Nancy's Books

Sunday, August 21, 2016

Writing a Query Letter

Writing a query letter can be as difficult as writing the manuscript and certainly not as much fun. My query letters include three parts. These parts do not have to follow the order listed here, but I incorporate each component into every query letter. 

1.      The opening should include the genre, word count, title, hook and synopsis.

Example: Enclosed is a 521-word picture book manuscript, THE FIRST FIRE, A CHEROKEE LEGEND, an authentic Cherokee folktale about animals finding and bringing home fire to warm their world. (I capitalize the manuscript title but italics will also work.)

One option is to include brief text cut from the manuscript. (First sentence listed here from FIRST FIRE.) When the world was new, nights painted the earth with sparkly, lacy frost.

In another example for an up-coming fictional picture book, GONE CUCKOO, I opened the query letter with a hook: Adoption isn’t just for children. In the animal kingdom, cuckoo birds find foster parents to raise their young.

A one-paragraph synopsis is the most important part of the query. Introduce the character, the conflict, and the basic plot. Write this as though it will be the description on the book jacket. 

2.      Introduce yourself and if the manuscript is nonfiction, your qualifications for writing a book on that particular subject. List your experiences as a writer, along with publishing credits including books, articles, etc. Beginning writers can list workshops and literary groups in which you have participated.
3.      Contact information and appreciation. Thank the editor for reading your manuscript, mention that you have enclosed, embedded, or attached the requested pages (check website for the number of pages the editor wants), and provide address, phone number, and email address. If you have a website or other social media profiles, list those under you name. 

Polish your manuscript and query letter. Strong impressions are lasting impressions.

Call for submissions for Adult Writers
Chicken Soup for the Soul: Inspiration for Teaches
101 Stories about How You Make a Difference
Being a teacher is hard, and we know that teachers sometimes need a morale boost, some reassurance that what they do matters, and some new, fun ideas for the classroom.

Being a teacher is not what you do... it's who you are. You don't stop being a teacher when the dismissal bell rings. You are always a teacher. Teachers influence and shape the future. Teachers inspire and motivate students each and every day. Teachers don’t teach for the great salaries; they teach because of the rewards they get when a student thrives, or when a student has a "WOW" moment because of a teacher's guidance.

We are looking for true stories by and about teachers.

Here are some ideas but we know you can think of many more:
•     I am a teacher and this is why I teach
•     The teacher who changed my life
•     The student who changed my life
•     My first year teaching
•     Learning from the students
•     Embarrassing moments
•     Staying enthusiastic year after year
•     Tough situations
•     That WOW moment
•     Turning negative into positive
•     Funny moments
•     Challenging yourself
•     Stepping out of your comfort zone
•     Great tips to share with other teachers
•     Your best piece of advice for new teachers
•     Your best piece of advice to re-energize a teacher
•     Reflections on being a teacher

Please remember, we no longer publish "as told to" stories. Write your story or poem in the first person. Do not ghostwrite a story for someone else unless you list that person as the author. If a story was previously published, we will probably not use it unless it ran in a small circulation venue. Let us know where the story was previously published in the "Comments" section of the submission form.

All stories should be true — we do not publish fiction — and should be no longer than 1,200 words. If your story was already published in a past Chicken Soup for the Soul book, please do not submit it. We will not publish it again. If you already submitted a story for this title please do not submit it again. We have it in our database and it will be considered for this title. If you submitted a story for one of our previous books and we did not publish it, please feel free to submit it to this book if you think will fit. That way we will be sure it is considered for this new edition.

If your story is chosen, you will be a published author and your bio will be printed in the book if you so choose. You will also receive a check for $200 and 10 free copies of your book, worth more than $100. You will retain the copyright for your story and you will retain the right to resell it or self-publish it.

SUBMISSIONS GO TO OUR WEBSITE. Select the Submit Your Story link at the bottom of the page and follow the directions.


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