Wednesday, November 4, 2009
Queries, attachments and What We Are Looking For.
How do you write a query letter? Every day I receive probably ten to twenty-five queries. This doesn’t include actual proposals. I hope most of you know that a query is not a proposal. The confusion is what to put in a query letter. I realize that there are varying opinions and directions on how to write a query letter on the internet and in books, but for Hartline Literary Agency, this is what we would like to see:
A professional introduction using agent’s correct name
The name of the work
Author’s name & contact information
One or two paragraph summary of the book
Completion date of work – this can be a general idea.
This can all be on one page. A query is just to see if your book is something we would be interested in seeing. If we are interested we will ask for a complete proposal. Most of the queries I receive are simply summaries of the book. That just isn’t enough information, there are a zillion ideas floating around out there, but we need to know who you are and why you are qualified to write the book. We automatically reject this type query.
Another subject, attachments. We don’t open attachments without the author’s name, a bio, publishing history and a summary in the body of the e-mail. This is almost the same as a query. The main difference is the proposal is attached. We need to know who you are before we open the attachment because of the many viruses out in cyberspace. Unlike some agencies we like attachments. We do require that the proposal be in one big file. We cannot open proposals with each chapter in a separate file.
What are we looking for? Romance, romance, romance. We will look at women’s fiction, which includes girlfriend stories or any well written book that will appeal to women. Stories with women protagonists are best. We also like comedy and some mysteries and suspense, although that particular market isn’t huge right now. Competition is fierce these days and the publishers are looking for authors who are published and whose sales numbers are substantial.
Non-fiction, we are looking at books by authors with a platform and books that are well-written. New, fresh ideas are good. Give us an idea of which publishers you feel your work will fit. Also, know the word count of those publishers. Visit their web sites; see what they are looking for, what type books they publish. If you are a new author, Steeple Hill is a good place for you. Also, some other CBA publishes will look at new authors. That’s where an agent helps you; we know the publishers and the editors.
There is more information on our web site, or if you have questions, ask us. We’re happy to reply.