Question of the week: What is a query letter vs. an unsolicited manuscript?

So, you’ve read our guidelines and know you have to send a query letter. What kind should you send? There are two types of queries: ones that have the first three chapters of the manuscript attached and ones that just have a letter summarizing the project. Personally, I find the last kind of query completely useless. You might be able to write a brilliant summary of your novel, but the novel itself is so bogged down in hyper-realistic detail (you show every moment of every day in the character’s life) that the thing is unreadable. However, that is a personal preference. Some editors don’t want to see manuscript pages unless they are interested in the actual project. Since we’ve got both kinds of editors at Blooming Tree, we accept both kinds of query letters. Just remember, if you’re writing a mid-grade/YA science fiction, fantasy, mystery, or general novel, there’s an above average chance your query is coming to me. I highly recommend you send the first 3 chapters (or 15 pages – whatever is longer) with your query.

An unsolicited manuscript is where you send the complete manuscript without being asked for it. Some houses allow this, CBAY for example. Most houses do not. Even with a complete manuscript you will need some form of cover letter. Every editor differs on what they want in the letter. I personally don’t read them unless I can’t figure out what’s going on in the story. That’s a very bad sign. However, lots of editors read them first. It just depends on personal preference.

Note: All picture books and easy reader books under 1500 words should always be sent as a complete manuscript. Do not send the beginning of picture book like you would send the beginning of a novel.

© Copyright 2006-2011 Madeline Smoot. All rights reserved.
May be excerpted and duplicated for educational purposes.
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