Tuesday, September 16, 2008


EDITOR's NOTE: I asked Camy to stop by and giving us a quick lesson on query writing. She's an expert on manuscript submission and I highly recommend you take her synopsis workshop or any workshop she offers. She knows her stuff and she's excellent writer.

How to write a query letter

A query letter has five major parts:

1) Header. The editor’s address, your address, your email and phone number (optional), and the salutation. Make sure you use the editor’s name, not Sir or Madam or To whom it may concern.

Susan B. Anthony
Editor, Top Publishing House
P.O. Box 1234
New York, NY, 12345

Camy Tang
P.O. Box 23143
San Jose, CA 95153-3143

Dear Ms. Anthony,

2) The details about your story. Make sure you include:

1. Title
2. Genre
3. How many words
4. If it’s completed (and it ought to be completed before you query an agent or an editor
5. Anything interesting or salient about the story. Maybe the unusual setting or some takeaway value.

Dear Ms. Anthony,

“Single Sashimi” is a completed chick lit romance novel of 80,000 words set in the high-tech Silicon Valley of Northern California. It explores the issues of body image, success versus happiness, and trusting in God.

3) Your story blurb. Keep it short, two paragraphs at most. Think back cover blurb. Make sure you mention all the main characters, what each of them want, and the antagonist or the major obstacle(s) in their way.

Video game programmer Venus Chau is determined to start her own game development company and launch the next Super Mario-sized phenomenon. However, she needs an investor to back her idea. When Drake Yu, an old nemesis, approaches Venus with a contracting opportunity at his sister’s startup, the offer to become Chief Operating Officer tempts Venus to think the unthinkable.

Venus would rather throw away her PS3 than work for Drake again … except Grandma bribes Venus to do this favor for Drake’s wealthy family with a coveted introduction to the most respected investor in the game industry. But one wild youth group, a two-faced assistant, and Grandma’s determined match-making threaten to make them both fail—or go insane. But Venus discovers that even a wounded heart can undergo a beautiful transformation …

4) Your credentials. Keep this short, just one paragraph. Include any salient points that explain why you’re the best person to write this particular story. Include major writing organizations you belong to and a few awards, but only if they pertain to your writing or to a topic covered in your story.

In the example below, I list:
1) my writing organization
2) a writing award
3) why I’m suitable to write a story about an Asian American heroine
4) why I’m suitable to write a story about game development

I am a member of the American Christian Fiction Writers and won first place in the Noble Theme writing contest for unpublished writers. I am a fourth generation Asian American and immersed in the Northern California Silicon Valley, home of many top game development companies.

5) End it politely and succinctly.

Thank you for your time and consideration. I would be happy to send a proposal of this manuscript.

Camy Tang

Thanks for having me here, LaShaunda!

Camy Tang writes romance with a kick of wasabi. She used to be a biologist, but now she is a staff worker for her church youth group and leads a worship team for Sunday service. She also runs the Story Sensei fiction critique service. On her blog, she gives away Christian novels every Monday and Thursday, and she ponders frivolous things like dumb dogs (namely, hers), coffee-geek husbands (no resemblance to her own...), the writing journey, Asiana, and anything else that comes to mind. Visit her website at http://www.camytang.com/ for a huge website contest going on right now, giving away ten boxes of books and 30 copies of her latest release, SINGLE SASHIMI.


Camy Tang said...

Thanks for letting me guest blog, LaShaunda!

PatriciaW said...

Now that's a query letter writing workshop, Camy style!

A definite bookmark.

Missy Tippens said...

Great post, Camy. Thanks for the helpful info. I'm glad to see that I've been doing it pretty much the same! Now I won't worry so much when I send one. :)


Jennifer C. said...

After reading this I realize writing a query is not as terrible as I thought.

Great advice Camy.

Tracee said...

Great info - thanks for sharing!

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