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Query Tips from a Publisher

Here at Common Deer Press we value uncommon stories, which is why we have put together this list of query tips from a publisher to help you polish your query submissions. Remember that your queries, whether they be to us or another publisher, should always be professional and the best representation of you and your talents.

Papers, a phone, and a mug of coffee on a desk with text "Query Tips from a Publisher"

Query Tips from a Publisher

Before Querying

  1. Research query templates and submission guidelines so you know how to format your query properly

  2. Research the editor/agent/publisher’s catalogue to ensure your story will be a good fit

  3. You can find agents, editors and publishers through various web sources. Query Tracker, agent lists, editor lists, publisher lists and professional associations are great places to start to build a personal database of to whom to query

  4. Research comparable titles and market trends

  5. Becoming a member in a writing association can give you access to meetings, webinars, and newsletters where you can stay informed about publishing news for your specific genre.

  6. Subscribing to publishing trade magazines like Publishers Weekly or Quill & Quire can also be helpful for tracking trends

  7. Ensure your story is unique (don't reinvent Harry Potter or The Cat In The Hat)

Writing Your Query

  1. Write a strong book hook for your manuscript

  2. Get straight to the point and be concise with your query

  3. Use third-person when referring to yourself

  4. Include comparable titles (books similar to your genre and style)

  5. Communicate why you are the person to write this story (include awards, nominations, experience relevant to the query or publishing in general)

  6. Mention articles and trends which fit with your manuscript

  7. Customize your query letter to editor/agent/publisher

  8. Include WHY you chose that particular editor/agent/publisher to submit this particular query

  9. Use the same font for all your documents (no "cute" fonts please)

  10. Send the first 10 pages (not the best 10 pages)

  11. Proofread everything you send

Sending Your Query

  1. Send queries via the query email address provided unless otherwise specified on the agent’s or publisher’s website

  2. Follow submission guidelines

  3. Send one query at a time to agent/editor/publisher

  4. Send everything in one document (manuscript, marketing materials, biography) unless otherwise specified

  5. Don't submit something you have already self-published or has been previously published in any form (including websites and blogs)

  6. Refrain from sending chocolates or gifts to editor/agent/publisher (that’s weird)

  7. Don't constantly follow-up for an answer (you want to be memorable not annoying)

  8. Track your queries so you know where and when you have sent submissions

  9. Do not re-submit the same query to the same editor/agent/publisher if they have already rejected it

You can also try out-of-the-box querying on social media. On Twitter there are days which feature #PitMad, #PitchWars, #Query where you use up to 280 characters to pitch completed, polished, unpublished manuscripts. These events happen on certain days and have specific rules so be sure to Google the hashtags so you fully understand how Twitter pitches work.

Finally, remember that going through the process of writing a query letter, book hook, and comparable titles list may also help you polish your manuscript. If you have trouble preparing your materials for submission, you may need to work on your manuscript some more to refine your work and make sure you’re querying the best possible version of your story.

If you are interested in query tips from a publisher, you might also be interested in 39 Tips for Writing Children's Books (KidLit).

Follow for more children’s publishing tips!

Facebook: @commondeerpress

Instagram: commondeer_press


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