilso: You'll see that later dani!
Dani257: Do you have an example, Karma?
KarmaWilso: Yep, and I'm coming to that
KarmaWilso: But first I have an assignment for you that will make writing your intro much easier.
KarmaWilso: You can do this after the workshop. :-)
CLP9999: Great, got my pen and paper ready
KarmaWilso: It's in a joke I have planned.
KarmaWilso: Your assignment.
Verla: plan faster, karma! grin
KarmaWilso: Go to Amazon.com and look up books.
KarmaWilso: Books YOU have read are best. Picture
Verla: (Look up MY books!)
KarmaWilso: books, midgrades, YAs, you name it.
KarmaWilso: I want you to read the small synopsis
KarmaWilso: provided by the publisher.
KarmaWilso: THIS is exactly what THEY want to read in a
DonnaB2: Good idea!
KarmaWilso: You'll note that they are concise, and don't use baggage words. A
KarmaWilso: big ol' plot is squeezed and molded into a wee little paragraph, or
KarmaWilso: sometimes a sentence.
Verla: Well, aren't YOU clever, karma!
KarmaWilso: You can find big clues to the likes and dislikes of a particular house.
KarmaWilso: Take advantage of it.
Verla: I would NOT have thought of using Amazon for that!
MelLane: That's SO smart!
KarmaWilso: Editors like "book jacket" descriptions
Verla: Clever clever idea!
Dani257: Me either. Now I have another excuse to use it
KarmaWilso: And those are primarily a condensed book jakcet.
KarmaWilso: Now, another assignment. I need volunteers.
KarmaWilso: What I want is for you to
KarmaWilso: provide me with a short description of your book.
Verla: The one Putnam put up for Gold Fever on Amazon IS the jacket copy, karma!
KarmaWilso: It should give me the conflict and have some sort of "hook".
KarmaWilso: No pressure. I'll even let you use two sentences. :-)
KarmaWilso: I'll even start:
KarmaWilso: This is a synopsis of my picture book....
KarmaWilso: When a hungry monster chases Zachary Thomas out of his dream and into his room, Zachary and his father whip up some Super, Duper, Extra Strength, Grade A, Bonafide Monster Repellent. Will it work?
_Lyra_: Great, Karma! I'd buy it if I were an editor
KarmaWilso: Nothing fancy.
DonaV: Very good, Karma!
MelLane: Ha. Easy for you to say, Karma.
KarmaWilso: Anybody else?
_Lyra_: I can share an opening I've been using....
_Lyra_: (of course this book hasn't sold)
KarmaWilso: Great Lyra.
KarmaWilso: I know you do good ones.
Verla: Follow pony express riders as they pound and charge their way across the vast stretches of America, delivering mail and news in just days instead of weeks.
_Lyra_: Fate or Choice? Thirteen year old Haley learns how small events can shape the future while she struggles to save a life by facing HERSELF in a parallel world.
_Lyra_: That has sold nothing (yet).
MelLane: It's a GOOD sentence, Lyra.
Verla: But it's GOOD, lyra
DonnaB2: I'm intrigued, Lyra. A parallel world? Neat!
Verla: just hasn't found the right editor yet
DonaV: You worked a theme in too, Lyra!
_Lyra_: I am still trying to sell it (g)
CLP9999: Jeremy's life on a sheep ranch is exciting enough without bringing an untrained young pup AND a half-wild kitten to the camp.
Verla: Good, Clp!
KarmaWilso: That's the idea!
DonnaB2: CLP, can you include mention of the conflict?
KarmaWilso: Yes, donna, and I'm coming to that.
MelLane: Should you always open the letter with your story idea/synopsis?
Verla : It sold my first picture book, mel
KarmaWilso: I like it the best.
KarmaWilso: It gets to the point...doesn't waste time...
KarmaWilso: Okay, do you all get the basic idea?
KarmaWilso: Yes, and for longer works you SHOULD get the theme in there.
_Lyra_: Now for something of mine that actually sold--I began my proposal with this:
KarmaWilso: Okay, due to time, I'm moving forward.
Windy2u: Do you quote lines from your story?
Verla: I did, Windy2u.
KarmaWilso: I'd love to hear everyone's though.
KarmaWilso: Go Lyra.
_Lyra_: This is what I call a book/series sound-bite hook:
_Lyra_: For SCI-CLONES: Party of Five meets the X-Files when five teenagers discover they are the product of a cloning experiment that went wrong.
_Lyra_: of course my series won't be out till next year
KarmaWilso: Good, espescially for a series!
KarmaWilso: Series are much more cutting edge folks.
_Lyra_: When editors go into meetings to try to sell your books to the other editors, they need sound-bites to sell
KarmaWilso: And really, I won't be much help with this one....
KarmaWilso: Lyra's example showed.
KarmaWilso: The editor needs to know right off why the books would sell NOW!
MelLane: Give an example, Karma, please of how to convince an editor the books will sell now?
KarmaWilso: What's hotter with kids NOW then X-files and Party of five?
Verla: I think you can use other things, too...like...
Verla: My book is different from the other books on the market about new babies because...
KarmaWilso: Okay, then I'll go on.
J-Ulmer: Is there a difference in queries for non-fiction?
KarmaWilso: Yes, there is.
DanielJack: With the clip, are you supposed to leave the editor hanging (to increase his/her interest)?
KarmaWilso: Daniel, I do.
KarmaWilso: They don't need the ending before they've read it.
KarmaWilso: They just need a compelling reason to READ it at all.
Amishka: Should you let an editor know if the book has been tested in schools?
_Lyra_: I don't think so
KarmaWilso: Amishka, no.
Verla: I don't think so, amishka...unless it is an activity book of some sort, like crafts, etc. Then you could say that the crafts in the book had all been field tested.
KarmaWilso: Yes, good point Verla.
KarmaWilso: Editors are always told, "Kids love this."
KarmaWilso: Don't do that.
KarmaWilso: What next? Well, that's up to you. You have to squeeze in a line with
KarmaWilso: title and word count.
KarmaWilso: I do something like this...
KarmaWilso: My picture book, Zachary Thomas and the Magnificent Monster Repellent Recipe (900 words) is humorous and provides good illustration opportunities.
MelLane: Would this be the second paragraph of the letter?
KarmaWilso: I also mention that the book depicted fathers interacting with sons in a non-traditional way that would appeal to moms, the usual buyers.
_Lyra_: the father angle is quite good, Karma
ClaraRose: I usually lead up to the title in the first part. (If I can)
DonnaB2: Do you include age range the story is appropriate for, or let an editor decide that after reading?
KarmaWilso: Donna, no.
KarmaWilso: The editor should know from your synopsis the approximate target age.
Verla: I didn't, I let the editors do that.
Verla: you need to give an editor credit for having imagination and brains.
ClaraRose: you do?
KarmaWilso: I also cut this information into two paragraphs.
KarmaWilso: The title and synopsis in the first, the other information in the second.
KarmaWilso: But that's up to you.
KarmaWilso: In this particular query I also added some humor. I said: Be assured that it doesn't rhyme and the monsters don't talk.
MelLane: Other information? Like, why it would sell?
KarmaWilso: Mel, that can sure be good.
KarmaWilso: I did that with the non-traditional dad thing.
Verla: Oh, CUTE, karma! I bet you had the editor's attention with THAT line. Probably had her smiling
_Lyra_: I like your humor, Karma (g) Shows you know the market
KarmaWilso: Dads don't usually get up and make repellent with kids, but MOMS wish they did, and MOMS buy.
KarmaWilso: That was my intention, and it worked very well.
_Lyra_: I want to read this book, Karma!
KarmaWilso: In fact, I emailed this query before I knew that was a no-no...
KarmaWilso: It was a big house.
KarmaWilso: Anyway, I emailed this query....
KarmaWilso: Like a fool!
_Lyra_: did they reply to it?
KarmaWilso: And twenty minutes later got a note from the Senior editor.
KarmaWilso: And she wanted to see the book
KarmaWilso: Adddressed to her.
Verla: You DID?
_Lyra_: wow!!! That's so neat, Karma!
DonaV: That is great, Karma!
MelLane: That's great, Karma!
KarmaWilso: And she even shared a personal ancedote about her daughter.
Amishka: that's even better
CLP9999: Generally though E-mailing Queries is a No-No?
KarmaWilso: DON'T email queries...
Verla: Yes, emailing ANYTHING to an editor unless you are REQUESTED to do so, or it's an on-line editor, is a VERY big NO-NO. So is Faxing
KarmaWilso: The story has a sad ending...
KarmaWilso: The branch I sent to was dropped...unexpectedly.
KarmaWilso: So, I never did get my "big shot".
KarmaWilso: I just wanted you to know that even a goof can be overcome by a truly good query.
Dani257: Ooh, that's bad
_Lyra_: I never email queries...but now that I have an editor, we email each other instead of phone calls
_Lyra_: except to online publishers (g)
Verla: I already SAID that, lyra!
_Lyra_: getting dunce cap and sitting in Verla's corner chair (g)
SallyA: My non-fiction has MANY photographs available. When should that be mentioned?
Verla: Yes, Sally. I think it should. You could say something like, Numerous photographs are available to compliment the text of XXX <name of article/story/book>
KarmaWilso: I would mention it in the first or second paragraph Sally, and it's a good thing to mention.
MelLane: What else do you include in the second paragraph, Karma?
KarmaWilso: Mel, for me it depends on the book.
KarmaWilso: Okay, so first paragraph title synsopsis/hook...
KarmaWilso: Second paragraph/ marketing info...why you should write the book (especially non-fiction) and other relevent info.. (pictures, interesting facts, etc...)
Verla: ah ha! this is where my 150th anniversary sales hook would come in
Verla: Yikes!..only ten minutes left, karma...speed it up..we are only on the second paragraph here!
KarmaWilso: NOTE: Usually it's better to just submit a picture book and not query.
KarmaWilso: Here's my new method.
NOTE: PBS = picture books
KarmaWilso: If the publisher says ONLY QUERY, even for PBS, and
KarmaWilso: the picture book is four pages or under, I sub it with the query. KarmaWilso: But, you must do what you think is right.
KarmaWilso: Next I put credentials
KarmaWilso: If you have no credentials skip this part. If you have
KarmaWilso: unrelated credentials, skip this part (for instance, you've written lots of
KarmaWilso: magazine articles for Home Mechanic...uh, yea? It would be irrelevant
KarmaWilso: UNLESS you subbed a picture book about mechanics for young kids. See?)
Verla: Or...the information that you have taught preschool for XXX years and are therefore very familiar with what they like to hear
Verla: but if you are a teacher
Verla: or have been involved with kids in scouts or sunday schools or something that is RELEVANT to your story...then DO put it in
Verla: Or if you are an expert in computers...and your story is about computer-land, then do mention it
KarmaWilso: Mention things like being a librarian, or being a teacher...
KarmaWilso: Yes, if you are a teacher...
KarmaWilso: mention it..
KarmaWilso: Teachers are given special consideration--they usually know the market more than most.
KarmaWilso: Yes, but weigh it...
_Lyra_: If you've published in the more prominent magazines, like Cricket, that probably doesn't hurt to include--but briefly
_Lyra_: don't give the story names, dates published, all the little information
_Lyra_: I would keep it to something like: I've sold numerous short stories to magazines including Cricket and Highlights...
KarmaWilso: Exactly Lyra.
KarmaWilso: You don't want the editor rolling their eyes thinking, "WHY do I need to know their life story?""
KarmaWilso: Very briefly.
KarmaWilso: Yes, a magazine credit is good, IF it's for kids writing.
DonaV: You mean they don't want to know my dog's name? :(
KarmaWilso: Not unless he's your character, Dona.
Verla: Only if your story is about your dog and the dog has saved someone's life or something and that's what you are writing about, dona
Verla: You just want them to say, AHA! This person knows her subject matter. So her/his story will be relevant and good
DonnaB2: How does a query differ from a cover letter? Do you put a teaser / story description in a cover letter, too?
KarmaWilso: Donna, yes,
KarmaWilso: A synopsis at the beginning.
KarmaWilso: For covers you skip synopsis...
Verla: I did, donna. My cover letter was a query letter in disguise...because I queried, then attached the short picture book manuscript
Verla: I mean, my whole BOOK was only 150 words long!
LindaSm: Karma...what do you think about querying houses closed to unsolicited?
KarmaWilso: I think it's the only way to break in.
KarmaWilso: Atheneum is closed,
LindaSm: and you queried?
KarmaWilso: BUT they've given positive response to every query I've sent them.
KarmaWilso: About four now, I think.
LindaSm: I agree. I give that same advice but wondered how you felt
DonnaB2: I've had positive responses from Atheneum as well.
KarmaWilso: They aren't too picky.
KarmaWilso: They're just weeding out real ameteaurs.
Verla: I queried with the manuscript attached, lindaSm
LindaSm: I'm talking about those that say "no" to unsolicited, Verla. I used to query anyway and got good responses
MelLane: Did you, LindaS? I wondered about that.
Dani257: But doesn't unsolicited mean they want the manuscript sent without a query>
LindaSm: I did all the time. Thought their slushpiles would be smaller
KarmaWilso: Okay, next?
SallyA: Can you clarify "Why you should write the book?": non-fiction
Verla: You should be the one writing the book sally, because of your "experience, expertise, location, occupation, etc"
KarmaWilso: I'm running out of time guys,
KarmaWilso: And I can't go over.
KarmaWilso: So, I'm going to go ahead, okay?
KarmaWilso: Now you want to get rid of the pesky stuff. If you want your manuscript back briefly note you provided a SASE with appropriate postage for your manuscript's return.
KarmaWilso: If you don't want it back, mention you provided a SASE for reply only.
KarmaWilso: For queries I don't even mention Sim subs. It's none of their business unless they request the book. If they request it, mention it in your cover letter.
MelLane: Good advice, Karma!
KarmaWilso: Now you want to thank them for their time. Sometimes it's good to use this last paragraph as a kissy kissy paragraph. :-) This means you use your research of the publisher to your advantage.
LindaSm: You did great Karma!!!
NOTE: The server hosting the chat room had technical difficulties and everyone was booted out at this point and no one could get back in. So Karma emailed the remainder of her workshop notes to me to post for all of you.
I enjoyed doing the query letter workshop. It was a lot of fun.
Unfortunately the room went dead before I could share my top five list.
Those of you who attended my coping with rejection workshop may recall my top five list of what NOT to do with a rejection letter.
This is my top five list of what NOT to put in a query letter. It's just
for fun, but since I thought of it I didn't want it to go to waste. So, for
the education of the masses here is my list.... :-)
Here's my top five list of things you don't want to say in your query.
1) Dear Editor,
If you reject this, I have two words for you--DEATH THREAT.
2) Dear Editor,
My children tell me Robby Racquetball is a delightful story. Kids think the idea of a talking racquetball is delightful, especially since it's in Suess-like verse. My Grandma begged me to send it to fifteen different publishers--lucky you, you're one!
3) Dear Editor,
Enclosed is my psychological thriller picture book. Follow Tommy as he terrorizes other kindergartners with Daddy's 357. What will happen?
3) Dear Editor,
I'm starving. My kids wear moth-eaten hand me downs. My roof leaks. I'm out of self esteem. Take pity. Please. Pretty pretty please? I could pay YOU to publish my book if that would work for you better. I have 3 dollars and a stick of Trident gum.
5) Dear Editor,
I think your list kind of sucks, but everyone else rejected me already.
-----END OF WORKSHOP-----
THANK YOU for a WONDERFUL workshop, Karma! Everyone really got a LOT out of it.
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