We’re getting a lot of queries at the moment, and the most important rule about querying anyone obviously is to follow that party’s submission guidelines/requirements, but I also figure it might be helpful for the authors out there to see some samples of successful query and follow-up letters we’ve received (whether they’d be successful with any other publisher is anyone’s guess, of course).
Today and tomorrow, I’ll be posting the query and follow-up letters from an author we’re currently negotiating a contract with.
The following is the initial query letter. It’s not perfect, but we tend to skim past the grammatical and punctuation imperfections when the information supplied is exactly what we’re looking for.
Below please find my bio and summary for my short novel (191 pages) [title], as well as the first 5,500 words. Sorry to go over the 5,000 limit, but I wanted to get the final two pages of the chapter included. There is a lot of information below about me, my credits, etc, and if it is too much info forgive me, but I figure I only have your attention once, I may as well try and give you as much material as I have.
The audience for [title] are people who like smart writing that is readable, artistic writing that is not pompous, compelling stories, a strong narrator, and quirkiness. My writing has always been just a little offbeat which will hopefully become evident to you by the end of the 5,000 words below.
As for marketing, I learned my lesson about the importance of marketing and publicity when Scribner and NAL published my first book. I did nothing, I left it up to them, and they did nothing so essentially I had a book out that no one had ever heard of by an author that no one had ever heard of. If I get a second chance that won’t happen again. If [title] finds a home I will use my own resources to figure out how to get the word out to as many people as possible as well as all the opportunities on the web.
Anyway, I think what you are doing is not only very cool but important, too. I hope you enjoy the submission and regardless, I wish you luck and all the encouragement in the world. If you have any questions please feel free to write or call.
[4-paragraph synopsis of novel]
[Name] is the author of [title], which was published by Scribner in 2002 and New American Library in 2003. The book was also published by Piatkus Books in the United Kingdom and was translated into Dutch and published in Holland by Ambos Anthos.
[Name] received his MFA from the Naropa Institute in 1999. His fiction and non-fiction have been published by several journals, including Damaged Goods, The Sun, The Lullwater Review, and 2wice magazine. On the web his work has been published at several zines including Eclectica, La Petit Zine and The Rose and Thorn.
In 2006/2007 [name] was the writer and producer of the film [title], which was produced by [company name] and Executive Produced by [name], who directed [well-known film] and [well-known film] amongst other films. [Title] stars [list of five main actors]. The film is currently in post production.
More information on [author] can be found at [author’s website]. Information about the movie, [title], can be found at [IMDB URL].
Praise for [title of first novel]:
“[A] heartfelt, genial comedy….[name] isn’t content merely to show us the game. Rather he homes in on the players’ strategies and bluffs and doubts: the relentless and, in [name]’s views, ultimately necessary gamesmanship of love, class, and self.” –Los Angeles Times
“This debut novel is a humorous take on love and relationships today.” –Chicago Tribune
“Out-loud laughs on just about every page….[name] spits out dry one-liners like a verbal Gatling gun….But this novel isn’t all chuckles. [name] makes astute, serious observations about his characters and, by extension, human nature.”—The Boulder Daily Camera
“[name]’s cheeky debut starts off as an ironic romantic comedy about a tentative twenty-something couple as they edge toward commitment, but the author displays a stunning gift for black humor when the hidden motives for their partnership suddenly emerge…a great comic ending…a witty engaging narrator.”—Publishers Weekly
“[name], in fact, achieved a rare balance in his debut novel, with equal parts commercial appeal and masterful prose technique.” —Colorado Daily
“[A] lively story of dysfunctional youth and irresponsible behavior with a promise of mature redemption” –The Sunday Mirror
“[An] hilarious and angst-ridden roller-coaster ride…you’ll struggle to turn a page without laughing outloud.” –Peterborough Evening Telegraph
“[A] story filled with the tragicomedy of personal relationships and the fragility of the psyche, [name]’s characters search for meaning and substance in the sometimes painful process of learning to live.”–Booklist
[5,000 word sample of new novel]