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What's An Aspiring Author To Do?

This column is based on questions Margaret gets asked by those who also want to write romance novels. The answers are based on her personal experience. Every author must and should find their own way along this path; however, sometimes it helps to know how it was for an author who's reached the goal of publication.

This column's question:
Now that I've written my book, or almost finished it, I'm ready to test the waters of publishing. What do I do next?

Margaret answers:

The next stage in the process is sending out query letters, either to agents or editors.

And just what is a "query letter?" It's a one-page letter to an editor about your story. The intent is to see if there is sufficient editorial interest to proceed further in the process.


* make sure you've addressed it to the appropriate editor!
* ALWAYS phone to confirm name and title.
* keep it businesslike
* use professional-looking stationery
* make sure your name, address and phone number are clearly printed
* if there's something that can "sell" you as a writer (professional credentials, education), state it up front (brag!)
* what kind of story it is (so the editor knows you've addressed it to the right person)
* the basic premise of the story -- hero, heroine and conflict
* use ONE paragraph, possibly two, to give the key points about your story
* try to get the tone of your story across

If you're doing an historical:

* state the time period
* emphasize the characters

The Closing

If you haven't bragged before, now's your chance!

* any writing experience
* memberships in professional associations (such as Romance Writers of America).

Be professional.

Don't get cute. This is your first contact with a publishing professional and you don't want to come across as an amateur!

Index of Aspiring Author Columns
This material is Margaret's intellectual property. If you would like to print it out for your personal use, feel free. If you belong to a writing group and would like to reproduce it for your fellow writers, please e-mail Margaret at maggiejmoore @ (no spaces). All other use is prohibited.

Copyright © 2005 by Margaret Wilkins. This material may not be copied without permission.