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How to write a letter to an author

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How to write a letter to an author
October 24, 2018 Anniversary Wishes 3 comments

All authors have seen and approved the manuscript and have contributed I publish in the field of civil engineering and I never write a cover letter (but my.

Many journals require a cover letter and state this in their guidelines for authors (alternatively known as author guidelines, information for authors, guide for authors, guidelines for papers, submission guide, etc.). For some journals, a cover letter is optional or may not be not required, but it’s probably a good idea to include one.

Why do some journals ask for cover letters?

Cover letters can be helpful to journal staff in the following ways.

1. Cover letters that include standard statements required by the journal allow the journal staff to quickly confirm that the authors have (or say they have) followed certain ethical research and publishing practices.

These statements assert that the authors followed standard practices, which may include (i) adhering to ethical guidelines for research involving humans (Declaration of Helsinki), involving animals (ARRIVE guidelines), or falling under institutional guidelines; (ii) obtaining ethics approval from institutional review boards or ethics committees; (iii) obtaining informed consent or assent from participants; (iv) complying with authorship criteria (e.g., ICMJE criteria); (v) confirming no duplicate submissions have been made; and (vi) recommending reviewers for your paper, which may include specifying peers that you prefer not be contacted.

2. Cover letters can summarize your manuscript quickly for the journal editor, highlighting your most important findings and their implications to show why your manuscript would be of interest.

Some journals, such as Nature, state that while a cover letter is optional, it provides “an excellent opportunity to briefly discuss the importance of the submitted work and why it is appropriate for the journal.” Some publishers, such as Springer, recommend that you write a cover letter to help “sell” your manuscript to the journal editor.

3. Cover letters that contain all of the information required by the journal (as stated in the guideline for authors) can indicate that you have spent time carefully formatting the manuscript to fit the journal’s style. This creates a good first impression. Addressing the letter to a named editor at the journal also shows that you took the time to write your letter (and by extension, your manuscript) with care and considered the fit with the journal beyond just impact factor.

What makes an effective cover letter?

Cover letters should be short—preferably no more than 1 page—and they often use single line spacing. The content can be broadly divided into six sections:

Cover letters can be submitted as normal text files, such as Word, or input directly in a field in the journal’s online submission system.
  1. Addressee’s information and date of submission
  2. Opening salutation
  3. Purpose statement and administrative information
  4. Summary of main research findings and implications
  5. Statements or information required by the journal
  6. Closing salutation and your contact information

Let’s look at some tips for each section. And don’t forget to download the template, which shows these tips already in place.

1. Addressee’s information and date of submission

  • Check the journal’s website for the name of the editor who handles submissions; this could be the Managing Editor or an editor assigned to your geographical region. If no handling editor is named, address your cover letter to the Editor-in-Chief. Some journals ask that you identify a specific editor for your specialty.
  • Write the name of the addressee in the top left corner of the page.
  • Write the date beneath. To minimize the number of line breaks used in your cover letter (and help keep it to one page of text), you can put the date to the right if you wish.
  • Note that dates written as numerals only can be confusing: 02/03/2017 can be read “2 March 2017” in British and “3 February 2017” in American English. Using the format “3 February 2017” or “February 3, 2017” is clear.

2. Opening salutation

  • Write the title and last name of the addressee (exclude the first name); for example, “Professor Brown” or “Dr. Baker” (British English: “Dr Baker”).
  • If you can’t find a named editor on the journal website, then you can use the opening salutation “Dear Editor”.
  • At the end of the opening salutation, you can use a comma or a colon; that is, “Dear Dr. Baker,” or “Dear Dr. Baker:” (British English uses the comma; American English uses either, but the colon is considered more formal).

3. Purpose statement and administrative information

  • Clearly state the purpose of your letter (that you are submitting a manuscript) and then state your manuscript title, author names (or first author “Brown et al.”), and article type (e.g., original paper).
  • Be sure to use the journal’s own terminology to refer to the article type; for example, some journals use the term “Regular Articles” for a full research paper, whereas others use “Original Submissions”, “Full Papers”, “Original Articles”, among others.
  • See the downloadable Word template for an example sentence that presents this information clearly and concisely.
  • If your submission consists of many files, consider summarizing them in one short sentence so that the journal editor is sure all of the files have been received; for example, “There are 8 files in all: 1 main manuscript file, 1 highlights file, 3 figure files, 1 table file, 1 supplementary data file, and 1 supplementary figures file”.

4. Summary of main research findings and implications

  • In a new paragraph, summarize the purpose of your research (the research gap or problem it addresses), the main findings, and finally the implications of these findings. This is your main chance to highlight the value of your work to the journal editor, so keep this short and focused. (Journal editors may receive thousands of submissions annually, and many fulfill editing duties on top of their own research and teaching schedule, so you should strive to make their jobs easier by providing as concise a summary as possible.)
  • Be sure to tailor your statements so that they're in line with the readership of the journal. For example, if you are submitting to a more general journal that has a diverse readership, underscore the possible impact your findings could have in multiple fields. Conversely, if you are submitting to a publication with narrow scope, you can write about your findings in highly focused terms.
  • Avoid simply reproducing sentences verbatim from the abstract—which the journal editor will likely read next. Instead, if you take sentences from your abstract as a base to work from, then try to craft a much shorter summary that clearly fits the journal’s focus and that highlights the implications of your work for the journal’s readers. In fact, Nature guidelines state specifically to “avoid repeating information that is already present in the abstract and introduction.”
  • When stating that you think your work is a good fit for the journal, be sure not to use exaggerated flattery. Avoid using words like “esteemed” and “prestigious” to describe the journal: “We believe that these findings will be of interest to the readers of your esteemed/prestigious journal.”
  • It’s helpful to the journal editor to state if your work directly relates to a paper published by another author in the same journal. Also, mention if your study closely relates to or extends your previously published work, so it is clear why your submitted manuscript is novel or important enough to publish.

Common phrases in this paragraph:

Summarizing the purpose of your research
  • This study presents/summarizes/examines…
  • X remains a problem for (engineers/software developers/local government). In this study, we (examined/investigated/developed and tested)…
Presenting your main results
  • Our main findings/results were that…
  • The most interesting/important findings were that…
  • Most importantly, our findings can improve/reduce/help…
Highlighting the relevance of your findings
  • These findings should enable (engineers/doctors/local government) to…
  • We believe that these findings will be of interest to the readers of your journal.

5. Statements or information required by the journal

  • In this new paragraph, provide any statements that the journal requires be included in your cover letter. Be sure to review the journal’s guidelines to know what information you should provide.
  • Some journals or publishers have very specific requirements. For example, PLOS requires that authors describe any prior interactions with the journal in the cover letter, as well as suggest appropriate Academic Editors from the journal’s editorial board to handle the submission.
  • Some journals require that sentences are provided verbatim in the cover letter. The guidelines will tell you to copy and paste the sentence provided in quotation marks into the cover letter. For example, Springer states that cover letters should contain two specific sentences: “We confirm that this manuscript has not been published elsewhere and is not under consideration by another journal” and “All authors have approved the manuscript and agree with its submission to [insert the name of the target journal].”
  • Several statements pertaining to research and publication ethics are commonly required by journals across a broad range of fields. These are given in our downloadable Word template. When using the template, you can retain the statements in full, revise them slightly as appropriate to your circumstances, replace them with any similar wording required by the journal, or delete them if they do not fit your specific situation.

Common phrases in this paragraph:

Previous contact with the journal
  • We state that we have had no previous contact with the journal regarding this submission.
  • We previously contacted the journal to inquire about/to check whether…
Conflict of interests and financial disclosures
  • The authors have no conflicts of interest to declare.
  • X.Y. advises Company A and has received lecture fees from Company B.
  • This study was supported by a grant from Z.
  • No financial support was received for this study/work.
Authorship
  • A.B. conceived the study, analyzed the data, and drafted the manuscript; C.D. analyzed the data…
  • All authors have approved the manuscript and agree with its submission to the journal.
  • All authors approved the final version of the manuscript and agree to be accountable for all aspects of this work.
Suggested reviewers
  • Potential reviewers for our manuscript are:
  • We believe that the following individual(s) would be well suited to reviewing our manuscript.
Request to exclude reviewers
  • We request that the following individual(s) not be approached to review our manuscript (because…).
Concurrent/duplicate submissions
  • We declare that this manuscript has not been published before, in whole or in part, and is not currently being considered for publication elsewhere.
  • This study was presented in part at…
  • This study was previously published in Japanese (citation) and…

6. Closing salutation and your contact information

  • Briefly thank the journal editor for considering the manuscript and follow this with the full contact information of the corresponding author (name, academic degrees or professional qualifications; affiliation and postal address; telephone (and fax); email).
  • Be sure to maintain a collegial tone to leave the journal editor with the best impression as he or she finishes reading your cover letter and moves on to evaluate your manuscript.
  • Avoid statements that could be construed as presuming to give instructions to the editor. For example, “we look forward to your review of our manuscript” implicitly directs the editor to review your paper. Also, we look forward to hearing from you “at your earliest convenience/as soon as possible” implicitly directs the editor to communicate with you quickly; instead, simply use a neutral but polite phrase such as “we look forward to hearing from you” or “we look forward to hearing from you in due course”.
  • A suitable closing salutation is “Sincerely,” or “Yours sincerely,”

Summary

Although the cover letter is not, strictly speaking, a part of your manuscript, it can affect how your submission is perceived by the journal editor. A cover letter that is tailored to the journal, introduces your work persuasively, and is free from spelling and grammatical errors can help prime the editor to view your submission positively before he or she even looks over your manuscript.

We hope our tips and Word template can help you create professional, complete cover letters in a time-effective way. Our specialist editors, translators, and writers are available to help create or revise the content to be error-free and, as part of our additional comprehensive Guidelines for Authors service, we can ensure the cover letter includes all of the statements required by the journal.

Lastly, just as a reminder for members of ThinkSCIENCE’s free annual rewards program, remember to claim your reward of free editing or translation of one cover letter alongside editing or translation of a full paper before the end of the March!

Composing a writing bio for a cover letter or query letter can be difficult, whether you're a new writer with no publication credits, a mid-level.

How to Write a Query Letter in 7 Steps

how to write a letter to an author

You may choose to write a formal letter to an author to express how much you liked a piece of literature that he wrote. Formal letters have a reserved and sincere tone. They do not have contractions, and they have a distinct message. Formal letters have three distinct formats such as the block format, the modified-block format, and the semi-block format. The difference between the formats has to do with indenting and spacing. When you understand the guidelines for formal letter writing, you will be able to successfully write such a letter to an author.

Know the parts of the formal letter. These parts consist of your address, the date, the inside address, the salutation, the body, and the closing. Use 12 font Times New Roman when you write your letter.

Determine whether you want to use the block format, the modified block format, or the semi-block format. The block format has every part of the letter justified to the left. The modified block format has your address and the date justified to the right, the inside address, salutation, and body justified to the left, and closing at the center. The semi-block format has your address and the date centered, the inside address, the salutation, and the body justified to the left, and the closing at the center. You may decide that you want to use the block format to seem more formal.

Decide what you plan to write in the formal letter. When writing to an author, you will want to display through your words that you understand his literature, and that there is a particular reason that such a book was significant to you. You may want to tell the author which book you liked, why you liked it, and which part of the book was your favorite. You can write these notes in the form of an outline.

Type in the basic components of the letter. Write your address. Then, skip a line, and write the date. Put the month first, then the day, and then the year. Skip another line, and write the inside address. The inside address is the address of the author.

Write the greeting. For a formal letter, the greeting needs to have a formal title. For example, if the author is Max Turner, then you would write, Dear Mr. Turner, followed by a colon. Then, skip a line.

Write the body of the letter. Authors usually receive an abundance of mail from people who read their work, so it is best to make your message concise. Make sure that you emphasize the main idea of your message. For example, your main idea may be that you liked the book, "The Lost Year of High School." You enjoyed reading the book because you could relate to the protagonist, Amber. Like her, you were shy and had difficulty making friends. Your favorite part of the book was when Amber became a member of the photography club and was able to develop enough courage to speak to Brandon.

Skip a line after writing the body, and then write the closing. For a formal letter, the proper closing is "Sincerely." After this word, you should put a comma, then skip another line, and write your name.

Proofread the letter by reading it aloud. Authors spend much of their time reading and writing. They are aware of errors in grammar, spelling and punctuation. Therefore, you will want to be absolutely sure that your letter does not have any errors to make the best impression.

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How to Write a Formal Letter to an Author

how to write a letter to an author

A starving writer stands in front of a mailbox, clutching a hefty brown envelope addressed to a publishing company. They say a prayer, push their manuscript in, and begin the long wait for a reply that could make or break their career. It's a romantic image, but most major publishers don't actually accept "unsolicited manuscripts" these days. If that writer were serious about being published, they’d first seek out an agent. And for that, they'd need a query letter.

With the help of our brand-new infographic, this post will show you how to write a query letter that gets results.

Note: a lot of research needs to happen before you start querying agents. This article will focus on the query letter itself, and specifically, queries for fiction. You can learn about queries for non-fiction submissions in this post and how to write a non-fiction book proposal right here.

Writing an Effective Query Letter

 A query letter is a note asking an agent if they’re interested in representing a book. Agents may receive a dozen or more queries a day — and might only sign four or five authors per year. So you can see how making a good first impression in your query is crucial. Now, there's no "standard" format that all authors use for their letters. However, a query is a business document and as such should look like a formal one-page business letter. Our one universal piece of advice about querying is to keep the letter short. Think 300 to 400 words at the very most. Many agents field queries using their phones, so think about how will your letter look on a small screen. Does it give the impression of being a huge wall of text, or a disjointed series of singles sentences? If so, revise to make it more concise, orderly, and organized.

Without further ado, here’s how to write a query letter in 7 steps.

Step 1: Capture the agent’s attention with your greeting

“Dear Ms. Tyler” That’s perfectly fine, assuming that the agent’s name is Tyler and she is, indeed, a woman. The following line should then make the agent prick up their ears. If you’ve published before, why not start with that? Also make sure to mention any critical recognition or awards you've received for your previous work.

I’m seeking representation for my novel, The Bedlam Stacks. This novel is the follow-up to The Watchmaker of Filigree Street, which was shortlisted for the Betty Trask Prize, and a finalist for the Locust First Novel Prize in 2016.

If you haven’t published before, another great way to start is with a personal connection.

We met at last year’s Writer’s Digest Annual Conference and chatted briefly about your work with up-and-coming romance authors.

Or, better yet, get a referral from an established author or a publishing insider.

Jane Doe at Del Rey Books suggested that I contact you regarding representation for my debut science fiction novel, Arbormancer.

Networking is crucial in publishing. “You want something that will bring the submission directly to the agent rather than an assistant or an intern,” says editor and former agent Fran Lebowitz. “Showing that you are connected never hurts.” If you have no connections to speak of, don’t panic; just jump straight into your pitch.

I’m writing to seek representation for my 92,500-word debut thriller, Operation Kill.

The title, genre, and word count: three key pieces of information are right there in your first sentence. With that out of the way, let’s really grab their attention!

Tip: Always mention your genre, word count and target audience in your query.

Step 2: Craft an irresistible hook

"Sell the book, don’t apologize for it, and know how to condense its true meaning to a couple of sentences.”  — Jonny Geller, CEO of Curtis Brown (John le Carré, David Mitchell, Susanna Clarke)

Within the first few pages of a novel, you need to make it impossible for readers to put your book down. In a query letter, you have to make do with just a few lines. This part of the letter is known as the hook. Your hook should show agents how your book is different from the thousands of others in your genre. It could be an awesome concept that makes the reader wonder why someone hasn’t thought of it before. Just look at the hook for Jeff Lindsay’s Darkly Dreaming Dexter:

Meet Dexter Morgan, a polite wolf in sheep’s clothing. He’s handsome and charming, but something in his past has made him abide by a different set of rules. He’s a serial killer whose one golden rule makes him immensely likable: he only kills bad people.

Another great hook might involve an intriguing central conflict, like the one in Stephenie Meyers’ Twilight:

About three things I was absolutely positive. First, Edward was a vampire. Second, there was a part of him — and I didn’t know how potent that part might be — that thirsted for my blood. And third, I was unconditionally and irrevocably in love with him.

Not only does this introduce the genre and tone (dark paranormal romance), it sets up the narrator’s dilemma: she knows she’s in love with a man who might kill her. What will happen next? Is she walking into a trap? Will her love conquer the vampire’s bloodlust? Perfecting your hook might take days — but it’s the most important part of your pitch, hands down.

Step 3: Write a tantalizing synopsis

Now that you’ve “hooked” the agent, it’s time to reel them in with your synopsis and get them to request your manuscript.

“The synopsis should serve to really get an agent interested in your book,” says Erin Young, a literary agent with Dystel, Goderich & Burret. “Think about this as if you're writing the back cover of your book for future readers.” This is your opportunity to shed some light on:

  • The plot
  • The primary characters
  • The central questions or conflicts that drive your story

Following Erin’s suggestion, let’s look at the back cover of Gillian Flynn’s Gone Girl and see how its blurb addresses those points.

On a warm summer morning in North Carthage, Missouri, it is Nick and Amy Dunne’s fifth wedding anniversary. Presents are being wrapped and reservations are being made when Nick’s clever and beautiful wife disappears. Husband-of-the-Year Nick isn’t doing himself any favors with cringe-worthy daydreams about the slope and shape of his wife’s head, but passages from Amy's diary reveal the alpha-girl perfectionist could have put anyone dangerously on edge. Under mounting pressure from the police and the media—as well as Amy’s fiercely doting parents—the town golden boy parades an endless series of lies, deceits, and inappropriate behavior. Nick is oddly evasive, and he’s definitely bitter—but is he really a killer?

With just over 100 words, this synopsis lays out the plot, offers an impression of two multi-layered characters, and leaves us with the question that serves as the book’s engine: Did Nick kill his wife? Without a grand mystery at the center of your book, you can still build up to a gripping cliffhanger by defining the central conflict and stakes. "High stakes" help your readers invest in your characters and stories; without them, we have no reason to care about the outcome of your book. So make sure the letter-reader knows what your protagonists stand to win or lose.

Tip: your hook and synopsis should make up around 50% of your letter. That’s 150 or 200 words at most.

And now that the hard part is over, let’s talk about you: the author.

Step 4: Reveal your credentials and your publishing savvy

Following the synopsis, you’ll need to push an agent over the edge with your bona fides as a writer. Unless it’s relevant to the book, don’t mention your day job or your hometown. It’s much better to focus on your publishing history:

  • Have you had any short stories published?
  • Have you won any writing awards or competitions?
  • Are you a graduate of a creative writing program?
  • Have you attended any writing conferences, workshops, or retreats?

If you don’t have any writing chops per se, it’s okay to say, “I live in Poughkeepsie with my wife and three kids. This is my first novel.” You can also mention your inspiration for writing this book, or mention why you’re the only person who can do this story justice: “I was inspired to write Bad Teacher by my decade of experience teaching in state prisons, in my home state of Missouri.” When in doubt, keep it simple! You should also show that you’re going to be an informed publishing partner with an awareness of the market. A great way to do that is by identifying comparable titles. That’s where you say that your book has “the supernatural feel of Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell with the dark feminist bent of Sarah Waters’ Fingersmith.” You want to make the agent think, “Ooh, I like those books! Maybe I’ll like this one as well.” However, avoid comparing your manuscript to:

  • Mega-successful books. You probably don’t have the next Harry Potter.
  • Mega-obscure books. They won’t be impressed, they'll just be bewildered.
  • Books that are too dissimilar.High Fidelity meets War and Peace” paints a weird picture.

If you’re a popular blogger or have a large social media following, bring it up! This lets agents know you come with a built-in fanbase. Again, show them that you’re approaching this like a professional and that you can help your book become a success.

Step 5: Personalize the letter for each agent

“You can tell when the letter’s just a generic copy and paste job,” says Amy Bishop, an agent with Dystel, Goderich & Bourret. “It indicates that the author hasn't done their research on the agent or agency they're querying.” Personalization is crucial: without it, your letter is just spam. The easiest way to give your query a personal touch is to reference the agent’s existing clients.

I am a huge fan of your client, Michael Chabon. The setting of The Yiddish Policemen’s Union was a major influence on my novel.

Or if you want to do one better, refer to something that the agent has written or said in public.

I saw your presentation at the Literary Writers Conference last year. Your comments on the dearth of female protagonists in fantasy fiction really resonated with me. My book is, in part, an attempt to redress that balance.

Don't lay it on too thick. Just show that you've put thought and effort into choosing which agents you query.

Step 6: Proofread everything you’ve written

Before you finish, go back through the letter and double-check that you’ve included the following details about your book:

  • Title
  • Genre
  • Audience
  • Word count
  • Comp titles

Get a friend to read the whole thing to make sure your spelling, grammar, and punctuation is all on point.

Step 7: Thank the agent and sign off

No muss, no fuss.

Thanks for your time and consideration. I look forward to hearing from you. Sincerely, Your Name

Don’t overdo the ending. Don’t try to arrange a meeting or tell them how amazing it would be to work together. Just thank them, and sign off. Now, we’ve just thrown a lot of information at you. If it seems like a lot to absorb, no need to worry: we’ve created an infographic checklist to help you remember it all.

Checklist: How to Write a Query Letter

Query Letter Examples

We've also come up with a few query letter examples for those who want a more concrete idea of what to write. Again, no two query letters are the same, but these examples should provide some helpful guidelines to set you on the right path. One sample pitches a historical romance, one pitches a science fiction novel, and one pitches a psychological thriller, so you can see how query letters for different genres might vary.

1. Romance query letter

Dear Ms. Montgomery,

I’m seeking representation for my 80,000-word historical romance novel, Fire and Silk: a steamy forbidden romance that unfolds against the thrilling backdrop of the American Revolution. This book is a sequel to my previous novel, Midnight Rose, which was shortlisted for the Katie Fforde Debut Romantic Novel Award last year.

The fiery half of Fire and Silk, blacksmith Joseph Ramsey, has never been interested in ladyfolk — nor does he have time to pursue them, working from dusk till dawn to fulfill his commissions and covertly supply the Continental Army with weapons. But when Joe meets Elizabeth Davis, a young woman who comes to him with an unusual request, he’s smitten by her striking looks and sparkling wit. So much so that he agrees to her request, free of charge.

The only problem is, Eliza has just gotten engaged — to a British officer, no less. But judging by what she wants from Joe, it’s not off to a very auspicious start. And as the connection between the blacksmith and the lady heats up like red-hot iron, Joe finds himself caught in the crossfire... in more ways the one.

Fans of Alyssa Cole and Hamilton lore are sure to find their fix in this tantalizing colonial-era romance. I have spent the past year of my life researching the Revolutionary War, on top of an MA in American History from Ashland University, so readers will not be disappointed by the historical rigor.

As for my writing credentials, in addition to being a finalist for that RWA award, I have published several short stories with HarperCollins’ Escape Publishing. I am also currently working on the next installment in my “Revolutionary Lovers” series, entitled A Touch of Fancy. This one, set in eighteenth century France, bears some thematic resemblance to the writings of your client Claudette Sauvageot, whom I absolutely adore.

Thank you very much for your consideration, Ms. Montgomery. I look forward to hearing from you.

Warm regards, Vivian Day

2. Science fiction query letter

Dear Mr. Osbourne,

I am writing to seek representation for my 120,000-word science fiction novel, Elysium Dying. It concerns a dystopian society in the not-so-distant future which has been ravaged not only by mass infertility, but also an alien invasion that threatens to wipe out all existing life. You might think of it as P.D. James’ Children of Men meets Orson Scott Card’s Speaker for the Dead.

The protagonist of Elysium Dying is sixteen-year-old Hazel Windrow, one of the youngest people alive since the Peruvian flu struck fifteen years ago, killing 50% of Earth’s population and leaving the rest infertile. Having more or less come to terms with their inevitable extinction, humanity now faces the double-whammy of it happening much sooner than anticipated — with the arrival of an alien colony determined to kill everyone in sight.

In all the chaos, only Hazel (herself a devotee of classic science fiction) sees the connection between the disease and the invasion, and knows that the aliens are not as malevolent as they seem. But with power lines down, she has no way of communicating her theory to the higher-ups… and no reason to think they’d believe her, anyway. So she sets off for Washington, D.C. — not to confront the government, but the aliens themselves, who have taken over the Pentagon and the White House.

Elysium Dying is my first full-length novel, but I do have an MFA from Temple University, where I studied under the tutelage of Nebula Award-winner Samuel Delany. I have also won several short fiction contests hosted by the SFWA, and recently compiled those works into an anthology entitled The Fall of Dawn, which I self-published under the pseudonym Jocelyn Rice.

Mr. Osbourne, I understand you represent many up-and-coming young sci-fi writers, such as Russell Fleming and Mina Morrell, and I would be thrilled to count myself among their ranks. Fleming's The Blue Abyss has been of particular inspiration to me, as you may be able to tell from reading my manuscript.

In any case, I look forward to your reply, and thank you for your time and consideration today.

Sincerely, Samantha Jackson

3. Thriller query letter

Dear Ms. Brooks,

I wish to seek representation for my debut novel, a 100,000-word psychological thriller called The Woman in the Black Saloon. It’s about a small town in Texas that’s turned upside down by a twisted, Western-inspired murder. Diana Preston from Chicory Books mentioned to me that you’ve represented similar titles in the past, so I’m hoping it might pique your interest!

The Woman in the Black Saloon begins with a terrible death: a cattle rancher strangled by his own lasso. But when the forensics come back clean, the police have no leads whatsoever. Flash forward to one year later, and the strange murder not only remains unsolved, but the bad publicity surrounding it has destroyed the town’s tourist economy.

Enter Jesse Foster, proprietor and sole remaining bartender at the Lone Star Saloon. Once a thriving local business and tourist attraction, Lone Star has dried up with the rest of the town — and Jesse is sick and tired of waiting for things to get better. Taking matters into his own hands, he soon discovers what the police have been hiding from the public, and realizes that he himself may hold the key to this terrifying case: a faint memory of a mysterious woman in his bar, just hours before that rancher was brutally throttled.

This story has all the dark small-town secrets of a Gillian Flynn novel with a distinctive southwestern spin. It should appeal widely to fans of all kinds of suspense, from classic murder mystery to contemporary thriller. I’ve also already started promoting it to my own fans — I run a true crime blog called “Crime Time with Detective Jay” that gets about 500 unique viewers a month. This novel was actually inspired by a case I wrote about on the blog (though I won’t say which one).

Finally, I’d just like to say that I’m a great admirer of your client Genevieve Moore’s Gun in the Grave series. Before researching you, I hadn’t known who represented her, but trust me that she’s been a huge influence on my own work. Please give her my highest compliments, if you would. And thank you very much for your consideration.

My very best, Jeremy Baker

PS — all these (sadly imaginary) titles came from our awesome book title generator! Check it out if you still need a title, or if you're just curious to see what comes up.

Get a Professional Query Letter Review

Of course, the road to drafting the perfect query letter can turn out to be a minefield — seemingly innocuous sentences can send up red flags in the eyes of an agent. So how can you guarantee that your letter fires on all cylinders?

By getting a query letter review from a Reedsy professional. Many of the editors on our network have been acquisition editors and literary agents at some point in their careers. Their expertise and understanding of what agents look for can make a huge difference when you’re trying to stand out from the pack.

Reedsy professionals tend to charge between $50 and $150 for this service: not a lot, considering how much time you’ve already spent getting your manuscript to this stage.

These few hundred words can determine your writing career. There’s probably an agent out there who'd be thrilled to work with you — but that won’t happen unless you convince them to take a chance on your book.


If you have any questions, thoughts, or comments on writing query letters, drop us a message on the comments below.

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Working on getting your novel published? These examples of successful query letters can't fail to help your chances!.

A Fill-In-The-Blank Fan Letter to Your Favorite Author

how to write a letter to an author

In a previous blog post, I looked at novel synopsis examples for literary agents. A wonderfully terrifying task if there ever was one. There are plenty of great samples out there, and hopefully the post helps shed some light on what you should and shouldn’t be doing.

But, in order to get an agent to even read your synopsis, you must first also learn how to write a query letter. As with the synopsis post, it seems like finding some query letter examples is going to be the most effective method of acquiring your own success.

As a good query letter is essentially step one on your journey to getting your novel published, where better to take inspiration than from those who have already seen publishing success? If you want an agent to even entertain the idea of selling your book to a publisher, you need to sell it to them first. Before they’ll even glance at your synopsis or example chapters, potentially leading to the release of one of the best new fantasy books of 2019, or one of the greatest historical fictions ever written, they need to get past that initial query.

Query letter examples are your perfect learning tool. When you want to learn how to write a query letter, where else better to look?

To that end I have put together this blog: a resource of query letter examples that can help you work out what you should be putting into your covering email.

If it worked for others, it can work for you.

The World of Reddit

Reddit is a weird and wonderful place. It can be full of the greatest dregs of the internet, yet it can also be packed with stories of hope and inspiration.

This particular Reddit thread asked successful authors to post the query letter examples that secured them their agent or publisher, and the responses don’t disappoint. There are numerous examples of well-written and successful queries within the post, featuring all types of genres. It’s a great place to go to see a wealth of query letter examples all in one handy locale and really can help you learn how to write a query letter.

Ed McDonald's Blackwing Query Letter

I am a big fan of Blackwing by Ed McDonald, which all came from discovering perhaps one of the best query letter examples online.. He sold it to his agent, and he sold it to me, too. That is exactly how to write a query letter. It needs to sell, sell, sell. Your book might be your baby, your work of art, but to an agent it’s a commercial entity with money written all over it.

Blackwing, the first the Raven’s Mark series, was a critical success. Popular among fantasy fans, the sequel has already been released with more on the way. Without that initial cover letter, none of that would have been possible. Read over the query letter example Ed McDonald has shared, and discover exactly how he got the ball rolling on his successful writing career.

WATCH THE VIDEO ON THEME: My Secret Book Writing Formula [Free Template] - Brian Tracy

When I wrote my article on Writing a Synopsis, I mentioned that it was one of the most challenging tasks for authors. The cover letter (otherwise.

how to write a letter to an author
Written by Yozshutilar
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