One of the most important elements of writing a query letter is addressing it to the proper publisher. Your query letter must demonstrate that you understand their business and that you’re going to be not just professional, but an absolute JOY to work with. I feel my next book will be a good candidate for Wiley & Sons, for a number of reasons. One of their imprints is the “For Dummies” series of books, and while my book doesn’t necessarily fall into that niche, it is of a similar-level reference type.
If you’re in the mood to write a query letter, the first step is finding the appropriate publisher for your book. Amazon can help you do this. Locate a book that is of similar subject matter. Look up the book on Amazon. Find where it lists the publisher — in the product information section. Next, go to the sub-menu bar at the top and click Advanced Search. Enter that publisher’s name into the “publisher” field, and choose “bestselling” from the criteria drop-down. Your search results will then show all the books from that publisher in order of their sales, top to bottom. Not only does this give you the power to discuss other books this publisher has published from a knowledgeable position, but it prevents you from drawing comparisons to poor selling titles. You want to draw similarities between your book and other books by that publisher that have sold well!
If you don’t like the title selections from this publisher, locate another book and start the process over again. The point is that you are able to reference titles by name in your query letter, and comment intelligently on those title’s sales numbers, at least as Amazon is concerned. In general, you can assume that if a traditionally published book is selling well on Amazon, it is probably selling relatively well offline also.