This may sound like a stupid question, but how do you query a short story without giving the whole story away? Or is the query just to introduce yourself to the editor by giving him your qualifications?
Querying an editor prior to submitting a short story isn't common practice. The few times I've done it have involved one of two situations.1. An editor contacts me requesting a submission, but asks that I provide a brief overview (synopsis/tagline/whatever) before submitting to ensure that my story doesn't duplicate something he's already accepted.For example, say an editor contacts me about an anthology of horror stories set in Alaska. I figure you already submitted a vampire-in-Alaska story 'cause I keep tabs on your blog, so I go with my second idea and tell him:"Bloody White Fang," my homage to Jack London, is the story of a wild werewolf's journey toward becoming civilized in turn-of-the-previous-century Alaska.2. I see an open call for submissions for a themed anthology with a query-first requirement and the editor is unlikely to know who I am.In this case I might start with the same info, but add a bit more:"Bloody White Fang," my 5,000-word homage to Jack London, is the story of a wild werewolf's journey toward becoming civilized in turn-of-the-previous-century Alaska as he encounters humans for the first time and leaves his pack in the wild.I am the author of several hundred short stories, including horror stories published in Hot Blood: Strange Bedfellows, Northern Horror, Midnight, Weirdbook, and many other anthologies and periodicals.I bookend either version with an an appropriate greeting and closing, include all contact information and send it off.(Note, though, that the editor may have additional requirements spelled out in the call for submissions. In the case of the story I just sold, the editor asked that the first five paragraphs of the story be included in the query.)
Thanks, Michael. I've run across several zines this past year that wanted queries first and it seemed a strange way to judge a story without reading it. I'd seen breakdowns for querying novels but if you do that sort of indepth for a short you're giving it all away.
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