Tips On Sending Query Letters

By Makayla Smith

Writing and sending a query letter after you’ve finished your book can be almost as daunting of a task as finishing your book was, especially if you don’t know what to put in your query.

We know you want to make your book stand out, and the best way to do that from the start is through a stellar query letter. There’s no need to panic if you don’t know how to do that just yet. The key to most great queries is making sure they contain what the publisher wants.

GenZ provides a convenient submissions link on our website that tells you everything you need to provide in your query letter, e.g. a book synopsis, sample chapters, and basic author information. Actually accessing submission guidelines and taking them into account–a process often overlooked by aspiring authors–shows us that you’re serious about publication.

Our submission page provides a lot of helpful advice, but here are some tips for what makes the best query letters:

  1. Make sure your call to action is at the forefront of your submission. Tell us why your book matters, why we should read it.
    • Of course we want a full summary of your manuscript, but if you start off with a great hook and get to the crux of the novel, our interest gets piqued sooner, and when we start to read that plot, we’ll understand its importance.
    • Your hook also adds some personality to your query (see below).
  2. Double check your grammar.
    • Like any piece of writing, the better the mechanics, the more credibility the author gets as a writer. You wouldn’t send in a resume littered with typos, and the same should go for your query letter.
    • This is your chance to make a great first impression, so use it wisely.
  3. Show some personality.
    • This isn’t an essay for class. While it’s important to maintain a level of professionalism, this is also a marketing arena for your creative work. Let your quirky writing style shine through in your query letter so that before we even start reading your sample chapters we have a feel for the style of your book (that’s a lot more enjoyable to read than the cookie-cutter letter templates we’ve come to know).
  4. Address your email to Morissa Schwartz.
    • She’s the founder of GenZ, and all of the queries we receive go directly through her.
    • Addressing your query to a real person instead of a company makes it feel more personalized and shows us you’ve invested the time to do your research and you care about where your book is published.
  5. Tell us about yourself, your fans, and your social media.
    • Marketing is a key part of publishing your book, and we want it to succeed, but we also want to know what you can do to help promote your own book and show us that you’re dedicated. We’re not going to reject you if you don’t have a massive online following waiting with baited breath for the release of your new novel, but an online presence can be beneficial.
  6. Brag a little.
    • If you’ve won an award or been published in reputable publications, let us know.  
    • But, if, say, you’ve only gotten recognition from your brother’s podcast, maybe don’t include that in the query. Sometimes adding more information doesn’t actually help.

 You’ve already done the hard part, writing your book. We don’t want you to stress too much about query letters, so implement these tips to create a query letter that stands out. They will allow you to replace your fear and anxiety with excitement, and I’m sure you’ll get more publisher responses (see some examples of good query letters here)! 

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