Get Your Query Right

Dragon Moon Press, which has published the novels of several podcast authors, is opening its doors to unsolicited submissions again during the month of November. Gabrielle Harbowy, associate publisher for DMP and the person about to be deluged with queries from hopeful writers, has offered a helpful list of tips for how to write the queries.

I’ve written so many queries and studied so many examples of effective query letters that it surprises me anyone would need reminding of some of these things (don’t send attachments if the submission guidelines say “NO ATTACHMENTS”), but it’s easy to imagine some of these things getting overlooked. If you’ve written anything from a fifth grade school book report on up, you’ve probably accidentally used the wrong word at some point, so yes, it is important to say that your novel is 85,000 words, not 85,000 pages. Equally important in my view is #6 on her list, which emphasizes professionalism. I love a good sense of humor as much as the next person, but the place to be funny is in the text of your novel (if it’s a humorous book,) not in your query. You may be kidding when you say in your query, “Accept my novel or I will hunt you down and steal your young,” but it may not come off that way to the reader. At best, it will make you look silly; at worst, it will make you look like someone the editor will not want to go near.

I especially like the last five items. You’re presenting yourself as a professional writer, so spell- and grammar-check your query, for crying out loud. Quadruple-check your submission for typos. Let everything sit for a day, then check again. Finally, when it’s all ready to go, send it out and try to relax; meditate, do yoga, go for a long run, whatever it takes. You’ve given it your best shot; if the editor doesn’t accept it, move on to the next market.

I don’t have anything to submit to Dragon Moon this year that they haven’t already passed on, so I won’t be participating in the query rush. I wish the best of luck to those of you who will be. Dragon Moon has published some excellent titles over the years. If they accept yours, take that as very high praise.

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2 Responses to Get Your Query Right

  1. Draven Ames says:

    You have some good advice. I’d like your blog more if you broke up the paragraphs. I’ve heard it is best to lay your query to the side for a month, and then come back to check it. Personally, I like that advice more. The more time you take on your book and query, the better.

    If we dream of riches and fame, we have to be willing to put forth a product worth it.

  2. tdodge says:

    Draven,

    Yikes! I just looked over this post and I see what you mean about breaking up the paragraphs. Not sure how I let that happen. I’m going to edit this to make it easier on the eyes. Thanks for letting me know.

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