More query quirks plus…

Spring is in the air, and so are the queries.

A few tips for getting your query out of the slush pile and into your preferred agent’s hands:

  1. Research, research, research. Make sure the agent is a good fit. Use multiple sources – market books, agency websites, query websites, social media. As much as you can find.
  2. Just saying “I found you in Writer’s Digest” doesn’t cut it. Unless you have strong reasons* for mentioning why you’re querying this agent, skip the “we should be a good fit” part & just cut to the query.
  3. Brevity is your friend. Your query should showcase your writing. As I’ve said before, if you have to explain too much, you’re not ready.
  4. Mind your manners. Please use a greeting, the agent’s name (correctly spelled!), a closing, and your name in your query letter.
  5. Follow directions. If we ask for 5 pages, and you’ve 0 pages, does that mean your query won’t make it out of the slush pile? No. But it would have to be one heck of a query. And I can assure you, most don’t meet that standard. Give us what we ask for – no more, no less. And no attachments unless we say so!

*Strong reasons = prior contact with an agent at a conference, workshop, mixer, etc. OR responding to a specific tweet or post OR a request from, say, #PitMad or the like. Not a strong reason? “You’re looking for [picture books].”

(That should be the least common denominator. Now, say, “You’re looking for wordless picture books that bring the relationship between children and their toys to life” – that’s a strong reason.)

Good luck and keep the queries coming! It keeps me employed. 🙂

And in case you find yourself on the Upper West Side and want a literary pick-me-up, Columbia University’s Kemper Gallery at the Rare Book & Manuscript Library is hosting an exhibition celebrating the 200th anniversary of HarperCollins. I’m adding it to my list of must-sees this spring!




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