Posted by: Kathy Temean | May 11, 2017

Query Letters: Benefit of Publisher’s Catalogues

Query Letters That Worked

by Liza Dawson

Before you get started on the first of fifty drafts of your cover letter, I urge you to look at publishers’ catalogues (which are issued about four months before a book is published and are used by sales reps to pitch their company’s titles to booksellers). Hachette makes those and all their various imprints available online.

I’ve seen a lot of query letters that worked by adopting this method. Generally, each book gets a page in the publisher’s catalogue, and all houses use the same general formula/template: The first sentence is the hook or the handle or the one-minute elevator pitch. The next paragraph highlights the story itself. The third paragraph describes the book’s competition, its comparable books. The fourth paragraph tells you about the author and her credentials. Off to the sides of the main text, you’ll generally see quotes or reviews.

Draft your query letter as if it’s catalogue copy.  Of course the letter will sound clunky and artificial at first, but you’ll be able to smooth it out.

If you’re not getting agent responses to your current query letter, try this approach. I think it will work.


Liza established Liza Dawson Associates following a successful 20-year career in book publishing, including posts as executive editor of Putnam Publishing and executive editor at William Morrow. She received her B.A. in history from Duke University and is a graduate of the Radcliffe Publishing Procedures course.

Below is a sample of from Little, Brown & Co’s Catalogue.

Talk tomorrow,



  1. Thank you for this very interesting and useful aricle and link, Liza! I found lots of marketing ideas for my soon to be published picture book 😉


  2. This is EXcellent and appreciated advice. Thank you, Liza (and Kathy)! 😀


  3. Wonderful advice…thank you so much!


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