As we’ve already said, the query is the “cover” of your proposal. Generally under 500 words in length, the query may be the hardest part of the proposal to write simply because it has to accomplish so much in a little space.
The first step in writing a good query is … to do your homework. Once you know what you want to write about, and why you’re the right person to write it, you can’t just start mailing out queries, willy-nilly, and hope that someone will grab it up!
Think about that bookstore shelf. Why are certain books put in the “religion” section, while other books are put in the “cooking” section? (And what do you do if you write a Holy Land Cookbook?) Finding the right publisher, who is able to reach the market for which your book is intended, is vital. If you haven’t already seen it, check out Jeff Young’s Around the Table with Catholic Foodie: Middle Eastern Cuisine to see how it is possible to combine faith and culinary arts — he did it by identifying a Catholic publisher who had already published a cookbook successfully.
For specifics on how to write a query, check out my previous post here. For the purposes of this post, remember that the most crucial ideas to convey in that brief span of time are …
* Spine: Working title/subtitle (should hook the intended reader and draw them in)
* Front Cover: Elevator pitch: 150-200 words that conveys the purpose and uniqueness of the book, as well as why you are the right author (and they are the right publisher).
* Back Cover: Author bio/endorsements: Conveys who you are, who you are able to reach, and why YOU are the right person to address this subject. The market study will have the details on your market platform . . . but this captures the highlights.
Just remember … Keep It Personal! (And don’t forget to spell the editor’s name correctly.)