A Guide To Writing Email Query Letters

Jerry WalchStarred Page By Jerry Walch, 21st Nov 2010 | Follow this author | RSS Feed | Short URL http://nut.bz/19ktkq9p/
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Most editors today prefer to receive query letters as emails. You can find their email addresses in their publication's listing in “The Writer's Market” guide published by Writer's Digest Books. Email queries must be crafted as carefully as their snail-mail predecessors. Here is how to craft an assignment getting email query.

Introduction to writing an email query letter

The same considerations that went into writing a successful snail-mail query letter goes into writing a successful email query. If you have not already read my article How To Write An Effective Query Letter, you should read it now because I will not be repeating what I wrote in that article, and it contains essential information. How To Write An Effective Query Letter contains information that you will need to know in order to get the maximum benefit from this article.

Does the editor or publication accept queries by email?

Most, but not all, editors and publications accept queries by email today. Just because, there is an email address listed in the publications guidelines published in the Writer's Market, does not mean that they accept email queries. Those editors and publications that accept or prefer email queries will state that in no uncertain terms. Call the publication and ask If you have any questions about whether email queries are acceptable by the editor or publication. Every listing in the Writer's Market has at least one telephone number in the listing. Be courteous to “The Gatekeeper” that takes your call because she will become you most prized asset at that publication. She will never put you through to the editor because she has orders not to, but she will provide you with his or her email address and tell you whether he or she accepts email query letters.

Never send an e-query to a general or catch-all address.

Every email query must go to the appropriate editor. If you cannot get the email address for the editor that you need to send your query to from the publication's listing in the Writer's Market or from calling the publication, do not email it. Send the query by snail-mail to the snail-mail address to the attention of the editor that you want it to reach.

Do not use email shorthand.

An email query is no different from a snail-mail query letter it is your marketing piece. The editor who receives it will judge you and your command of the English language by it. It is a business communication. Use proper grammar. Sacrifice speed for quality. Do not type a lowercase “i” as you might in a personal email, text message or blog comment, when proper grammar calls for the uppercase “I”.

How to handle email attachments.

Should you send attachments with an e-query? The answer to that question is simple—No-- not unless you are instructed to use attachments. Email attachments are the chief medium for transmitting viruses. The savvy computer user does not open an attachment from someone unknown to them or an unfamiliar business. Most businesses and that include publishers instruct their employees to delete attachments before they reach the desktop.

The subject line is the key to an e-query.

The subject line is the first thing the editor will read, and it must capture the editor's attention and hold his interest. The subject line must make it clear that this is a query email. If you have a witty title use it on the subject line. You could write something like this: Query—10 Ways to Find A Reliable Used Car On Craigslist. If the subject line is ambiguous, a busy editor will click on the next email in the queue.

How to handle “Tear sheets.”

Since sending unrequested attachments is a monumental no—no, how do you submit tear sheets, your writing samples? Do not copy and paste them in the body of your e-query. Instead of sending attachments, include a link in the body of your e-query sending the editor to your web site where he or she can read your published clips.

Formatting an e-query.

Since you do not know what email program the editor is using follow these rules when composing your e-query:
1. Do not indent.
2. Do not use special formatting, like Bold, Underlining, Italics, Etc.
3. Do keep your line length to 80 characters or fewer. This will keep you e-query looking neat.
4. Do not use html coding. You do not know if the editor's email program can handle html. Even if the editor's email client can handle html, you will look like an amateur.
5. Do send it to yourself first to get an idea of what it will look like when the editor opens it.

Proofreading and editing an e-query.

Proofread the e-query as you would a manuscript. Double-check the spelling. Spell checker are handy but they will not catch a typo if the typo is a correctly spelled word. Double-check your grammar. Print it out and read it aloud to yourself.

Be patient.

Wait 2 to 3 weeks after sending an e-query for the editor to reply. If you have not heard from the editor after 2 to 3 weeks, send him or her a brief but polite follow-up email. Even better, pick up the telephone and give the editor a call. While I am on the subject of telephone calls, make sure that you include your telephone number beneath your signature in every e-query that you send so the editor may contact you by telephone or email.

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Attachment, Attachments, E-Query, Editor, Editors, Email Queries, Query Letter, Query Letters

Meet the author

author avatar Jerry Walch
Jerry Walch is a 71 year old freelance writer for hire living in Colorado Springs, Colorado. He has been writing since the late 1970s, and writes for both the print and online media. He specializes in

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author avatar James R. Coffey
21st Nov 2010 (#)

Beautiful! Just beautiful!

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author avatar j.m. raymond
22nd Nov 2010 (#)

My goodness - wikinut is going to have to buy a new roll - or several - of those gold star stickers, just to keep up with you!

Keep 'em coming. Thanks for sharing your expertise.

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author avatar Jerry Walch
22nd Nov 2010 (#)

Thank you, J.M.

That's what I'm here for, to help my fellow writers and everyone else that I can.

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author avatar Denise O
23rd Nov 2010 (#)

Wonderful piece Jerry!
You're the tops in your field
of how to write and how to take darn good pictures.
Thank you for sharing.:)

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author avatar Abdul Rahim Hasan
30th Nov 2010 (#)

Very informative. Great photos. Well done.

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author avatar Jerry Walch
30th Nov 2010 (#)

Thank you Abdul.

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author avatar Martin King
13th Feb 2011 (#)

great informative article looking forward to reading more of your work.

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author avatar Phyl Campbell
1st Sep 2013 (#)

Great advice. This is the second article of yours that I have found, and now I am following you. Thanks!

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