How to Write a Query Letter
Query letters? Where does an author start?
Start simply. Don't confuse the agent/editor about what you are after.
I have a complete 45,000-word middle-grade fantasy novel that I would like to submit to you for your review. Follow with 3 basic paragraphs.
The query letter should be a single page cover letter that introduces your book and you. That’s it. Keep it simple. You don't need a resume. Don't give a rambling saga about your life as a struggling writer. Don't pretend a friendly, “Hey, what’s up, buddy?" Or brag, "I’m the next Neil Gaiman and I have the next best selling novel for you." Don't butter them up or try to snow them.
A query letter has three concise parts: the hook, the mini-synopsis, and your writer’s biography. The advice I've heard is, "Don’t stray from this format". Don’t try to catch an agent’s attention by creating an inventive new query approach. You’re most apt to just alienate your agent and ruin your chances of being taken seriously as a professional writer. The query is meant to get the agent to ask you to send some sample chapters or even the whole manuscript to them to peruse. Keep it simple. Stick to three paragraphs. The goal is to get the agent to read your book. Don't chance them blowing you off because you screwed up the introduction.
E-Mail or Snail Mail?
An email query should be brief and text-only. If you have a regular query letter, don’t send it as an attachment. Copy and paste the text of it into the body of the email. Agents are rightly paranoid about receiving virus-tainted attachments. So never send email queries with attachments. They will be deleted and not read.
In the subject line of your email write: "QUERY:" And then your title. Read the web-site of your agent before sending your query email. They will tell you their expectations and requirements. Whatever you do, show them you are capable of following directions! Writers are often quirky enough. They don't need a really anarchistic writer who insists on doing it their way. It they perceive you'll be a problem, they will skip over, or simply disregard your query in favor of 200 others.
If possible try to personalize your email queries to specific agents without going overboard. Don’t send out one standard copied email. This will improve your chances of getting responses. Also, don't be surprised if every agent doesn't send you a reply. It is commonplace for agents to respond only if they are interested in knowing more about your novel. If you don't hear from them, that is their answer.
Paragraph One—The Hook: A hook is a concise, one-sentence tagline for your book. It’s meant to hook your reader’s interest, and wind them in. The best way to understand how to write a hook is to read the loglines of the titles sold by agents in our free searchable AQ database.
Here are a few examples of hooks for well-known novels:
House of Sand and Fog
When Massoud Amir Behrani, a former colonel in the Iranian military, sinks his remaining funds into a house he buys at auction, he unwittingly puts himself and his family on a trajectory to disaster; the house once belonged to Kathy Nicolo, a self-destructive alcoholic, who engages in legal, then personal confrontation to get it back.
Bridges of Madison County
When Robert Kincaid drives through the heat and dust of an Iowa summer and turns into Francesca Johnson's farm lane looking for directions, the world-class photographer and the Iowa farm wife are joined in an experience that will haunt them forever.
When family patriarch, Alfred Lambert, enters his final decline, his wife and three adult children must face the failures, secrets, and long-buried hurts that haunt them as a family if they are to make the corrections that each desperately needs.
The "When" Formula: As you can see, we’re a fan of the when formula: “When such and such event happens, your main character—a descriptive adjective, age, professional occupation—must confront further conflict and triumph in his or her own special way. Sure, it’s a formula, but it’s a formula that works.
However, be warned...everyone and their grandmother who reads this site will try using our "when" formula, so we recommend simply using it as a starting point. Write your basic hook, then try spicing things up as you get more and more into the groove of "hooking." And don't worry, it's legal in every state, not just Nevada.
Check out these very simple, yet very non-"formulatic" fiction hooks:
The Kite Runner
An epic tale of fathers and sons, of friendship and betrayal, that takes us from Afghanistan in the final days of the monarchy to the atrocities of the present.
The Da Vinci Code
A murder in the silent after-hour halls of the Louvre museum reveals a sinister plot to uncover a secret that has been protected by a clandestine society since the days of Christ.
Everything Is Illuminated
With only a yellowing photograph in hand, Jonathan Safran Foer—both author and meta fictional protagonist—sets out to find the woman who might or might not have saved his grandfather from the Nazis.
Here are some non-"formulatic" hooks for a few nonfiction books:
Into Thin Air
On assignment for Outside Magazine to report on the growing commercialization of the mountain, Krakauer, an accomplished climber, went to the Himalayas as a client of Rob Hall, the most respected high-altitude guide in the world, and barely made it back alive from the deadliest season in the history of Everest.
The Perfect Storm
The true story of the meteorological conditions that created the "Storm of the Century" and the impact the Perfect Storm had on many of the people caught in its path; chiefly, among these are the six crew members of the swordfish boat the Andrea Gail, all of whom were lost 500 miles from home beneath rolling seas.
A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius
The memoir of Dave Eggers, who at the age of 22, became both an orphan and a "single mother" when his parents died within five months of one another of unrelated cancers, leaving Eggers the appointed unofficial guardian of his 8-year-old brother, Christopher.
Other Great Ways to Start Your Hook:
· Give era and location: Three Different Examples:
1. Set in modern-day Jerusalem...
2. During the summer of 1889 in a rural Texas town...
3. Taking place in turn-of-the-century New York City...
· Set up your main character: Three Different Examples:
1. The tale of Una Spencer, wife of Melville's legendary fictional whale harpooner Captain Ahab...
2. A chatty cozy mystery starring 50-something college professor Bell Barrett...
3. Narrated by Cot Daley, an Irish peasant girl kidnapped from Galway and sent to Barbados...
· Variations on the "when" formula: Three Different Examples:
1. Following a botched circumcision...
2. While defending a drug-addicted prostitute accused of murder....
3. After years of abuse at the hands of her alcoholic mother and step-father...
There are literally scores and scores of hooks listed in our database, specifically in the past & present clients section of our agents’ profiles. We encourage you to read as many as possible, and learn what captures your attention in a single sentence. Then try to emulate a similar hook for your query letter.
Paragraph Two—Mini-synopsis: This is where you get to distill your entire 300 page novel into one paragraph. Lucky you. We’d like to offer advice on how to do this, but really, it just takes practice, hard work and lots of patience. Then, like we said before, get your friends to read it and if their heads hurt afterwards, go back to the drawing board. We don’t envy you. We really don’t. Summing up your entire book in an intriguing single paragraph is worse than a root canal.
So think of it this way. You had trouble writing the gist of your book in one sentence, right? Now, you get a whole paragraph. About 150 extra words. Here’s your chance to expand on your hook. Give a little bit more information about your main characters, their problems and conflicts, and the way in which adversity changes their lives. Read the back flaps of your favorite novels and try to copy how the conflict of the book is described in a single, juicy paragraph. You can do this. You really can. You just have to sit down, brainstorm, then vomit it all out onto the page. Afterwards, cut, paste, trim, revise, and reshape.
Paragraph Three—Writer’s bio: This should be the easiest part of your query. After all, it’s about you, the writer. Okay, so it’s a bit daunting, especially if you’ve never been published, never won any awards, hold no degrees from MFA writing schools, and possess no credentials to write your book. No problem. The less you have to say, the more space you have for your mini-synopsis. Always a plus.
If you do choose to construct a writer’s bio (and you should), keep it short and related to writing. Agents don’t care what your day job is unless it directly relates to your book. Got a main character who’s a firefighter, and that’s your day job? Be sure to say that. Otherwise, scrap it. Education is helpful because it sounds good, but it’s only really important if you’re offering a nonfiction book about A.D.D. children and you hold a PhD in pediatric behavioral science. If you’ve published a few stories in your local newspaper, or a short story in a few literary magazines, or won any writing awards or contests, now’s the time to list the details. Don’t go hog wild, but don’t be too modest either.
Your Closing: Congratulations! You’ve finished your query letter. As a formal closing, be sure to do two things. First, thank the agent for her time and consideration. Second, if it’s nonfiction, tell them that you’ve included an outline, table of contents, and sample chapters for their review. If it’s fiction, alert the agent that the full manuscript is available upon request. And in case you still don’t believe us, we want to reiterate: don’t query agents until you’ve finished your full fiction manuscript. Agents will want to read the whole novel before they offer representation to you and your book.
Do literary agents really read them?
Agents take queries very seriously, and yes, they really do read them. It’s not some universal rumor that agents have perpetuated because they all have a secret fetish for being bombarded with mail. Sure, agents make it sound like digging through the slush pile is the last priority of their day. Some agents even relegate the ambivalent task of reading unsolicited queries to an assistant or intern. But the fact of the matter is that most agents do read queries. Even more importantly, agents actually respond to ones that spark their interest.
So write a professional, intelligent, concise, intriguing query and not only will you entice an agent to ask for more, but you’ll move yourself one step closer to a book sale.
Need to see an ACTUAL query letter before you'll know how to write one?
We've been getting a lot of email from some AQ users who believe that they must see a query letter before they can write one. And you've been relentless in your requests for examples of REAL, L-I-V-E query letters. Some of you have even offered us shiny trinkets in exchange for a glimpse at the elusive QL beast. Well, it ain't the ivory-billed wood pecker, but here you go: examples from agents, industry-insiders, and writers with agents. You can't get a better view than that.
· Check our our "Examples of Successful Queries" group in our social networking community, AQ Connect. It's updated with new, successful queries almost on a daily basis!
· Chuck Sambuchino's "Guide to Literary Agents" blog offers successful query examples from agents and their clients.
· Query Shark blog, in which literary agent, Janet Reid, gives snarky advice on how to write a query letter to brave newbie participants willing to swim with The Shark.
In addition, here are a few AQ success stories of newbie writers — just like you — who used our AQ query letter advice to draft their query and snag their agents, who snagged them book deals with major publishers!
· New York Times Best-selling author and AQ success story, Allison Winn Scotch's query letter for her debut novel, DEPARTMENT OF LOST AND FOUND.
· New York Times Best-selling author and AQ success story, Heather Brewer's query letter for her vampire series, THE CHRONICLES OF VLADIMIR TOD.
· Published Author and AQ user, Catherine Delores's query letter for historical epic, THE MISTRESS OF THE REVOLUTION.
JUST FOR NONFICTION WRITERS: Truth be told, much of our AQ advice is geared towards fiction writers, which is kind of silly considering that there's a bigger market for nonfiction than fiction these days. And nonfiction writers have the added benefit of needing only a proposal—rather than a completed fiction manuscript—before seeking representation from an agent. So we've trolled the web and asked our nonfiction friends to recommend books, web links, and tips for writers seeking information on how to write a stellar nonfiction proposal. Here's what we came up with:
· "Writing a Proposal" from The Elements of Narrative Nonfiction: How to Write and Sell the Novel of True Events by literary agent, Peter Rubie.
· Literary agent Scott Mendel's take on "Writing a Non-Fiction Book Proposal."
· "How to Write a Non-Fiction Proposal" from Curtis Brown, Ltd. literary agent, Nathan Bransford.
· FinePrint Literary Management's "Proposal Guidelines," which is a great roadmap of what's expected from the majority of agencies.
· Folio Literary Management's "Proposal Guidelines." Ditto.
· CEO of Thomas Nelson Publishers, Michael Hyatt's e-book Writing a Winning Book Proposal, which is worth coughing up the $19.95 (and that's a BIG endorsement coming from cheap "everything-should-be-free-in-this-world" freaks like us).
· Same with agent Sharlene Martin's book, Publish Your NonFiction Book
Other Random Query Letter Tips:
· Do address your query specifically to an agent.
Nowadays, more and more agencies prefer email queries. Great for you, right? After all, email queries are free, fast and easy-peezy to send. Just the click of a button. Well, here's the downside: Ri-DIC-ulous amounts of email queries are being received by agents every day. Like, over 100 queries a DAY. And that's average for the more popular agents.
So if your query is addressed to "Whom it May Concern" — even if the agency's submission guidelines state "send all email queries to firstname.lastname@example.org" — guess what is going to happen to your precious 1 little email out 100? Yeppers... The big ol' DELETE.
For this reason, always, always, always address your email query to somebody... even if it's the intern's name (and sometimes it is the intern or assistant screening those 100-email queries-per-day). Always address it to a specific agent.
As far as salutations, there are lots of greetings from which to choose. Here are your options in order of best to worst:
Attn. Ms. Shermanstein:
Dear Adrian Shermanstein:
Dear Ms. Shermanstein:
Dear Ms. Shermanstein,
· Do state the title of your book.
You wouldn't believe how many wanna-be writers sweat for weeks and weeks over their query's hook and mini-syn, only to totally forget to include the title of their book in their query.
The title of your book should be included in at the beginning of your query — preferably in your hook — but at the very least, in the very first few sentences.
For some whacko reason, (and we have no idea why), newbie writers who don't completely forget to mention their book's title in their query, instead, do this really weird thing: they bury it at the end of their query. Like deep in the closing paragraph. Like it's some big reveal.
Don't be weird. Phhhhlease. State your book's title somewhere in the beginning of your query. You've been warned.
BTW, if you're sending an email query, include your title in the subject line: QUERY: AN AWKWARD FORM OF PROSTITUTION. And yeah, the catchier your title, the better chances your query will be opened and glanced over before those other 99-email queries.
· Do mention the word count and genre of your book.
Novels should be 80,000 to 100,00 words. Young adult novels can be significantly less: 40,000-60,000 words. Suavely insert word count and genre at the end of your first “hook” paragraph.
If your novel is a 200,000 word Weight Watchers candidate... our advice? Cut it down before you start querying.
Agents hit DELETE on a proposed first-time novel over 110,000-120,000, so you have two choices. You can either omit your word count (which is going to circle back to bite you in the bum when they request a partial, so we don't advise this...) or you can cut it down. Unless your first novel is an family saga historical or a science fiction battle epic, agents have little tolerance for chubby debut novels because major publishers simply don't buy them. Too expensive to print and distribute. Too risky of an investment.
· Do mention exactly why you’re approaching Ms. Agent.
Well, this one is more of a "Try-Your-Best-To..." Try your best to compare your book with other books that Ms. Agent has represented in the past. Or, at the very least, let her know that you've done some research, looked at her website, read her blog, checked out her submission guidelines and reviewed what she says she's looking for, blah, blah, blah.
And we'll admit, this "try-to" is one of those things that newbie writers do for the first 20-30 queries, and then it quickly gets dropped in favor of the numbers game. But if you met the agent at a conference or respond to a specific call for submissions that Ms. Agent posted on Twitter or her blog, then definitely mention it.
· Do adopt the "proper" tone for your query letter.
Yes, a query should be a professional business letter, but honestly, writing a query in the same manner as a regular cover letter is a recipe for snoozeville.
A great query should not only tell an agent what your book is about, but it should also match your book's tone.
Got a cozy mystery novel with a witty, self-depricating female sleuth? Then, why are you making your query sound like a stuffy academic dissertation? Got a suspenseful thriller with a hard-boiled edge? Then, why does your query letter sound like a bone-dry, business letter?
Matching your query's tone to the tone of your book is one of those tips that sounds like a "risk," because everyone will tell you to keep it professional. But really, we're not taking about writing your query from the POV of one of your characters. We're talking about showing your voice through your query's tone, and proving to an agent that you really understand your book's genre, and ultimately, its marketability.
· Do keep your query to one-page only.
This is "old school" advice, especially since the majority of younger agents who are actively building their client list only accept email queries. A one-page query letter is a luxury. In the age of emailed queries and GenY nano-second attention spans, you've got to hook an agent in half that time. Your limit is 250 words. 300 max. If you really believe you can't distill down your book into a 250 email query, you've either written one of those literary masterpieces in which there's zippo plot, or you need some help learning the art of the query.
· Do format your snail mail query using standard business letter alignment and spacing.
That means: Single spaced. 12 point font. Everything aligned along the left margin. No paragraph indentations, but a space between each paragraph. One-page only!
However, if you're sending an email query, be sure to send a version to yourself--and a few other email addresses--in order to search and destroy all those weird formatting blips. When you start copying and pasting from MS Word into email browsers, you'll be horrified to see how fonts and indentations become all FOOKED up. One of the best solutions is to copy and paste your query into a text editor, like Notepad, strip it bare of any formatting, and then re-edit your query directly in your email's browser.
· Do list your phone number, mailing address, and email address, but only IF you're sending a snail mail query.
If you're sending an email query, then don't waste the precious space. Start with Dear Ms. Agent: and then vomit right into your query letter.
· Do include a self-addressed stamped envelope (SASE) with all snail mail submissions.
However, if you're looking to streamline the whole snail mail thing, and you don't feel the need to pay for the privilege of receiving rejection letters via your SASE, simply state at the end of your query that no SASE is enclosed, and instead, Ms. Agent can simply email you regarding a request for a partial or full; otherwise, no additional response is required from the agent (like a "form" rejection letter).
· Do have a pair of "fresh eyes" proofread for typos and grammar mistakes.
How many typos have you found thus far? Yeah, exactly. Bet it's driving you nutszooooo.... Since most five year-olds can type and spell better than the AQCrew, be sure to get someone, anyone, even a five year-old, to proofread your query...
The Do NOT’s:
· Do NOT start off your query by saying, "I am querying you because I found your name in 'such and such' writing guide or internet agent database" (like AQ!). Not only does this take up valuable query letter space, but it's also the sign of an amateur.
· Do NOT refer to your novel as a fictional novel. That’s redundant. Just call it a novel.
· Do NOT sing the praises of your book or compare it with other best selling books.
· Do NOT send gifts or other bribes with your query.
· Do NOT print your query on perfumed or colored paper. Use plain business stationery.
· Do NOT shrink your font down to 9 point so it all fits on one page. 12 point is standard. 11 point if you’re really desperate.
· Do NOT Fedex or mail your query in a lavish, signature-required fashion in order to make your query stand out. It will stand out, but in a very "annoying, over-zealous, bad first impression" kind of way. Not to mention, it's a friggin' waste of money.
· Do NOT apologize in your query for being a newbie writer with zero publishing credits and experience. Your goal is to write a tight, alluring, eye-catching query and sound like a professional. If you're worried about your lack of writing credentials, just keep quiet and let the writing speak for itself.
· Do NOT include sample chapters of your novel with your query UNLESS an agent's submission guidelines specifically SAY to include sample pages with your snail mail query. If you really feel compelled to show an agent your writing style along with your query letter, include only the first 5 pages of your novel. Never send more than the first 5 pages with your query unless the guidelines say, "A-Okay!"
· Do NOT forget to list your email address or contact phone number on your query.
· Do NOT forget to enclose a self-addressed stamped envelope (SASE)
Still need more guidance and advice about how to write a stellar query letter? Join our social networking community, AQ Connect, and check out our Query Critique Corner. It's fun and 100% free!
Purpose of a Query Letter
The purpose of query letters for writers is to find out whether an editor would be interested in finding out more about seeing a piece of work. It's a professional business letter used to sell a manuscript or magazine/newspaper article idea. A query letter can accomplish much more than introducing a writer'sideas for a book or article.
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1. Get the Editor's Attention o The first paragraph of a query letter begins with the idea of selling your work. It's important that the first sentence grab the reader's attention and make her want to keep reading your query letter. Editors are extremely busy and often get sidetracked while working on projects, so your query letter should make a strong enough impact for the editor to remember it even after several unexpected interruptions.
Sell the Work o Don't waste time making small talk. Get right to the selling point of your letter. The selling point should clearly explain why you chose the topic you're pitching. It should show why the topic is unique. It could be something that interesting, controversial or shocking, and it shouldn't take more than a couple of sentences to demonstrate the point.
Sell Yourself o Your query also needs to contain a section that shows the editor why you are qualified to write the book or article. For instance, do you have specialized educational credentials? Or experience with the topic? Do you have clips proving that you're qualified to write about the subject? Sell yourself as the best writer for the job.
Ask for the Opportunity o The query also contains a section where you ask for the article assignment or the opportunity to have your book published. Show the editor how easy you'll make his job by handling the whole project, making sure it's well researched and delivered by the established deadline.
Showcase Your Clips o If your query letter is targeting magazine editors, you'll get the opportunity to supply some of your best clips as proof of your high-quality writing style. Clips are copies of published articles. If you are mailing your letter by snail mail you can make good quality copies of two or three articles to send along with the letter.
If you are sending a query letter electronically, you generally paste the clips into the body of the article rather than sending them as attachments. Some editors will not accept attachments because of the ever-present threat of viruses.
Read more: Purpose of a Query Letter | eHow.com http://www.ehow.com/about_7236775_purpose-query-letter.html#ixzz1tHR6VkDF
How to Write a Successful Query by Moira Allen As editors become increasingly swamped with inappropriate manuscripts, more and more publications are closing their doors to unsolicited submissions. This means that the query letter is fast becoming the only way to break into some of the best markets.
The Value of a Query Queries benefit both editors and writers. Editors much prefer to review a one-page letter than a 10-page manuscript, so queries spend less time in the slush pile. They also enable an editor to determine, quickly, whether you:
By querying first, you also give the editor a chance to provide feedback on your idea. The editor may want to suggest a particular length, or approach, or recommend experts to interview. S/he may want you to cover other aspects of your subject in sidebars. By finding out what the editor wants before you start writing, you'll avoid having to revise the piece later.
A well-written query can also result in assignments you didn't expect. If the editor is impressed by your style and credentials, s/he may offer you some other assignment, even if your original idea isn't usable. This can often be the beginning of a long, rewarding relationship!
Query Letter Essentials But how do you "sell" an editor on your article when you have no more than a page to explain your concept and display your writing skill? The answer is: By including everything the editor needs to know about your article -- and about you. A successful query letter generally includes these five basic components:
There are several ways to approach the "hook," including:
The problem/solution hook. This defines a problem or situation common to the publication's audience, then proposes an article that can help solve that problem. Here's an example:
The pet magazine market is an ideal place for newer writers to "break in". However, it is constantly flooded with inappropriate submissions. To break in, one must understand what these magazines want, and what they won't accept. ("Writing for Pet Magazines," sold to Byline.)
The Informative Hook. This usually presents two or three lines of useful information (e.g., facts, statistics), followed by an explanation of how this applies to the target audience. For example:
Thanks to a translation glitch, Microsoft was forced to pull its entire Chinese edition of Windows 95 from the marketplace. Microsoft recovered -- but that's the sort of mistake few small businesses can afford! ("How to Localize Your Website," sold to Entrepreneur's Home Office -- see Sample.)
The Question. Often, this is a problem/solution or informative hook posed as a question, such as:
Did you know...?
What would you do if...?
Have you ever wondered...?
The personal experience/anecdote. Many writers like to take a personal approach, as it immediately establishes the credential of "experience." Be sure, however, that your market uses more personal articles, or first-person accounts, before attempting a hook like this:
Forget-me-nots. I love their wistful name. I love their tiny blue flowers. And yes, I love that growing them is as simple as pie. ("Forget-me-nots: Simply Unforgettable Spring Flowers," by Mary R., sold to Fine Gardening.)
The attention-grabber. The goal of this type of hook is to make the reader sit up and take notice -- hopefully long enough to read the rest of the story. This might be a good "hook" for a query about parachuting in Yosemite:
As I fell from the top of Yosemite's El Capitan, I wondered if my life would truly flash before my eyes -- or if I would stop screaming long enough to notice.
Hooks to Avoid Certain hooks scream "amateur" and are guaranteed to speed a query to the rejection pile, including:
I'd like to offer you a 1,500-word article titled "Internationalizing Your Online Market." The article would discuss how small businesses can take advantage of "localizing" agents to tailor their products and market strategies to the international marketplace." ("How to Localize Your Website.")
If possible, your pitch should include a working title for your article (titles help editors "visualize" what you're proposing), a word-count (make sure you've checked the publication's guidelines!), and a brief summary of what the article will cover.
The Body This is where you really start to "sell." The body of your query will usually be from two to four paragraphs, and presents the details of your article. Remember that an editor wants to know exactly what the article will cover, so by this time you should have a working outline of the piece in your own mind.
A good way to present an overview of your topic is to break it into logical subtopics -- e.g., the sections that would be likely to appear under subheads in the finished piece. The longer the article, the more subtopics you can include (though it's usually not advisable to have more than four or five). For example, a 700-word article on cancer in pets might only cover "The ten warning signs of cancer," while a 2000-word article on the same topic might cover "common types of cancer, warning signs, and current treatment options." A good way to determine whether you have the right number of subtopics is to divide your word-count by the number of topics -- e.g., a 2,000 word article with five subtopics gives you a budget of 400 words per topic.
Here's how I described the content of an article on quilt care:
The article covers techniques of hand-cleaning delicate quilts to avoid damaging fragile fabrics and prevent fading and staining. It discusses ways to remove spot stains (including blood spots and rust stains from needles and other metal contact). It also discusses ways to mend damaged quilts without destroying the integrity of an heirloom piece. Finally, it discusses the best ways to store or display quilts in order to preserve and protect them. ("Caring for Heirloom Quilts," sold to DownUnder Quilts.)
Some writers like to use block paragraphs; others like to use bullets. There's no rule on the best style; choose a style that makes your query visually appealing and easy to read.
The Credentials Editors want to know why you are the best person to write the article you've proposed. This is where your credentials come in. Don't assume, however, that these must include writing credits. While a list of previous articles on relevant topics is nice, you may also be able to prove your qualifications with credentials such as:
As webmaster of www.musicphotographer.com, it has been my job to connect music writers and photographers with the markets that need their work. This is the only site devoted to music journalism on the Web. I'm also writing the first guide on the topic. Reviews for my last book, The Van Halen Encyclopedia, are available at Amazon.com. (C. Chilver's successful pitch to Inkspot for "How to Write for the Music Market.")
The Close Use the final paragraph of your article to thank the editor for reviewing your proposal -- and to offer one last "nudge" to encourage the editor to respond. I usually include a time-estimate in this paragraph -- e.g., "If you are interested in this article, I can have it on your desk within XX days." Here's a typical closing paragraph:
I hope this topic interests you, and look forward to your response. If you would like to see the article, I can have it on your desk within two weeks of receiving your go-ahead. Thank you for your time!
Format The presentation of your letter can be as important as your content. A traditional (paper) query should include the following elements:
Clips Many editors ask for clips so that they can review a sample of your writing style. Clips are simply copies of previously published materials. Never send copies of unpublished works! Don't send clips of work you've self-published or posted on your own website. And remember, bad clips are worse than no clips at all.
It's best to send clips that are relevant to the proposal, if you have them. If you don't, send samples from your most prestigious publications. If most of your published works are electronic, print out copies from your website; don't just ask the editor to "visit" unless you are sending an e-mail query.
If you have no clips, don't despair. Most editors consider the merits of a query first and the clips second. (To be honest, many editors don't even have time to read clips, even though they request them.) If your query is strong enough, the absence of clips shouldn't be enough to trigger a rejection, unless the publication works only with published writers.
Following Up How long should you wait for a response? Usually, you should wait at least as long as the publication's guidelines suggest (e.g., 4 to 6 weeks) -- and then add another two weeks "grace period." Then, send a polite follow-up. Attach a copy of your original query, so that the editor won't have to search the files for it. If you still hear nothing after another 3-4 weeks, consider a polite phone call. (No, it won't cause your article to be rejected.) If you still can't get an answer, and you would like to withdraw the query, send a final letter informing the editor that, as you have received no response, you are officially withdrawing the query from consideration. This protects you from charges of "simultaneous submissions" if the first editor finally decides to reply after you've already sent the query on to someone else.
The ability to write a good query is one of the most important skills in a writer's toolbox. A good query shows an editor that you can write and that you are a professional -- qualities that may result in an assignment even if the editor can't use your original proposal. Think of your query as a letter of introduction, your first and only opportunity to get your foot through that particular door. If you make a good impression, you're likely to be invited back (even if your original pitch is rejected). If you make a bad impression, you may find that door forever closed.
Related Articles: Preparing E-mail Queries, by Moira Allen
What to Do if You Don't Have Clips, by Moira Allen
Queries vs. Articles: Which is Best?, by Moira Allen
Copyright © 2001 Moira Allen
Excerpted from The Writer's Guide to Queries, Pitches and Proposals.
Moira Allen, editor of Writing-World.com, has published more than 350 articles and columns and eight books, including How to Write for Magazines, Starting Your Career as a Freelance Writer, The Writer's Guide to Queries, Pitches and Proposals, and Writing to Win: The Colossal Guide to Writing Contests. Allen has served as columnist and contributing editor for The Writer and has written for Writer's Digest, Byline, and various other writing publications. In addition to Writing-World.com, Allen hosts TimeTravel-Britain.com (a site dedicated to historic travel destinations in Britain); Mostly-Victorian.com (a growing archive of articles and excerpts from Victorian books and magazines); The Pet Loss Support Page; and AllenImages.net (showcasing her photography). She can be contacted at editors "at" writing-world.com.
How to Write a Query Letter
Query letters are a much-debated practice in the writing community. The majority of writers swear by them, but others feel they are a waste of time. There are many successful writers who stick to sending completed manuscripts or informal, ultra-brief queries. This practice has especially grown in the age of email, where a less formal writing style has taken root. See Bob Sassone’s article The Query Trap if you want to look further into that strategy.
Here are some advantages to writing a formal query letter:
Know your target
Money Bucks Magazine
1010 E. 10200th Street
New York, NY
August 22, 2000
Dear Max Swift,
You’ve Got Fraud! How Internet con artists can crush your portfolio
Last Monday, the Enforcement Section of the Massachusetts Securities Division ordered a temporary cease and desist order against three men it accuses of manipulating the stock market by flooding Yahoo.com with tens of thousands of false and misleading statements about Biomatrix Inc (BXM.N) and Genzyme Corp (GENZ.O). This is the latest in a growing series of civil and criminal lawsuits against people who manipulate stocks through mass emails or in this case, by posting misleading statements on financial discussion boards. My article will detail the trend from the perspective of three people.
My article would be an excellent fit in your Caveat Emptor section’s ongoing coverage of investment potholes. As is customary for that section, I will include a sidebar of ways you can protect yourself from Internet investment fraud. My advice will include: verifying any news through conventional sources, keeping an eye out for any unusual email from online newsletters, never trusting blind e-mails, and carefully watching or avoiding discussion boards altogether. The last point, that discussion boards rarely result in good investments, will also be a focus of the article. If you would like, this can also be turned into a sidebar.
In addition to the three sources above, I have access to dozens of other securities professionals, legal authorities and investors. I have been a professional investment counselor for the past fifteen years and was one of the earliest adopters of Internet trading. As a former state representative, I authored several investment fraud bills that are still on the Arizona law books. For the past two years I have written a weekly investment article for Phoenix Business Insider. I have also published investment-related articles in Worthwhile Investor, Smart Stock Analyst and Fund Advocate.
Enclosed are reprints of three of my recent articles covering investment and the Internet. These articles will demonstrate both my knowledge of the subject and my ability to convey that knowledge to the reader. Your readers need to know about this looming crisis and how it can affect their investment strategies. Please call my office to discuss any further details or resolve any questions. Thank you for your consideration.
About the letter This author of this query letter may or may not have some advantages over you. The author is someone who has all of the experience and credentials necessary to write the article, and has already secured sources. You may not have everything he has, but you need to know how it sounds when you do.
Note that the query is timely. The author may have been researching Internet fraud for months, but he went out and found an article that ties his research to that week’s news. Also note that none of his sources are from the particular case he mentions. Instead, he uses that case as a selling point for his research. Quite possibly he has already written a related article for his column, and he now wants to reuse part of it to make a national sale. There is nothing wrong with this practice. Selling similar articles (not just reprints) to different markets is perfectly acceptable.
Who needs a query letter?
Anyone working on a novel, a nonfiction book, or a magazine or newspaper article.
Who wouldn't use a query letter?
Poets, short story writers, or some children's writers working on small (in length) projects.
Who gets the query letter?
Query letters get sent to agents--asking for representation--or to editors, seeking publication. (For novelists, I always suggest putting your efforts toward acquiring an agent. Let the agent deal with the editors.)
Why send a query letter?
Sending out query letters will tell you up front if there is any interest in your project. No need to send the complete manuscript to an agent or editor who wouldn't be interested.
What is a query letter?
It's a mini-proposal, whose goal is to:
1) hook the attention of the editor or agent;
2) describe your project;
3) tell them who you are to be proposing this particular subject
4) and get them to ask to see more.
The first two or three paragraphs function as a brief synopsis for a novel. In the ``synopsis" part of your query, identify the underlining theme, the plot hook, your main character(s), and their conflict. After the synopsis paragraphs, you can point out your credits: don't worry if you don't have any. Most first-time novelists don't. But if you are a lawyer working on a legal thriller, for example, mention that. If you have any nonfiction publication credits, mention that. But it isn't necessary. Your writing will speak for itself. Be sure to also relate the word count for your book. State your book's genre--e.g. mystery, romance, mainstream. If you don't know, leave it out. It is not always necessary to state it if there are too many crossovers. But you could compare it to a similar book--in the vein of such and such. (But don't say you write like Stephen King--only Stephen King writes like Stephen King.)
At the end of the query letter you offer to send more--the complete manuscript for a novel. Do not offer a choice. Do not offer to send sample chapters or the complete manuscript. Offer only the completed manuscript. (You shouldn't be querying if your manuscript isn't complete.) If they want to see more they will tell you. They will also tell you if they want a synopsis.You can close your letter by simply saying ``May I send you the complete manuscript?"
The style in your query should reflect the style of the project you are proposing.
QUERY LETTER FORMATTING
1. A query should look like a business letter. Use your nice letterhead stationery. And make sure your phone number is on it. These days, make sure your email address is, too.
2. Also make sure you have the agent or editor's correct name, title, and sex! (I can't tell you how many letters I get that say Dear Mr. Camenson! I am sure, for example, that agent Rob Cohen will tell you about all of her misaddressed query letters, too.)
3. Again, your query should be only one-page.
4. Only propose one project in a single query, but you can mention if you are working on others.
5. If your book is part of a series, send a query for the first of that series. It will be difficult to sell the third or fourth book in a series if you haven't sold the first one yet. It just tells the editor/agent that you couldn't sell the first one and so you've given up and are moving on to the next one. Be sure to mention, though, that your book is part of a series.
6. Save the reviews for the book reviewers. Don't fall into the temptation of describing your work as dazzling, dramatic, exciting, fast-paced, or any other adjective. Say, ``My book is an account of...." not "My book is a humorous account..." Got it? No adjectives!
7. Never put yourself down in a query letter. Don't say--this is my first book, or you're not sure what they'll think. Also, don't say you hope they like it. Of course, you do! That's understood. Don't show your desperation or mention that Aunt Mary loved your idea. Keep it professional.
8. Do not forget to run your spellchecker before you send out your query letter.
9. Do not forget to enclose an SASE.
10. Don't send your query via email to editors and agents unless you are sure this form of communication is acceptable.
11. Remember that a query letter is your calling card. Make it your best writing ever.
Fiction Writer's Connection
PO Box 72300
Albuquerque, NM 87195
Sample Query Letter How to Format the Perfect Pitch Letter By Allena Tapia, About.com Guide
See More About:
Mr. Editors Name
Magazine Title or Publishing Company
City, ST 77777
Notice that the pitch is directly addressed to a specific editor. This writer has done their homework and researched the publication's editorial staff.
May 13, 2007
In November 2006, Rudolfo Maestro, the son of Mexican immigrant parents, and a teacher within the urban school district of SampleCity, Minnesota, was one of just 50 teachers nationwide to receive the prestigious Sample Educators Award. As I'm sure you may know, the Sample Awards have been called "the Academy Awards of Teaching," and come with a purse of $100,000- no strings attached.
With the mass exodus of many Caucasian, middle class students from urban districts like SampleCity, MN, the honor is quite an achievement for this young, 9- year veteran teacher. Add to that the fact that Mr. Maestro was raised and educated in the very same district where he now teaches, and the human-interest appeal is even greater.
The opening paragraphs grab the editor's attention by relating potential article content, and some possible human interest slants. The noted award shows that the article has a timely current event status for this quarterly trade publication.
I propose a 2,000 word interview with nationally recognized educator Rudolfo Maestro, focusing on the teacher's role within school districts that are slowly becoming re-segregated. How does this teacher, himself a minority, promote racial harmony and social justice within the "microcosm" of his classroom? What challenges has he faced in his short teaching tenure? What can other educators and social activists learn from his work?
This paragraph demonstrates an excellent sell. The proposal is clear, with sample questions and relevant angles laid out.
Since his award, Mr. Maestro had been interviewed for various publications, including Sample Newspaper, Sample Magazine, and Sample Trade Publication, but he has agreed to grant me an exclusive interview on this particular angle in relation to his award.
The last line above is the key to the question of why the editor should agree to work with this particular writer. It also demonstrates that the writer has done their research and already been in contact with the potential subject.
The personality of this educator is of great magnitude. As an interviewer, I've found him to be gregarious, talkative and very forthcoming. I am positive I can convey this personality into an article, and that other teachers, both minority and otherwise, will be able to take a little piece of his practice from this article.
I could have a rough draft to you within three weeks of acceptance. I anticipate a question and answer format, but am flexible based on Your Magazine's needs.
I also ask that you take a look at my resume, attached. I am an experienced editor, writer and proofreader, with cognate education in Teacher Preparation, making me knowledgeable in this subject field. I am currently working for Sample City's Sample Magazine. My past clips include Sample Clip, Sample Clip and Sample Clip.
This last paragraph is also key, and tells the editor why he should work with this particular writer. New writers can substitute other experiences here, including full time work or volunteer service. What is most important is to tell the editor why you, in particular, can handle this assignment.
Thank you for this opportunity.
Yours in writing,
Although the order and layout of a pitch letter may vary by writer, the general elements should be covered. Learn more about how to write a pitch with this step by step guide.
Sample Query Letters
Soft Tone Successful Query Letter 288 Words
2888 Quantum Lakes Drive
Boynton Beach, FL 33426
November 13, 2008
Ms. ….., Literary Agent
City, State, Zip
Dear Ms. …..:
In 1908, the residents of an Indiana farming community learn they harbored the most prolific female mass murderer in American history. One hundred years later, while on vacation with his wife, criminologist Thomas Sawyer happens upon a lake near the town that still cannot escape the stigma of Belle Gunness.
He is interested in building a summer home to avoid the Florida hurricane season. But when
he inquires about the ownership of the property, a caretaker tells him, “The lake owns itself.” While bemused by the absurdity of the statement, what he learns about three recent murders–
and their uncanny connection to the past–convinces him that he is privy to the eerie truth.
He discovers a secret so dark it threatens to destroy his life, and everyone around him.
Written in short, fast-paced chapters, DEAD LAKE is a 75,000 word tale of heinous crime, betrayal, greed, and lust; all overridden by two people whose love for each other is stronger than the evil that surrounds them. While far from a cozy, DEAD LAKE does not depict graphic violence, but focuses on a relationship that is intimate, compassionate, and faithful. DEAD LAKE is also the opening installment in a trilogy, of which DEAD SHADOW and DEAD PREDATOR are also completed works.
Two of my previous novels garnered agent representation, one a mystery and the other a thriller. For local novelists, I facilitate developmental, intermediate, and advanced writing workshops that are sponsored by The Palm Beach County Library System, and I am the
founder of The Perfect Write™, a professional editing and correspondence service. I am
most appreciative of your consideration, and a SASE is enclosed for your reply
Robert L. (Rob) Bacon
Soft tone Successful Query Letter 235 Words
2025 Lavers Circle, D-308
Delray Beach, FL 33444
January 25, 1999
Ms. …….. ………, Literary Agent
City, State, Zip,
Dear Ms. ………:
.. ……. recently provided editorial expertise during the finishing stage of my topical thriller FIRST STRIKE. Mr. …….. has expressed considerable enthusiasm for the manuscript and recommended I contact you regarding the possible representation of this work. Please consider:
HIV, CIA, Ph.D.; CIA, HIV, Ph.D.; Ph.D., HIV, CIA; whatever the order, only one segment
from each of these groups could have possibly destroyed prehistoric life on this planet.
But in any sequence–when combined–these components form the current nucleus for the potential destruction of mankind.
Science fiction? Absolutely not. Complete fiction? An impossibility to know.
In 1960 the United States government is alarmed when a U2 surveillance mission discovers
a massive crater near the border of Tibet and China. Our State Department orchestrates a research grant for a young archeologist to lead an expedition, under the pretext of searching
for Buddhist artifacts in Tibet. He is unaware of the real purpose behind the mission, which
is to determine if the Red Chinese have nuclear capability.
But what is unearthed during the expedition is far more disturbing than the Red Chinese potential for nuclear proliferation. The discovery provides a plausible explanation for the
death of the dinosaurs–and the emanation of the HIV virus.
Thank you for your courtesy and consideration. I look forward to your response. A synopsis and SASE are enclosed.
Robert L. Bacon
Soft Tone Individual-to-Business Letter 311 Words
City, State, Zip
Mr. ….. .. …., Vice-President of Marketing
City, State, Zip
Dear Mr. …….:
My name is ……… . …….. My wife and I are planning to move to Las Vegas from Florida after the first of the year, and I am writing to ask if you would be interested in discussing a Casino Host position at The ………… Casino with me.
I was an Independent Representative for ……. Casino prior to the purchase by the ………… conglomerate. As a sourcing medium for higher-end players to support the relationship with ………., I created a marketing plan that included a number of innovative concepts, all of which
I have documented with material included with this letter.
The sale of ……and the bankruptcy of The ……Casino in Biloxi forced me back into the real estate field, in which I have spent the entirety of my career other than my work in the casino marketing areas I have described. Depressed market conditions are having a critical impact on the real estate brokerage business of which I am an investor and also a working partner. Additionally, my wife and I have become disenchanted with the ever-expanding rigors of each Florida hurricane season.
Mr. ……, if you should feel that the creative marketing initiatives I have successfully developed complement a Casino Host working for The ……… Casino, I would be most eager to discuss the opportunity with you.
……… .. ……
Soft Tone Business-to-Business Letter 275 Words
City, State, Zip
Dear Mr. …….:
I hope our meeting on the 12th provided you with a solid forum for considering ……………… ………. storage systems as a potential complement to the ……………. product mix. Per your request, I have ordered a …………..with the latest accessories. This, coupled with the line drawings I left with you related to current technology, will enable a platform to create cost models.
I want to reaffirm the premise behind my reason for desiring to meet with you: In my opinion, ……………. Corporation can revolutionize the marketing of the entirety of the …………storage medium in the ……….. industry by furnishing any or all of the following–
· Long-Term Service & Maintenance Contracts
· Off-Off Balance Sheet Lease Options
Please thank ……. on my behalf for his contribution to our dialogue. His comments were most appreciated. He seemed enthused to learn how off-off balance sheet financing can be applied, and I think many of your other dealers would find this to be of equal interest. Off-off balance sheet financing is a fabulous tool when presented correctly.
Mr. ……., in closing, as I said more than once, I do not know for certain how I can fit into this, whether it be as an independent consultant or a full-time employee. All I know is that there is a position somewhere within the framework of the ……….. organization. A role that would enable my background to grow ………….. ………………… business in a major way via the placement of ……………storage systems.
I will ship this ………………unit to you asap. If I can be of any assistance in the meantime, please contact me at … … …. or my cell … … …..
……….. . ………….
Soft Tone Individual-to-Business Letter 145 Words
City, State, Zip
Ms. … …….., Chief Human Resources Officer
……….. ……. Bank
City, State, Zip
Dear Ms. ……..:
I was very pleased when ….. ………. contacted me regarding the ……….opening at the ………..
…….. Bank branch in ………… Mr. ……….. and I worked in the …………. office of …. ……. ……..during 2005, and we enjoyed an excellent business relationship.
This fall, I earned a 4.0 G.P.A. upon completing the Principles of Supervision 200 series course at ….. ……. College, and was one of only two students excused from taking the final exam. I also was cited by the professor for demonstrating a proficiency in writing. Currently, also at ….. …………, I am taking a three-credit hour course, “Microcomputer Applications,” which is a compilation of Word™, Excel™ and PowerPoint™.
Ms. …….., I am most grateful for the confidence Mr. ……… places in me, and look forward to hearing from you in a positive way regarding the position at the ……… Branch of …….. …….. Bank.
….. .. …….
Soft Tone Business-to-Individual Letter 218 Words
City, State, Zip
City, State, Zip
During the past year, you have favored me with your time and patronage. I cannot adequately express my deep appreciation for your interest in my new endeavor and the truly outstanding merchandise I represent. I can state without reservation that my affiliation with …. …….. has provided me with deep satisfaction and pride. My high regard for the company is in large measure a result of being able to deal on a professional level with a person such as yourself with total product confidence.
As the most trusted executive buyer’s service in the nation for gold jewelry, …. …….. is constantly expanding its already extensive product array to include many rare items, some of which are one-of-a-kind. Additionally, our expanded custom capabilities now enable you to design your own jewelry, often at no charge beyond our stated price per gram.
……, I will be delighted to arrange a private showing of …. …….. “Season” merchandise for you at your earliest convenience, and I will contact you in the near future regarding this. Enclosed is a 20% discount gift certificate that is valid until December 31st. It may be used with any item in our inventory–even custom design or special order pieces. Very simply, you are a valued customer. I know it, respect it–and want to keep it this way!
With warmest regards,
Enclosure: 20% Discount Gift Certificate
Soft Tone Individual-to-Business Letter 296 Words
City, State, Zip
City, State, Zip
I enjoyed seeing you and ….. once again, and only wish I could have hit the ball in the air. With no improvement with my vertigo over the past year and a half, it has been so debilitating that I am afraid I am going to be forced to give up golf. At least in the foreseeable future. I am told that what occurred might have been the result of damage to my inner ear due to sudden and sustained air pressure changes during my return flight from Great Britain. Whatever the cause, this is in line with the time frame when my balance and swing abandoned me.
……, I also have come to a decision regarding our business relationship. You have convinced me that you have exhausted all of your contacts and plied every option. I certainly could not have expected more out of any ……, and for all of your efforts I am most grateful. But, now, everything that can be done within your framework of associates has been accomplished. For this reason, I am going to pursue another …..
I will always remember the truly fun times, and I am particularly proud of how far your golf game has come. Anyone looking at your swing, today, would never believe the improvement over the past three years. Your set-up, takeaway, and swing-plane look exactly like they are supposed to, and your results bear this out. And as I said when we were leaving the clubhouse, get with a pro (I cannot imagine how you have developed so well without one) and work on your chipping. This, coupled with what you have achieved, will make you a consistent bogie or better player (I predict a legitimate 14 to 16 handicap).
Take care, and please stay in touch.
Moderate Tone Business-to-Business Letter 192 Words
Mr. ……. …, President
………. ………. Corporation
City, State, Zip
Dear Mr. …:
We hope this letter finds you well. We are confident that ……… ……. has performed to the best of its ability in representing …….. ……….. in the market you serve, however, to continue to develop the level of growth we are seeking, it is necessary to expand our sales opportunities.
For this reason, …….. ………is in the process of making several changes to streamline our sales and marketing environment, and one of these involves the elimination of the dealer exclusivity agreement for the state of ……. which we implemented with ……… ……. on …… .. ….. The aforementioned exclusivity agreement for the state of ……. between …….. ……… and …….. ……… will end on ..……… 1, of this year.
As with any change in the dealer arrangement, we respect the accounts the dealer has developed. For this reason, every reasonable effort is taken to avoid selling direct to accounts the dealer is currently supplying with our products. Please understand that if this should occur, it is not by design.
Mr. ….., we appreciate the efforts you have made on our mutual behalf, and ……… …….. looks forward to continuing to supply your …………. needs.
President, …….. ………..
cc: Mr. ……. .. ………., Chief Executive Officer, ……… ………….
Aggressive Tone Individual-to-Business Letter 322 Words
City, State, Zip
Ms. …… ………, Senior Vice-President
City, State, Zip
Dear Ms. :
I am writing to you, directly, to ask you to review a response from your office on November 22 to the October 19 letter I sent to Mr. ……… Copies of both letters, along with ……… material to support my contentions, are enclosed.
The couched responses in your November 22 reply were disconcerting enough, but I found it most distressing that my primary concerns were ignored altogether. Specifically, why was I treated in the manner that I described when an 800 FICO score was readily available to your credit personnel; and, why was the 8.25% interest rate missing from all of your ensuing promotional material–as if it never existed? Your argument that I applied for numerous cards, and as a consequence the higher interest rate was predicated on this, is, in my opinion, ludicrous.
Also, the fourth paragraph from the November 22 letter was particularly appalling. First, …….. promotional advertising clearly states that …….. does not carry a yearly fee, as does your …… …., of which my wife is a cardholder. Second, it is extremely gratuitous to mention interest-weighting criteria. After 37 years of maintaining a perfect credit history with your firm, the comment was both pejorative and condescending.
Ms. ………, I am not interested in pursuing this beyond your reply, but I will if I do not receive reasonable–and specific–answers. If mistakes were made, then so be it. I will drop this, and we can all move on. However, related to how my original requests were treated, I am not going to accept the justifications, if one can call them that, which your office provided on November 22.
Acc’t # …………………
Soft Tone Individual-to-Individual Letter 393 Words
City, State, Zip
Coach ……. ……….
……. ……. University
City, State, Zip
Dear Coach ………:
My name is ….. ………, and I am writing to ask a favor for a dear friend and mentor of mine,….. …… an …… ….. University alumnus originally from …….., and loyal supporter of yours, who is in declining health in a nursing home in ….. …….
….. hired me in 19.. in ….. ….. for my first “real” job, and while I was leaving the interview to spread the good news, he made what I thought was an odd request: to bring my gym bag to the following day’s training class. And at noon that next day, we went to the ….. …. YMCA. Little did I know that this would begin a lifelong friendship with a man who loved the game of basketball, and had a special respect for Coach ……. …. and his principles.
Whenever our paths crossed during the 20 years we worked together, ……’s first chore after he arrived in a city was to locate a YMCA or a facility that offered reciprocity with his …………… Athletic Club membership. So, whether in Nashville, Minneapolis, or San Francisco, instead of heading for a bar after work, we would hit the gym to play basketball.
And at some point when we were together, invariably, our conversations would turn to his family, his aching knees, and …… ….. University and Coach ………., but not necessarily in that order. Coach, you have never had a greater ally. I do not know who is your biggest fan, but I can assure you there has never been anyone more supportive of you than …… ….. Now, may I ask you to help with some words of encouragement for him?
My wife and I will be driving up from our residence in …. on June 29 to see ……. I can only imagine how busy you are and the demands that are made of your time, but if you could fax me (…..-…..-….) a brief note I could hand to ……. that would wish him well, I cannot express how much this would mean to him in his last days, and to me as his friend.
Coach, thanks. You will always be in our hearts. You are basketball, and to us ……..’s, this is life itself.
….. . ……….
P.S. Your assistant, ……, was wonderful to talk with. He is a compassionate gentleman.