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Updated on July 28, 2011

You're Ready to Publish

So you're ready to publish your writing at last. To help you along I am providing the purpose of a query letter, a sample query letter, agent and editor contact information and the difference between self-publishing or going with a small, medium or large publishing company.

The Query Letter

The query letter is the introduction to your writing and is sent to either an agent or an editor. This writings intent is to get the attention of either an agent or editor whose purpose is to accept and promote your work with the ultimate goal of it becoming your published treasure. The letter should be one page and offer an introductory to you and to your specific writing.

The first paragraph should contain information such as the book title and the number of pages. If the book is not yet complete, write the target date and an estimate of how many pages are expected.

The second paragraph needs to summarize your book. The summary should contain what the book is about, the theme of the book, and what makes your characters and their conflict or drama interesting, the pizazz as I call it.

The third paragraph is all about you and your writing experience(s), whether you have any prior publishing history, and what drove you to write this particular writing.

The closing paragraph should be a sincere thank you and your expression for a timely response.

Keep the letter professional and make certain there are no punctuation, context or spelling errors.

Sample Query Letter of Completed Book

Your name
Your address
Your phone number
Your email address


Editor or Agent name
Business Name

Dear Mr. Agent,

Hello. My name is Selma Hawley. I’m looking for an agent to represent my
book, Charisma Girl. It is a 84,000-word paranormal chick-lit that would
be the first in a series of books.

Charisma Girl tells the story of Carmelita Cona, an investigative reporter who
catches her fiancé and best friend cheating on her on her wedding day. Even
worse, she discovers that they moonlight as her town’s resident, comic-book-
type superhero and ubervillain. Scorned, Carmelita exposes the pair’s
secret identities to the whole town and discovers that she has a knack for
unmasking heroes and villains. Carmelita travels from town to town, newspaper
to newspaper doing just that until one of the heroes she exposes commits
suicide. Carmelita quits her exposing ways, but she’s forced back into the game
by the Tribal Trinity, a group of ubervillains who want her to expose the real
identities of their archenemies, the Brazen Five. Epic battles, daring escapes,
and elaborate schemes persist, along with some romance with a suave
superhero named Blaze.

I am an award-winning features writer and page designer for my hometown
newspaper. I have a bachelor’s degree in English and journalism, and a master’s
degree in professional communications. I won third place in the Harlequin
Upside “Write Your Heart Out” contest in 2007, and I am a member of
Romance Writers of America.

I’ve enclosed a brief synopsis and the first three chapters of Charisma Girl. I
would be happy to send you the full manuscript if requested. Please contact me if you need more information. I look forward to hearing from you at your earliest convenience. Thank you for your time.

Selma Hawley



Do you need a literary agent to sell your book?

No, in most cases if you're selling a non-fiction book. Yes, in most cases if your book is fiction.
Most of the big publishers work directly with new writers who have written non-fiction books.

if your book is fiction, you'll find that most publishers like to receive new material through agents

Listed is a random sampling of agent names and their affiliation. It is easy to find their complete contact information via an online search. Once ready, you should do a search according to genre of your writing. Beware of course and check on the validity of each representation.

  • Jessica Alvarez, BookEnds, LLC
  • Claudia Cross, Sterling Lord Literistic, Inc.
  • Jennifer Didik, Loretta Barrett Books, Inc.
  • Stephany Evans, FinePrint Literary Management
  • Anne Hawkins, John Hawkins & Associates, Inc.
  • Christina Hogrebe, Jane Rotrosen Agency
  • Miriam Kriss, Irene Goodman Literary Agency
  • Denise Little, The Ethan Ellenberg Literary Agency
  • Kevan Lyon, Marsal Lyon Literary Agency
  • Beth Miller, Writers House
  • Lauren Ruth, BookEnds, LLC
  • Susannah Taylor, Richard Henshaw Group
  • Carlie Webber, Jane Rotrosen Agency


  • Lia Brown, Avalon Books
  • Karen Chaplin, HarperCollins Publishers
  • Kelli Collins, Ellora’s Cave
  • Wendy McCurdy, Berkley Books
  • Lauren Plude, Grand Central Publishing
  • Aubrey Poole, Sourcebooks
  • Latoya Smith, Grand Central Publishing
  • Mary-Theresa Hussey, Harlequin Books


Self publishing has always been a small fraction of the publishing industry. Today's advances in publishing technology have allowed that percentage to grow. New offerings such as desktop publishing, Print On Demand publishing, and the development of xerographic printing have all contributed to the industry in a way that makes self publishing your book more promising. It isn't just new, unrecognized authors that self publish either. There is a list of bestselling self published titles available which include The Celestine Prophecy and Chicken Soup for the Soul.

Advantages to self publishing your book is you have complete control and freedom. You can design every feature of your book, from the typeface to the cover art. You are in charge of the marketing and distribution of the book. Remember, you get to keep all the profits! The disadvantage of self publishing your book is, while all the paychecks are yours, all the bills are also yours. As a self publisher, you are solely responsible to make sure your book flourishes. Anything you don't know about publishing, you need to quickly learn. The outcome of your book and your writing career depends on it.

Small, Medium or Large Publisher

Should I go with a large, medium or small publisher?

This is a personal decision left to you. My preference is with a medium to large
publisher. The small publisher may give you more personal service and attention but it's distribution and numbers that are going to be your main concern. Many small publishers are unable to get your books widely distributed. You may get great service with a small publisher and sell 5000 copies, or you may get completely ignored with a large publisher and sell tens of thousands of copies. I choose to write with the intention of having my books read by as many people as possible, so I aim for the bigger publishers with big distribution.

Publishing is a tedious process, yet once you decide on what route is best for you, well worth the time. Persevere and believe!! Remember, your goal is to publish. Like you, I am learning along the way and am versatile to different options and choose the best option to meet my publishing needs. Best of luck to you in this exciting endeavor!


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