I got these questions recently and thought it might be worth publishing my answers in case someone else had the same questions. While these little details may seem trite to some, when I was starting out I often wondered about them myself. And because they are such “minor” details it was next to impossible to find the answers.

I’ve written many posts on screenplay query letters and the person who asked these questions had just read my post How to write a professional query letter for your screenplay. If you haven’t read it you should check it out as this post won’t make as much sense if you haven’t already read it.

1) When you say use the footer and header on Word, are you saying create letter head? Or are you just saying name at top, phone number and email at the bottom?

When I create query letters I use MS Word’s header and footer feature. In MS Word 2007 you click on the “Insert” tab and then click on the “Header” button to create the header and the “Footer” button to create a footer. I usually use a slightly stylish although very readable font for the header and footer, too, just to differentiate it from the rest of the letter. This looks very professional.

2) What type of paper should I use? White? Just plain old computer paper?

Use normal plain old computer printer paper. Anything special or fancy will look amateurish.

3) What about envelopes? Plain white envelopes that I would use to send a regular letter?

Use plain old normal cheap white envelopes. You’re sending them a professional business letter, you’re not inviting them to your wedding. Again, Anything special or fancy will look amateurish.

4) For postage, should I just use stamps, or take it to the post office and have it printed on the envelope?

I usually stick a normal stamp on the envelope. One thing that should be avoided is making the letter look like a mass mailing. I think getting postage stamped on the envelope might make it look a bit like a mass mailing. With the kind of volume I’ve done with query letters I could probably get a bulk rate but I’ve always felt like that would really make the letter reek “mass mailing” so I’ve never done it.

5) What do you put in the header and what do you put in the footer?

You put your name in the header and your address, phone number, and email address in the footer.

My header is this: Ashley Scott Meyers

My footer is this (with real information): 1111 My Address, My City, My State, My Zip | 111-222-3333 | myemail@email.com

6) Do you know of a site that has the proper format for a synopsis?

There is no exact format for a synopsis that I know of but it should be single spaced for sure and paragraphs should have a double space between them with no indenting. This is how I’ve always done it.

2 thoughts on “A few small tips on writing query letters”
  1. Hi,

    I’m an aspiring screenwriter from Australia, and I am not able to send my query letter out because I cannot put Australian stamps on the SASE. We do have reply paid coupons but they aren’t suitable for agencies.
    Any ideas???
    Please help!

    1. I wouldn’t bother with a SASE. Just make sure you have an email address clearly listed in your query letter so they can contact you via email. You might also think about getting a local Los Angeles voice mail box and using that as the contact phone number in your query letter.

      In fact if I didn’t live in the United States I probably wouldn’t bother with regular mail at all and I would just submit query letters through email and fax. I’ve used a service called FlatRateFax.com to do fax blasts and it’s cheap and easy.

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