Tag Archives: Authors

Tips for the authors: How to make a query letter work in your favor.

Despite some popular beliefs, the only purpose of the query letter is to convey information. Query letters are not writing samples (even though any typos of errors in the query letter can speak volumes against you). They are not a place to be witty, or tell your life story and your world views. They are designed for only one purpose, to tell the publisher the following important things:

(1) the basic information about your novel (name, genre/subgenre, and word count), as well as, hopefully, the assurance that it has been completed and available.

(2) a concise summary of the plot, or enough information to give a basic idea on what this book is about. One paragraph is better than two, “concise” is the key word.

(3) your publishing credentials, if any.

(4) the reason you are querying this particular publisher, if any.

(5) the assurance that this submission is exclusive to this publisher — or, if the guidelines permit it, the information that it may be simultaneously considered by someone else.

Within these parameters, the shorter you can make it, the better. Literally.

Clearly, a good query letter will not sell your novel. But it will gain you the benefit of the doubt and will probably make the editor approach your submission much more favorably than they would otherwise.

Here are the five most common elements of the query letter that were definitely held against the authors during our consideration process:

1. “As a child, I have always wondered if…” — Yawn. We don’t have time to learn anyone’s childhood story, not unless we are publishing the book and this information is highly relevant to our marketing plan. At this point the submissions editor will skim to the end of the letter to look for credentials, and then to the sample chapter, briefly, with the expectation that the writing will be bad.

2. “My book is not about…” –yes, seriously. Some people do start their query this way. Usually this is followed by a rant that could be several paragraphs long. The query letter is the place where one should focus on the specifics of the book, ignoring the temptation of making the letter long just because there are no visible page breaks in the e-mail window.

3. “Have you ever thought of…” — No. Well, maybe we have thought of that, but we don’t want to think about it while reading query letters.

4. “The reason I am not published is…” — Being unpublished is nothing to be ashamed of. There could be many reasons, and in case of very good authors out there all these reasons are heart-breaking. The truth is, this has nothing to do with our consideration of this particular novel and thus has no place in the query letter.

5. “Imagine yourself on a spaceship/in a jungle/on a boat, etc.” — We do, usually when we read something we enjoy that is relevant to any of these places. Query letters don’t fall into this category.

Well, this list can go on, really. But each of these examples invariably has to do with information that has no place in the query letter, simply because it is not directly relevant to your submission. If you are not sure what to write, stick to the bare basics and let your novel speak for itself.

Chances are, these basic rules apply to querying most publishers, even if some individual submissions editors may have preferences not covered in our list of bare essentials. Chances are, if they do have such preferences, these preferences will be covered in their submission guidelines. Barring that, we suggest you stick to the basics and avoid the temptation to elaborate.

Happy querying!

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Readercon 2014

Dragonwell Publishing got great exposure at Readercon this year, with the author W. B. J. Williams attending multiple panels and doing a reading from his debut novel “The Garden at the Roof of the World”. The convention took place in Burlington, MA on July 10-13, 2014. Also in attendance was the author Anna Kashina, presenting her newest epic fantasy novel, “Blades of the Old Empire”.

Here are some pictures from the event:

W. B. J. Williams reading from “The Garden at the Roof of the World”:



W. B. J. Williams with co-panelists:



Dragonwell Publishing books in the dealers’ room:



Anna Kashina’s “Blades of the Old Empire”:



Our next destination is World Fantasy Convention in November.

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MISTRESS OF THE SOLSTICE by Anna Kashina a silver medalist in 2014 Independent Publisher Book Awards

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Partial results were announced last night, and we were all thrilled to find Anna Kashina’s “Mistress of the Solstice” among the winners. For the current list of winners see: http://www.independentpublisher.com/article.php?page=1791&urltitle=2014%20Independent%20Publisher%20Book%20Awards%20Results

“Mistress of the Solsice” has received high praise from many venues, including Publishers Weekly and ForeWord Reviews, which characterized her book as “a superior fantasy novel with a strong flavor of romance and myth”. This dark romantic fantasy based on Russian folklore is centered about the gruesome Solstice rites that were practiced in Russia before Christianity and brings to life many creatures of the Slavic myths.

This year, Anna is celebrating the release of two installments in her action-packed Majat Code series from Angry Robot Books, UK. Book 1, “Blades of the Old Empire” came out in February, and book 2, “The Guild of Assassins” will come out in August.

Congratulations to Anna!


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W. B. J. Williams talks about unicorns, religion, and women in fantasy

Read this great interview with W. B. J. Williams talking about his historical romantic fantasy “The Garden at the Roof of the World”, a spiritual quest of maiden Gwenaella, the unicorn Britomar, and their companions across the world.

Follow this link to the interview:


And this link to buy the book on Amazon:


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THE LOATHLY LADY reviewed by San Francisco Book Review

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The reviewer Heather Clawson writes:

“From the first chapter The Loathly Lady practically leaps off the page and comes to life in rich detail full of different customs, nationalities, and slang. Lawson uses the loathly lady medieval archetype perfectly to craft a story of magic, transformation, and ultimate betrayal… The tale unfolds in an engaging and surprising manner. This is a definite read for any fantasy fan.”

Check out this great review of John Lawson’s THE LOATHLY LADY, just out from San Francisco Book Review at this link:



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THE GODDESS OF DANCE by Anna Kashina wins the ForeWord Book of the Year Award silver medal in the fantasy category!

Congratulations to Anna! Check the ForeWord award page at:


To order a copy, visit our bookstore, or buy one at any of the major book retailers.

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TALES OF LOVE AND MAGIC include 10 great fantasies with elements of romance, discounted to 99 cents for the next 3 days. These titles include 3 favorites from Dragonwell Publishing, THE PRINCESS OF DHAGABAD, THE CHOCOLATIER’S WIFE, and ONCE UPON A CURSE. These, and the other titles on the list would make a great Valentine gift.

Check out the list at the Amazon web site:


Or go to the official web site for the promotion to see the full list of venues where the participating books are on sale for the next 3 days:


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