As some of you may know, to submit with us, you only need a query letter, a summary, and the first three chapters of your completed Fiction or Non-Fiction manuscript.

“Only,” you repeat back dryly.

We know. We’re writers too, remember? And because of that, we’re willing to bet the main thing holding you back is that dreaded query letter. But don’t fret! We’re here to help.

As we went over in an earlier post about the importance of query letters, we explained just how vital a query letter is in the process of getting yourself published. And yet, if you don’t know how to write one, it could also be your biggest roadblock.

To help you get started, ask yourself these three basic questions.

1. What genre does my story fall under?

Remember, at Winterwolf we accept both Fiction (send us your tales of fairy dust, moonstones, and the unexplained) and Non-Fiction (recollections of the spiritual, natural, and speculative are welcome). Just as we are dividing our submissions into two genres, so too can you split the way that you might write a query letter.

So, pick up your manuscript and choose a side. We’re willing to bet that you already have — maybe even before you ever put pen to paper — but it never hurts to comb over a few pages with a fresh eye. And hey, if you can’t decide into which genre your book falls then shoot us an email at [email protected] and we’ll take a whack at it.

2. Where am I sending my letter to?

Just as we discussed in a previous post, your query letter can go to one of two people: an editor, or an agent. For Winterwolf Press, your query letter will be for an editor*.

Normally, a query letter sent to an editor at a publishing house is bound to get filtered by a few underlings before ever reaching their desk. As intern, Jane Bedell said, “Spending more than a couple of minutes on any manuscript is a waste of valuable time. And remember, at almost all publishing houses, the manuscripts are read by interns (like me) or someone other than the editor.”

Luckily, Winterwolf is a press, so there’s no need to send out a query letter with your fingers tightly crossed here. Our director reads each submission personally and each one is reviewed by more than one person.

3. Have I done my research?

The last thing you ever want to do is send your manuscript off to a list of editors you blindly found on Linkedin. Instead, look to the books that you’ve undoubtedly been drawing inspiration from while writing your own, and research who they were published through. Consider successful marketing campaigns (think: ‘Team Edward vs. Team Jacob‘) that you might be able to bring up when pitching the possible profits of your own future book promotions.

So now you know what you’ve got, and where you’re sending it. And for the sake of learning how to format a query specifically for Winterwolf this month, let’s just say that you’ve got a fiction manuscript ready to submit.

First, you know it’s a fiction work, so you can send your information our way with that little tidbit clear in the subject line. Second, you know that you’re sending a query to a press, so you’re going to format it for an editor, not an agent.

*Here’s why. 

An agent is someone who does not work for a publishing house, but rather agrees to represent a work and later bring it to publishers who have taken on similar projects (genres/themes/etc) in the past. Of course, if you wanted to forgo the agent and send your manuscript to a decent publishing house, you could always try that, too (beware — many publishing houses will not even glance at a work that is not represented by an agent).

Winterwolf Press is neither an agent nor a large publishing house. In fact, we’re rather small and incredibly devoted to each and every manuscript that we agree to represent. Because of that, it’s best to send us a professional — personal — detailed query letter doing everything that a normal letter to an editor should successfully do.

Here are some specific topics that you’ll want to cover in this type of query:

  • A brief introduction of yourself (author’s bio)
  • Published? Self-published? Short form or long? Mention followers on social media
  • Manuscript plot and genre
  • Your soon-to-be novel’s niche in the market

And there you have it. So go on — write your Winterwolf Press query letter; one that makes everything about you and your book.

Good luck, and happy writing!