Query Letter Advice Anyone?

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tmaulhardt
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Query Letter Advice Anyone?

Postby tmaulhardt » Fri May 31, 2013 7:59 am

I have written queries to agents regarding novels, but have not yet written a query for a short story market. I am wondering if there is a golden recipe for such a query, or if people can share structures that work for them when querying magazine editors. Thanks for any help.
Terry Madden: http://www.threewellsofthesea.com/
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s_c_baker
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Re: Query Letter Advice Anyone?

Postby s_c_baker » Fri May 31, 2013 8:11 am

All the advice I can find seems to say "Just like a novel query, but shorter."

Not very helpful, unfortunately.

More importantly, does the market you're targeting explicitly ask for a query? If not, don't send one, and just send the story, unsolicited, along with a short cover letter:

Dear [editor/etc],

I am writing to submit my ####-word [genre] short story, "TITLE GOES HERE."

[list of relevant publication credits if any]

Thank you for your time and consideration.

Sincerely,

NAME

(note some markets also ask you to include full contact information in the cover letter, in which case it should probably go after NAME at the bottom)

ETA in your case the publication credits should say something like "I recently won first place in the first quarter of Writers of the Future, so you would be a total moron not to publish this story."

Well, maybe not that last bit. wotf001 But definitely mention that success, even though it hasn't gone to print yet and won't for about another year.
Stewart C Baker - 1st place, Q2 V32
My contest history: Semi-finalist, R, HM, R, R, HM, HM, R, R, R, R, HM, R, R, R, R, Winner
My published fiction, poetry, &c.

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tmaulhardt
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Re: Query Letter Advice Anyone?

Postby tmaulhardt » Fri May 31, 2013 8:27 am

Thanks, Stewart. That's very helpful. wotf008
Terry Madden: http://www.threewellsofthesea.com/
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Mike Resnick
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Re: Query Letter Advice Anyone?

Postby Mike Resnick » Fri May 31, 2013 3:44 pm

May I suggest, as someone who (as a writer) has sold about 300 stories and (as an editor) bought about 700, that no letter of query is necessary for the average short story. The market listings tell you what you need to know, in terms of length, pay and subject matter, and unless you have some wildly specialized knowledge to impart -- for example, you were a paleontologist stationed in Botswana for 27 years and this is a story about dinosaurs in Botswana -- don't bother with a letter. The story will speak for itself. All you can really do is list credentials, and if they're to major markets, the editor almost certainly knows about them, and if they're not, then why bother? Most of the query letters I get as an editor tell me what the story's about; thanks, but if I'm going to read it, I don't need a synopsis too.

-- Mike Resnick
Hugo & Nebula multi-award winner
Writers of the Future Contest Judge
www.mikeresnick.com

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Re: Query Letter Advice Anyone?

Postby s_c_baker » Fri May 31, 2013 6:13 pm

Mike Resnick wrote:May I suggest, as someone who (as a writer) has sold about 300 stories and (as an editor) bought about 700, that no letter of query is necessary for the average short story. The market listings tell you what you need to know, in terms of length, pay and subject matter, and unless you have some wildly specialized knowledge to impart -- for example, you were a paleontologist stationed in Botswana for 27 years and this is a story about dinosaurs in Botswana -- don't bother with a letter. The story will speak for itself. All you can really do is list credentials, and if they're to major markets, the editor almost certainly knows about them, and if they're not, then why bother? Most of the query letters I get as an editor tell me what the story's about; thanks, but if I'm going to read it, I don't need a synopsis too.

-- Mike Resnick

There are actually a few markets who want short story queries before you submit, but they usually aren't "regular" short story magazines (e.g. one web-based SF video game I can think of). For everything else, Mike is right on the money.
Stewart C Baker - 1st place, Q2 V32
My contest history: Semi-finalist, R, HM, R, R, HM, HM, R, R, R, R, HM, R, R, R, R, Winner
My published fiction, poetry, &c.

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tmaulhardt
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Re: Query Letter Advice Anyone?

Postby tmaulhardt » Fri May 31, 2013 7:13 pm

Thanks Mike and Stewart. A paleontologist in Botswana I am not...but I am on my way to send out my next story to the great beyond...
Terry Madden: http://www.threewellsofthesea.com/
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