Querying TipsJuly 3, 2009 at 7:12 PM | Posted in Uncategorized | 4 Comments
It occured to me a few nights ago that young writers might come along here for tips on how to query their book once it’s written. So, this post is going to be tips, based on my own personal experience, on how to query and what helps get you requests.
1) Make sure your book is finished. I say this because one thing mostly all agents agree on is that they want to see a complete manuscript. Not one you’re half way through. Don’t bother querying if your work isn’t complete. What if they request the full manuscript the next day? You’re going to have to stall until you rush through the rest, which will show in your work.
2) Do your homework. Another complaint I see a lot from agents is when they recieve queries from writers who clearly haven’t done their research. If you’ve written an epic fantasy, there is no point sending it to an agent who doesn’t represent it. Check out websites, Publisher Marketplace pages, QueryTracker, Agent Query etc for agents who’ll best suit you.
3) Craft the best query letter you can. This is probably one of the hardest parts. The query letter has to sell your book and yourself to an agent. It has to make them want to find out more about you and your work. There are hundreds of websites dedicated to helping, which you can find by Googling. Once you’ve read up on how to draft a query letter, write one and post it up for critique. I’d suggest going over to Absolute Write to do this. You get a lot of helpful advice there.
4) Be professional. Publishing is a business first and foremost. An agent isn’t going to want to work with someone who is a nightmare. Be polite when requesting an agent read your work. Be polite when you get a response. And try and remember that you are working towards gaining a business relationship with someone. Don’t talk to an agent as if they’re your best friend until you actually know them. Keep it professional and polite.
5) Be patient. Querying has improved my patience so much. I’ve received responses to query letters nearly a year after sending them. Agencies get busy, and you have to wait until they get to you. It may be a while, and some agencies have a no response policy if they’re not interested.
6) Be respectful. An agent isn’t out there to hurt you on purpose. And you have to remember an agent is a person too. There are certain things you just don’t do. Don’t call an agency to check up on your query. Don’t email back abuse to rejection letters. Don’t send bribes. Don’t be creepy and go to their house. Don’t bombard them with progress emails. It’s fine to remind an agent they still have your work after the general time span of two months. But don’t be a pest. Agents do have clients that come first.
7) Overall: Be prepared. You have to be prepared for anything. The quest to finding an agent is a rocky one. It’s filled with happiness, disappointment, anger, despair, and sheer excitement. There will be nothing better than the letter, email, phonecall that has you working with an agent. And getting requests for your work is always a good feeling too. But rejection is hard to handle sometimes, especially when your hopes have been raised. Just don’t give up. Remember, anything worth having is always worth fighting for.
My next post will be on structuring a query letter. I hope this helps people! And remember, these are my opinions from the experiences I have gained.