Nancy's Books

Sunday, August 14, 2016

Writing Query Letters

Writing a polished manuscript is merely the first step in getting a publishing contract. Next is the query letter, which introduces the writer and the story to the editor. Each submission requires a query letter whether the submission is made via the U.S. Postal Service or an email.

Before writing, I always check the publisher’s website to see what is expected in the letter. Some want a particular set of information. If so, I follow the guidelines exactly. If not, I write a general query letter written specifically for the manuscript. Another step I take is to check for interviews by the editor. I usually fine one or more. Reading the interviews provides information that is not found on a publisher’s website. Sometime an editor may say she is looking for a particular type of story or prefers to know why a writer selected her as the best editor for a manuscript. Interviews provide that information. If an editor states that she enjoys picture book stories with quirky, humorous characters, I include that in my letter if the information fits. This tells the editor that the writer has done her homework and not just picked her name out of a hat. Google the editor’s name plus the word “Interview” and you should find some hits.
Your objective is to make the editor like your character and plot so well they want to read more. The pitch should hook the editor immediately; if not, s/he may not look at the sample pages of the manuscript. If my book is humorous, I add a dose of humor to the query in the same style as used in the manuscript. These letters are intended to be short so keep them to one page. Short and sweet wins the race.
Next week, I’ll give more tips on writing a query letter.
Call for submissions for Adult Writers

Chicken Soup for the Soul. Small gestures can make a big difference in someone's day, even in someone's life. In our fast-paced world many people tend to only pay attention to what is important to them. So it is wonderful and heartwarming to hear stories about people who have gone out of their way to do something for someone without being asked. Just because it was the kind thing to do. Just because it was the right thing to do. Many times the person who receives the act of kindness is a total stranger, someone who will not be able to repay your kindness. Has someone performed a random act of kindness for you? Did you pay it forward and do something kind for someone else? How did it feel to receive that kindness? And how did it feel to perform a kindness for someone else?

We are looking for true stories about random acts of kindness that have happened to you or stories about a kindness that you performed for someone else. Stories can be serious or funny but they should definitely inspire our readers to look for ways in which they can perform kind acts.

Here are some ideas but we know you can think of many more:
•     Changing your life by doing one random act of kindness each day
•     Changing your attitude by doing one random act of kindness each day
•     Performing an act of kindness for a family member
•     Performing an act of kindness for a total stranger
•     Paying it forward
•     Remaining anonymous — doing something nice for someone who will never know who you are or what you did
•     The unexpected benefits of doing something kind for someone
•     The unexpected benefits you got from something kind someone did for you
•     The pleasures you got from doing a kind deed
•     How performing an act of kindness changed your life
•     How an act of kindness you received changed your life
•     Having an epiphany about kindness in your life — what did you learn by performing a random act of kindness?
•     Turning negative into positive

Deadline: September 15, 2016
Guideline submissions at


  1. Lot's of good information here, Nancy. Thank for the tips about looking interviews. That's one I hadn't thought about, but will definitely do.

  2. Interviews usually offer more specific information than the publisher's website.