Yesterday, an aspiring writer (aren't we all?) asked me about my query letter that got the attention of the kind folks at Second Wind Publishing. It wasn't really the beginning of my attempts to get my manuscript out into the light of day, which included more than a few dozen "no thank you" form letters from agents and publishing houses. Trial and error in approaching them and a bit of researching over many years led me to query Second Wind -- a small publisher who seeks to publish works not discovered by other publishers (hence, giving a work a second chance or a second wind).
I chose the "dive into the story first, then tell about my writing credentials later" approach. I suspect there are publishers, editors, and agents out there who are as crazy busy as the rest of us, so I tried to grab what little attention I might get with a strong one-sentence hook. (And I followed directions regarding submission requirements.)
Writing credentials are helpful if they relate to the story you're pushing, but a passion for the story is even more important, I believe. My "little" story is one that I believed in sharing. Sure, I've written over 500 feature articles in magazines and the like, but perhaps the notion that I enjoy history, coastal settings, and anything related to boats may have come into play. Are you passionate about your story? You better be -- you'll be selling it once it is published!
(My little story, by the way, is a historical maritime fiction. I'll tell you more about it as it gets through the publishing process and we get to know each other, okay?)