How to Query a Publisher

Recently my press was mentioned in an author’s listing for publishers seeking submissions.

It’s a great thing, truly. I am not complaining. The more submissions the better. The number of queries we received (so far) in the month of March is 75% more than the number of queries we receive in the month of February. And that, to be modest, is a significant jump in the number of book submissions that our team of editors now needs to read through. Not bad. Not bad at all. Hopefully, there are some great books in the slush pile just waiting for us to love.

What I noticed with the sudden influx of submissions, is that a goodly percentage of these submissions are from authors who clearly have no idea how to do a submission, or how to come across as professional.

Consequently, I thought I’d post today about the submission process.

If you are not going to self-publish your book, then this means you are going the traditional publishing route. You can try to publish with the Big 5 (see list:, or you can look for an indie press (see post Self-Pub, Indie-Pub, or Big 5 for detailed information on the pros and cons of each process). Basically, if you want to publish with the Big 5, you must get an agent first. If you want to publish with an indie press you don’t necessarily need an agent.

A query means that you are contacting a publisher so they can consider contracting the book for publication. The query consists of a letter that introduces you and your book to the publisher, and any other information that each publisher requires. EACH PUBLISHERS’ REQUIREMENTS are different. You will have to investigate their submission guidelines (located on their website) to see what they want specifically and how to submit to them.

It’s not in your best interest to bulk email many publishers at once with a single query. Mostly because they will probably just delete it. Why? Because you can’t bother to follow directions. And you look unprofessional.

Moving forward, I will be Literary Wanderlust specific, because our submission guidelines are those I know best.

Literary Wanderlust ( ) wants a query letter, the 1st 3 chapters of your manuscript, and a synopsis. Our submission website (http://QueryMe.Online/LiteraryWanderlust ) also asks questions about you as author, and your book. Most publishers will want some variation of this information but not exactly this information, which is why you have to read each publisher’s guidelines.

Your query should be addressed to a specific editor if possible, and should include the story’s premise, the total word count, the genre, and a bit about you.

Here’s an example query letter (I just randomly pulled a letter that had all the elements—the names have been changed to protect the innocent and the letter has been simplified)

Dear Ms. Brooks,

BOOK TITLE will engross readers of thrillers and paranormal stories. THE CHARACTER is a psychic can see and talk to spirits. After a fire has destroyed much of California, she has been hired by the mayor to investigate a series of murders that many people believe have been committed by spirits…

I have published the following works: TITLE, TITLE, TITLE

I live in California with my husband Dan and two dogs. In addition to writing, I enjoy playing with my dogs, gardening, working with my students, and contributing as a board member and director to the local theater group.

Best Regards,


This is generally how query letters look. To that letter, attach your superbly polished novel pages. You want to put the best possible example of your writing forward for review. Make sure there are not typos or missing words. Your synopsis (see post How to Write a Synopsis for information on that topic) should include all the major story arcs and the ending.

When you have all your pages ship-shape then do your research and submit to publishers (who should never charge you any money to publish your book. If they do, run!). Do your best to be professional. Remember that you are representing yourself and you are a professional. Be kind. Be thorough. And hopefully, your book will move to the next step. Good luck!


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