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January 26, 2022

How to Write a Great Query Letter to a Publisher

You’ve completed your manuscript and now it’s ready to be sent out, but don't move too fast! While some independent presses may accept unsolicited manuscripts from authors directly, other presses require an agent to represent your manuscript. The best way to reach out to an agent or publisher is by sending a query letter that leads the recipient to ask for your manuscript. 

How to Find the Right Agent or Publisher

A well-written query letter is of no use if it is not sent to the right people. And finding the right people requires some research. While writing your book you should have a collection of books that are similar to yours, such as in genre or subject matter. These are the books that would sit next to yours in a bookstore. These books will help you find the agents and publishers best suited for your manuscript. An author’s Acknowledgements page - usually in the back of the book - will provide you the name of their agent, editor, and publisher. 

You can also look through trade newsletters and journals to find contact names and to keep on top of which publishers and editors are responsible for which genres and imprints. These newsletters will also give you a good idea of the trends in publishing houses. Check out sources such as Shelf Awareness (worldwide), The Bookseller (UK), Publishers Weekly (US), Books + Publishing (ANZ), Buzz Words (Australia, kids books), The Sapling (NZ, kids books).

Seven Keys to a Great Query Letter:

(1) Start by noting how you found the agent or publisher (such as in a publishing trade newsletter). This shows you are tuned into the publishing world. 

(2) Briefly explain your project and how far along you are with it. This shows this is still an ongoing project that the publisher/agent can still influence and be part of, rather than simply processing a finished work. This makes it more likely that they will believe the book could be molded to suit the company’s needs. 

(3) Mention one of their past projects that is similar to yours. If you have illustrations to offer (such as with a children’s book), be sure to state that. 

(4) Ask if you can send the manuscript. You have chosen them and their publishing house. It might be advantageous for them to secure a proposal that another publishing house might otherwise want. 

(5) Demonstrate that you have selected them and their publishing house carefully, as they are the best fit for your manuscript.

(6) Mention or link the social media you are active in and have a large following. This assures the publisher that you are marketable. 

(7) Link your website with your writing portfolio or your best published writing. This assures the publisher you can write. 

Ensure everything - including people’s names - are spelled correctly. Wait to hear back and if you don’t hear back in three months, move on to the next person. 

How to Pitch to Exisle Publishing and EK Books

Exisle Publishing and EK Books accept submissions directly from writers from all over the world. While our acceptance rate is not high—we always receive many thousands more books than we can publish—the advice in this article will definitely help up your chances. Like many other traditional publishers, we provide detailed guidance for authors on the types of information, files and formats we accept, adhering to this guidance will also improve your chances! And finally, while it is not necessary to be an Exisle Academy student to pitch to our imprints, we do give priority consideration to those who enrol in our courses.

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Valentine Sargent
Free Guide: Write a Pitch For Your Book That Publishers Will Love >>
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