Today’s guest post comes from Lindsay Cummings. Lindsay is a 20-yr-old YA author of all things Science Fiction, dark, and twisted. Her YA scifi, THE MURDER COMPLEX, is currently on submission with publishers. Lindsay lives with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, and is represented by agent Louise Fury at the L. Perkins Agency.
Take it away Lindsay!
I have seen a lot of queries that make my eyes glaze over. They are too long. Too descriptive. Too wordy. Too “please, PLEASE represent me because of said reason…”
Those writing these queries…You have to STOP!
Here’s a few tips that can help you write the ultimate query letter, maybe even snag a few agent requests, if you do it right! 🙂 I met my agent at a writer’s conference, however, I still had to query her to get that full request! This is a super important step, and a very necessary one, in the process to publication.
Don’t be scared to query. If you do it right, it can actually be a super exciting time!!
1- DO YOUR RESEARCH
- Agents are people. They like to be addressed as people. Do your research before you query them. I suggest QueryTracker or Publis
her’s Marketplace.These are great resources for finding which genres agents represent, as well as links to their agency’s web pages.
- Know your genre. Know it well. Find agents that represent it. Query them, and only them.
- FOLLOW THE AGENT’S INDIVIDUAL SUBMISSION GUIDELINES. PLEASE! 🙂
- Do not address your letter to “Dear agent.” This shows you have NOT done said research, which does not look good on your part. That will land you in the immediate form rejection pile with most agents.
- Personalize your letter! They want to feel like you’ve spent time taking an interest in them, their work, etc. It’s okay to say “I saw you represent so-and-so’s work. You may be a good fit for my project, which seems like a good fit for your tastes.”
- Always include your contact information at the bottom of the letter. It’s also a great idea to add links to your blogs/websites if they show you have a good following! This can help show you have worked to build your author platform!
2- KEEP IT SHORT AND SWEET
- This is your shot. You want an agent to open up your letter and be WOWED by it! A query letter should show that you can write, that you know your project well, and that you are passionate about it!
- Write your query in the same tone of your manuscript. If you write with quirky humor, then write your query with quirky humor. If you write with terrible grammar, then write it with terrible….just kidding. 😉
- Keep it to a few short paragraphs. Nathan Bransford suggests 250-350 words.
- OPEN with your HOOK! What makes your manuscript stand out? What makes it ‘special’ in today’s overcrowded market? (especially for those writing YA). You want your concept to pop, to stand out in the slush pile. Some agents literally receive hundreds of queries a week, maybe even in a day, so you want to be the one that gets pulled from that slush pile!
- Make sure you give the plot details, especially the main issue of the book, but don’t give everything away! You want to leave the agent feeling like they MUST see this manuscript. You want them to request pages, heck, maybe even a full! Gasp!
Always, ALWAYS be respectful. If you receive a rejection, let it roll off of your shoulders. Keep your chin up, and move on. You want someone to fall in love with it.
If you receive a request for pages, celebrate that victory, even if it does not ultimately lead to representation! You are one step closer to finding representation, and seeing your books on the shelves someday!