Monday, June 26, 2017

Before You Send Your Query Letter

I'm waving at you from beneath the huge pile of virtual papers we refer to as the slush pile. It's massive. It's overwhelming. And yet, I know that it's also a pile of the hopes and dreams of writers like me and you.

When I approach the slush pile, it's with the hope of finding a gem that my company can bring to publication. I strive to give everyone a fair chance. However, time is not only valuable, but it's scarce. I can't devote a half hour to every submission. The pile would grow faster than I could pare it down. Writers only get a couple of minutes to grab my attention. While this can be disconcerting, I believe knowledge is power.

Put yourself the acquisition editor's or literary agent's shoes. What would you want to know about the story? What's most important about your manuscript and you as the author? Get them that important information as quickly as possible.

Here are a few things I want to know right away:

  • Genre
  • Target audience
  • Word count
  • Title

Surprisingly, these items are missing from many submissions I receive. To make matters worse, many writers don't read our submission guidelines to know we don't publish adult fiction, picture books, or non-Canadian writers. These folks are wasting my time and theirs by submitting. The Golden Rule applies. If you were the person feverishly going through hundreds of submissions, what types of submissions would you want to receive?


When Melinda Marshall Friesen isn't writing, she works as marketing director and acquisitions editor at Rebelight Publishing.

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