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:
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- Mind your manners. Please use a greeting, the agent’s name (correctly spelled!), a closing, and your name in your query letter.
- 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!