This article discusses how to write a query letter for a short story collection—a follow-up to a previous post, entitled How To Publish A Short Story Collection: Tips For Getting Agents’ And Editors’ Attention For Your Short Stories. In it we discussed strategies for tackling the obstacles that can make it difficult to publish a short story collection, and we offered some solutions. Keep reading to find out:
How To Write A Strong Query Letter To Pitch A Short Story Collection
Research the market carefully and target only agents or publishers who actually work with short story collections. Then, research their submission guidelines and follow them exactly. Include your very best work—a professionally formatted and carefully edited group of stories, especially those that have been published. If you have any positive reviews for published pieces, include those as well.
In your query letter make it clear that you are submitting a collection of short stories, and include their genre (science fiction) or common theme (sports). Use vivid, powerful writing to capture the editor’s attention in the first paragraph and get them excited about your work. You may also describe a few of your most interesting stories in this section. If you have a personal tie-in with the agent or editor, this is the place to mention it.
In the next section (your professional writing bio), highlight your credentials—education, writers’ residencies, awards, and publication credits—and downplay the negatives. Do not reference past rejections or refer to yourself as an “amateur” or “weekend” writer. Never tell the editor that your stories still need some work.
In closing your query letter, be sure to thank the editor or agent for his or her time and offer to send sample stories (if attachments are not welcomed) or the complete collection. Proofread your query carefully, run it by someone you trust, and don’t forget the self-addressed stamped envelope if querying by regular mail.
• One single-spaced page is sufficient. Use one-inch margins all around, and adjust if necessary to keep it to one page.
• Use standard (8½ x 11 in U.S.) letterhead. Avoid overly colorful stationery and hard-to-read fonts.
• Include your current contact information and a word count of the entire collection.
• Address the query to the appropriate agent or editor (with the correct spelling, of course).
• Use formal salutations, and use the editor or agent’s full name.
For more information about how to write a query letter, please begin with How To Write Cover and Query Letters That Get Attention. At Writer’s Relief our submission strategists compose professional cover and query letters on behalf of our Full Service and A La Carte PLUS clients. Contact us today (firstname.lastname@example.org) for more information.
Photo by Ed Yourdon