Querying and Approaching a Publisher

Querying a publisher may get you published

If you’re a writer you will have heard about querying or the querying trenches. If you’re new to writing, you may be wondering what this is. When you want to send your book to a traditional publisher, the process is called querying. You can also query an agent who, if they accept your book, will do the querying for you.

Querying and approaching a publisher is somewhat intimidating. I have been in the querying trenches a few times and did have one Top 5 publisher interested in one of my books. They asked me to send a full manuscript after a ‘Meet the Publisher’ event I attended at Writing NSW. Unfortunately, it wasn’t meant to be because after waiting a year to hear back from them, when I didn’t, I decided to continue self-publishing my books.

I know the self-publishing process well as I have published this way since 2019 and it has worked for me. My books sell online, in bookshops, and are available to borrow at libraries. I also market them on social media, sell them at markets, and do free author talks with Sydney Authors Inked, a collective of local Sydney authors who give free talks at The Little Big House, Summer Hill every few months.

A collective of authors giving free author talks

One of the things to keep in mind when you do decide to query is to choose a publisher who will be interested in the genre of your story. The right fit for the author and publisher is important. Do your research and check the submission pages of the publishers before you send anything to them. Follow their submission guidelines, it will make things easier for you in the long run. And be patient, publishers are busy people and it takes time for them to come back to you.

Once you have done your research and have created a short list of publishers or agents you think will look at your story, this is when you write your query letter. This is your sales pitch to the agent or publisher, it does the heavy lifting for you. Keep your letter short and to the point and include –

  • Your book’s genre, word count, and title. Also, a subtitle if it has one.
  • Describe your story in a short synopsis. If they are interested, they will ask you for more.
  • Don’t overload them at this stage.
  • Add your biography.
  • Close the query letter with a thank you and how you can be contacted.

Traditional publishing helps authors reach a bigger market than self-published authors, but it is a waiting game. There are many authors who are both traditionally published and self-published, and this works for them.

If your passion is writing, then your story will find its niche no matter how you publish and promote it. For me, I enjoy the process of writing and the stories keep coming, so while this keeps happening, I will publish my books. Wishing you luck with whichever way you choose to publish yours.

For readers interested in attending our Sydney Authors Inked talks, please register for free tickets on Humanitix. For authors who would like to do a talk, please send us an email at [email protected].