Book Review: How To Write Irresistible Query Letters

How To Write Irresistible Query Letters, by Lisa Collier Cool

This is the sort of book that appeals to a particular type of writer, namely the writer looking to turn their writing into a business.  The fact that so many such books exist [1] suggest that there are many people who have at least a bit of curiosity in monetizing their writing habits.  This makes sense for at least several different groups of people–there are people who already write to such an extent that it makes sense that they would want to figure out ways to make it pay, and there are others who see other people making money as writers and therefore curious in doing the same for themselves.  This book is admittedly a bit out of date, as it was written in the age before the world wide web and before home computers became ubiquitous.  As a result, the advice in this book isn’t particularly timely, nor is it likely as helpful as it would have been thirty years ago when the book was written.  That said, where this book is still useful is the fact that it discusses an approach to monetizing one’s writing that is likely generally applicable to the creative arts as a whole.

This book is made of 12 short chapters that are around 135 pages total, and it is pretty clear that this book is written for people who want to get solid and practical advice without wasting a lot of time.  Topics covered in this book include ideas that sell, slanting one’s pitch to have greater focus, hooking the editor with good leads, using tantalizing descriptions, selling yourself through your bio, using shortcuts for research and interviewing, including self-addressed stamped envelopes with queries, querying agents and book publishers, avoiding certain downfalls and mistakes, using strategic submissions, learning from the anatomy of a winner, and power querying in order to develop a solid reputation.  This is a book written by someone who clearly has done a good job at writing for money and has worked as an agent and an editor as well.  This is a book that is focused on the business side of writing, not on the creative or artistic side.  Indeed, the author expects that writers will be able to command inspiration by keeping up their writing and by working to develop a certain niche as a writer, with the goal of building networks with those who can help a writer not have to write queries but rather receive them.

This is the sort of book that appeals to a writer with commercial interests.  If you happen to have them, this is a worthwhile book.  Obviously, the publishing business has changed a lot in the last three decades since this book was published.  The fads that the author attempts to ride are in some ways still in evidence in our own age concerning technology and love and relationships and health concerns and so on.  The real question is whether the author’s model for the author is still a viable one.  The decline of so many magazines and newspapers makes the author’s advice for writers to make money on editorials and other features a bit more dubious.  It is of little surprise that contemporary writers looking to encourage people to make money on writing either focus on writing newsletters for businesses or trying to monetize blogs or videos.  Nevertheless, even though the specific advice of the author isn’t really on point, the approach of the author is something that is of interest to me as a writer.  If one is compelled to write and writes for hours a day, why not try to make money off of it?  That’s a sentiment I can definitely get behind.

[1] See, for example:

About nathanalbright

I'm a person with diverse interests who loves to read. If you want to know something about me, just ask.
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One Response to Book Review: How To Write Irresistible Query Letters

  1. Pingback: Book Review: Letters To An Atheist | Edge Induced Cohesion

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