Wednesday, August 7, 2013

How to Email Query By Roni Adams

*originally publishing on the Wild Rose Press website

How to Email Query By Roni Adams

In this age of email and instant access to editors and agents, should your email query letter be as formal as one sent through postal mail?

Of course it should. Even though email is a more informal means of communication, your first representation of yourself and your work should always be completely professional. A query letter doesn't have to follow the same format as a written letter, like we learned in high school business class. You don't need to provide an inside address, a proscribed number of spaces, the date and a formal salutation and closing, but the letter should contain formal attributes.

Email Address should reflect you as a serious writer

To back up one step, one of the most important things in an email query should be your own email address. Is it professional? Does it reflect your writing career, such as or is it something like Which one sounds like a serious writer working towards publication? An email address should be an extension and should include your pen name, if you have one. Another thing my email demonstrates is that I have a web site where they can go to discover more about me.

Do you need a web site? That's another whole discussion, but if you have one, you should definitely advertise the fact by using that email when querying or in any correspondence with editors or agents. If you don't have one, you do need to get an email that's professional. Either with your given name or your pen name.

Okay, so now you have a professional email address. Do you have the name of the editor you are querying? If you do, then you should certainly address that person by name in the email the same as in a regular letter:

Dear Ms. Jones.

If you don't know the editor's name or you are querying a general email submission box such as then no salutation is needed. For some, the greeting, "Dear Editor" is too generic. Choose to start your query like: "After reading your submission guidelines, I would like to submit the following to your erotic romance line." Then a space or two and then the next line: "My story is about two actors caught in a timewarp on an old west stage. The two loves wind up in a series of…" You get the idea. Make your query only a few paragraphs, hit the highlights of your story the same as you would in a printed query letter.

In the final paragraph say something to the effect of, "I have included my synopsis following this query letter. I look forward to hearing from you soon." Close the note with a formal signature and your contact information, including snail mail address. I always add my phone number. The last thing you want is an editor who would like to request your story but can't find you.

The Synopsis

After your contact info, make three *** to indicate a break between the query and the synopsis. Start with the title of your book, the page or word length, and then, if appropriate, which line in the publishing house you are targeting. For example:

Roni Adams
"To Love and Lose"
55K words
Champagne Rose Line

No attachments, unless requested

One of the most important things when emailing an editor is to never, never, never attach anything unless you have been invited to do so. In this day of virus and SPAMS, editors have been instructed by their IT departments to never open attachments they aren't familiar with and to delete them without reading.

Brief Synopsis

Keep your synopsis brief. Make it appeal to the editor and generate interest. Your goal is the same as it is in a snail mail query; you want that editor to respond positively and ask for more.

Once you have that editor's email, you may be tempted to simply shoot them a note and ask them if they received your query. Editors are very busy people. They receive hundreds of emails weekly, sometimes daily. Most will send an email verifying receipt of your query and will be in touch after their review. Sending your email with the "return receipt" button turned on is generally acceptable.

When to Inquire

So you know your query was received and several weeks have passed. How long do you wait before contacting the editor and asking for a status update? The worst thing you can do is email an editor a week after you've sent your submission. Just because email is instant and quick doesn't mean the reading or reviewing of email is any faster than reading a printed letter. Give the editor time to do his/her job.

How to Inquire

So how long do you wait? The same as you would a snail mail submission. First refer to the publisher's submission guidelines. Is a timeframe stated? Some houses request no additional contact for at least six months, etc. If no details are given, use the guideline of three months. Again, be professional. Do not become a pest to this editor and be tagged as such. Your follow-up should be short and to the point. Something along the line of:

"On February 1, 2007 I emailed a submission for my story, "On Bended Knee." I am following up to see if I can provide additional information on this story. I am still very interested in your opinion of this time travel western, and I look forward to hearing from you at your convenience."

That's it. Again, give your contact info, etc. Remember, the fact email is friendly and informal doesn't mean you have that type of relationship with this editor. Even if you've met at a conference, had lunch or exchange greetings in the ladies room, do not assume they will remember you. Keep things professional, and you will begin what is hopefully a healthy business relationship on the right foot.


Reprinted with permission from

No comments: