Friday, May 20, 2011

Ten Steps of a Successful Query Letter

Would you like to cut down on your rejections? Who wouldn't? The query letter is key in a writer's success. Here are ten proven steps of great queries.

  1. Make a thirty second phone call to the publishing house. Request the editorial department. Request the name of the editor who covers the topic of your proposed article or book topic. Confirm spelling and address.
  2. Write an attention-grabbing story title and use it in the subject line of your letter after "Story Proposal."
  3. Hook the editor in the first paragraph with your best creative writing.
  4. Introduce something new, maybe provocative, that will make the editor want to read your manuscript.
  5. Deliver your manuscript's focus. Tell why the readers will find value in your story.
  6. Suggest the area of the publication where your story will fit. If you do this, the editor won't have to figure it out. One less job of him/her to do.
  7. Give the approximate word count. The editor wants to know if it will fit in the section you suggested.
  8. Tell why you are qualified to write the story. Do you have credentials or have you interviewed and/or performed the required research?
  9. Tie up your query letter with a convincing statement that will make your project hard for the editor to reject.
  10. Attach samples of your previous work and close with your contact information.
As a Christian writer, I start and end my letter with prayer, asking God to bless my efforts as well as go before and with my correspondence, trusting Him to lead me to the right projects and publishers.

I am offering Queries and Submissions by Tom Clark, and recommended by Terry Whalin, to the first five people to subscribe to this blog and leave a comment. Also, please e-mail me at with your mailing address.


  1. Sue, Great website! Did you mean you actually write a prayer into your query letter? Maybe a good idea even if you only meant to begin and end the process with prayer.

  2. Great beginning. Clear and to-the-point advice. I'll look forward to following your blog. Thanks, Sue.

  3. No, Chris, it's not part of the letter but part of the process. Maybe I need to edit my post to make that more clear. Thank you for your comment.

  4. Thank you, Pat. I hope you find the information helpful.

  5. Sue - You've reminded me of the most important part of the process, which I've been forgetting -- praying. Thank you for the whack upside the head.

  6. Thank you for your comment, Goooh. You are welcome for the reminder. It works for me.

  7. Writing a successful query letter is the next thing I need to learn in order to move forward with longer pieces (my goal for the year). I'm so glad you are sharing the "how to" with us. Your numerous published writings prove you're an expert on this subject. Thank you for the ten points + prayer.


    the query letter seems

  8. Thank you, Ellen for your comments. I'm happy to help people along the way, but I feel like I'm learning myself.

  9. Thanks for sharing your expertise in an easy to follow and practical way.



  10. You are welcome, Jeanne. I am glad you find the content helpful. It is my goal to keep sending you information you can use in your writing. Love your blog too.