The Scary Query Letter

Until I began compiling my poetry book, I didn’t realize how difficult my chosen profession actually was. I believed everything would be easy. I would find a publisher, submit my top-notch writing and BAM! Be published; or get rejected and have to try elsewhere. As I searched through a book called Writer’s Market 2017, I made notes of poetry book publishers. When I finally reached the Z’s, I realized I needed to double check if they were still open and study their current guidelines. The book edge full of yellow post-it notes made me want to give up. How was I supposed to find any in an afternoon? I had this planned and it wasn’t going right.

Sighing, I opened the book, a web browser, and a spreadsheet. If I had to research all of this, I was going to take notes so I wouldn’t have to go back and forth later on. After reading through 4 submission guidelines, for four different publishers, I could take them off my list. My poetry didn’t fit the guidelines. By 10pm, after two cups of earl grey tea,  I’d found 11 possible publishers I believed my manuscript fit.

“Mom,” I said, after rushing inside her house, hoping she’d brought me a milkshake, “I finally made it through all the publishers. Now I have to figure out this query letter thing. How do I sum up a collection of poems written at different times in my life?”

“Well, you just do it,” she replied.

“Oh… yeah….” Not the pearls of wisdom I’d hoped but she’d had a long day and never trod the publishing path. “Well, I’ll worry about that tomorrow. My brain feels like swiss cheese right now.” I didn’t find the milkshake, but returned to my apartment with cake and ice cream, close enough to a milkshake. Ensconced on the bed with a cat and dog vying for a “platonic” sniff of the goodies, I lifted the plate over my head. After not a few threats and a firm tone, the marauders backed off.

“How does one write a query letter?” I asked them.

Polly, in typical cat fashion, yawned and flicked her tail at such an absurd question. Cinders scooted closer staring at my empty plate. My answer wasn’t coming from these two. Well, time enough to find answers in the morning.

The next day, I read the article on query letters four times. Basically I introduced my work, summed it up tidily, told the editor a little about myself and my publishing history, and ended the letter politely thanking the editor for their time. Nothing to it, right?

I always over complicate things, you want me to put a bookshelf together? See me in three days and it will be half put together because of a minor indiscretion in the wording of the instructions. Or how about cutting a board at a 45 degree angle? That was complicated, until Pop took the saw, drew a line, and cut it. After that it was simple.

I read and reread example query letters, hoping to get the basics down. I thought about how to sum up the poems I wanted published and describing the audience I expected to engage. How do you say that you have poems for angsty teens, introverted people, poems for the philosophers, poems for people of many audiences all encased in one book?

Maybe Mom was right. I just have to write the letter, reread, edit, shine it up, and let it go. So today I am writing a query letter and pulling my hair out. If you find a bald poet, please treat them kindly and buy them a Peanut Butter Fudge milkshake.


A note on posting schedules: From now on– every other week will have two blog posts with a special once monthly fiction post. You may have seen Meghan’s Haunting, part 1, that is the once monthly special post right now. 

The reason for the change of schedule is I was burning out and running out of things to write about. I have found my limits and now this schedule suits me just fine. It also leaves me time to edit I Am Ambrosia, and get that novel ready for publication along with a YouTube side project I’m starting.

For those of you who put up with me in real life, you’ll probably see a change of my name on here and sites like Instagram and Twitter.  I’m taking up a pen name, a pseudonym, and would appreciate you guys helping keep my real name a secret. 

Thanks very much for reading and subscribing! I love you all and rejoice in all likes, comments, and subscriptions. ♥♥♥


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