1. Marinello, Michael MSN, RN, FNP-C (Assistant Professor)
  2. Hicks, Rodney W. PhD, RN, FNP-BC, FAANP, FAAN (Professor, Assistant Dean for Research and Administration)

Article Content

Authors invest significant amounts of time and effort in developing manuscripts. The amount of time involved in developing and submitting a scholarly work can be lengthy, even in the digital age. Once submitted to a peer-reviewed journal, the process of review followed by the editor's final decision extends the timeline. Should the editor accept the manuscript, revision and resubmission consume even more time. Should the editor reject the manuscript, not only is there disappointment, but the time and effort may feel wasted. One approach to reducing the time involved in pursuing publication is to make an early investment in a query letter or electronic inquiry. These inquiries are valuable for both the author and the editor in many ways and can reduce the time involved in attaining successful publication.


An electronic inquiry or query letter is a brief and concise correspondence between the author and the journal editor. The inquiry is often the first interaction between the two parties and establishes professional rapport. The process of an inquiry is straightforward and requires the author to follow professional etiquette. Journal mastheads, webpages, and journal guidelines explicitly identify the editor and contact information. Authors should address the inquiry directly to the editor-in-chief. Authors should address the editor by name, so the editor knows he/she is receiving an inquiry from an author who has been thoughtful in selecting the journal. Failing to identify the editor by name implies that the author is sending generic letters to multiple journals and is therefore not advisable.


Electronic communication is the standard in the digital age, replacing the physically printed and mailed query letter. A couple of items are noteworthy for electronic professional correspondence to maintain professional etiquette. The value of electronic communication rests in reducing the time between query and reply. The author's return email should be a professional email address and account. Because of digital security, spam filters can capture email from less than trustworthy domains, including some private emails. The professional email address also enhances the impression of the author's legitimacy. The email body has ample space to create the inquiry. Authors should refrain from submitting attachments to emails. Also, editors discourage authors from submitting the entire manuscript ahead of the editor's response.


JAANP has received inquiries where authors have attached whole dissertations and scholarly projects with a request to review and determine whether the content is suitable. Submissions of this nature are overwhelming, and editors are likely to decline such a request because it is the author's responsibility to "sell" the topic. Once drafted, the author can submit a tailored inquiry to multiple editors. However, an author should carefully choose journals that are the best fit for the manuscript and as mentioned above, avoid sending multiple duplicate queries in an unselective manner. Authors should never submit the manuscript itself to more than one journal at a time (Saver, 2016). If an author receives numerous invitations to submit the manuscript in response to the inquiry, the author must select one and only one journal to pursue publication. Authors should exercise professional courtesy in notifying the other editor(s) of the decision.


Synthesizing the components of an effective inquiry need not be difficult. Unless the editor is personally known, begin the letter with a self-introduction. This introduction establishes the author's professional and, sometimes, academic qualifications. Editors desire to have experts share knowledge and content. The conveyance of expertise furthers the rapport and helps instill a sense of competency. The editor needs to know that the author has the ability and experience to meaningfully write on the topic.


Editors should easily detect the purpose of the inquiry. Following the introduction, helpful information for the editor includes the status of the scholarly work. This is the point where the author may be proposing a topic for consideration. Alternatively, this is the point where the author has already developed the manuscript and is vetting alignment between the manuscript and journal. Editors need to know this information for planning purposes. Editors often group similar content in an issue to maximize impact, so this information can help visualize how and when to publish the manuscript.


Before drafting the inquiry, the author should review JAANP Instructions for Authors. Such a review ensures that the author understands the scope and journal audience. JAANP publishes research manuscripts, quality improvement results, systematic reviews, health policy analyses, and some case studies and columns (Journal of the American Association of Nurse Practitioners, n.d.). The author bears the responsibility of making the link between the manuscript content and its value to the readership. The author, in accordance with the Instructions for Authors, must disclose how the proposed manuscript aligns with journal content. Authors who put forth a topic outside the interest, or without linkages to the target audience, are less likely to receive a favorable response.


An author's inquiry should include the working title of the proposed scholarly work. The working title represents a concise description of what the author did and what the author found. The APA style manual offers suggestions on how to create effective titles (American Psychological Association, 2009). Authors should not overgeneralize the findings when communicating. An author can submit an abstract as part of the process if developed. Attention to detail helps to instill confidence that the author possesses the necessary abilities to complete a successful manuscript. The inquiry should not suggest peer reviewers. Such a suggestion, if offered, would come during the submission of the manuscript.


When closing the inquiry, authors should provide full contact information. The conclusion of a query letter should have detailed information regarding the timeline of completion for the manuscript (Saver, 2016). The author should thank the editor for taking the time to review the inquiry.


Editors do respond to electronic inquiries. Editors can respond with either a decline, request for more information, or request for submission. An editor may decline your topic/manuscript for multiple reasons. The reasons include that the content was not of interest to the audience. If this is the case, the author can select another journal editor. Also, the journal may have previously published similar content. Authors can preemptively review the journal's 1-year publishing history to determine similarities to published works. Another reason pertains to writing style. Editors may decline the inquiry if multiple syntax errors or a lack of clarity exist.


Editors value impactful topics. The editor would more favorably consider the topic when the content is a new or novel approach to a phenomenon. Content easily obtained in a text book or that is otherwise common knowledge is not new or novel. A favorable response by the editor to an inquiry does not by any means guarantee publication. A formal manuscript must endure a peer review (Steefel & Saver, 2016).


In summary, both the author and the editor derive value from the electronic inquiry. Through an inquiry of 4-6 paragraphs, the author achieves an introduction, foreshadows the importance of the work, demonstrates alignment of the work with the journal's scope, positions the work in context of the journal's audience, and demonstrates the ability to complete the work. The editor's 1-2 paragraph decision and response reduce time in limbo for the author. Both parties use professional etiquette in correspondence. JAANP gladly accepts electronic inquiries from prospective authors.




American Psychological Association. (2009). Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association (6th ed.). Washington, DC: Author. [Context Link]


Journal of the American Association of Nurse Pracitioners. (n.d.). Instructions for authors. Retrieved from [Context Link]


Saver C. (2016). Effective queries can save authors time and money. Nurse Editor and Author, 26, 4. [Context Link]


Steefel L., Saver C. (2017, June 15). From capstone project to published article. Retrieved from [Context Link]