Thursday, March 25, 2010

Queries Part Two

We've been talking about writing this week, so I thought I'd add my two-cents to Angie's comments about hooking an agent or editor.

First let me pass along a little information that I learned a few years ago. I was writing an article for CRIMESPREE Magazine and I needed to know approximately how many queries agents receive, so I asked my agent. Care to guess what her answer was??? Over 300 a WEEK...not a month, not a year, but a week! So when Angie said that you need to stand out from the crowd, she wasn't kidding!!

Unless you're lucky enough to trap an agent or an editor in an elevator, where there's no escape and they have to listen to you, most likely your query is going to be written. (more about this later on.) I figure you've got about as long as it takes for that agent to read the first sentence to make an impression.

So how do you do that? Again, Angie was right, simplicity is important...direct and to the point. (Remember they have 299 others to read.) But I also think tone is important. Is your book lighthearted, heavy on the humor? Or is it more serious? Whichever it is, you want your query to convey that same kind of style. After WITCH WAY was written and I was ready to start sending out queries, I found a book that was very helpful-YOUR NOVEL: FROM CREATION TO CONTRACT by Blythe Camenson and Marshall J. Cook. It talks about setting the tone in great detail and explains it far better than I can.

One last tip on queries-how do you send them? Personally, I prefer email. After you've selected a list of potential agents, check out their websites and find out if they do accept emailed queries. (Another hint-read their submission guidelines closely and follow them to the letter. Also pick which agent would mostly likely be interested in your manuscript and address the query to them. Never, ever address one "to whom it may concern!") Why do I prefer email? Well, after querying approximately thirty-five agents, I found that if you do it by email, you're either going to hear back from them with a "yay or nay" within a week, or you won't hear from them at all. If the latter happens then you can move on to the next agency on your list. You don't spend a lot of time cooling your heels and wondering if they're interested. During this process, also remember that every "no" puts you that much closer to a "yes"! Don't get discouraged!!

Good luck to all you agent-seekers out there. Hope the above information helps!

Best,
Shirley

1 comment:

Jessi said...

That is some helpful advice. I am going to have to check out that book you suggested.