Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Tuesday Tip: Queries- Part 1

I know how often authors struggle with the dreaded query and I am no exception. Not even in the tiniest bit. I wish I was. I wish I knew how to craft the perfect letter. But I don't.

I do know some dos and don't though. And as I wrote this, I realized how long the post was and decided to break it up into two! Be sure to stop by next Tuesday for part 2!

#1: Don't query too early. I have definitely done this. I was so green back then. I thought my first book was awesome and I felt so accomplished just having written it. I had no writer friends back then, only the opinions of my five closest girlfriends (who, of course, loved it!) I hadn't taken a grammar class in many many years. Looking back now, I can see how horrid that story was. But I didn't know it at the time. I sent the query out and luckily one agent gave me some honest feedback, telling me I was not ready to query at all. I was a little taken back at the time, but so grateful later on when I realized she was so so right. Don't query until you've gotten lots of honest critique on the book...not just friends who've adored it. Join a writer's group, online or in real life, put in your time by critiquing other's work and learning from it. Be very well read in your genre so you're aware of the cliches and can avoid them. You have to know what's already been done. I truly feel no story is completely original, but you need to make sure your book has a different take.

#2: When you're finally ready, do your research. Visit every agent's blog. Never rely on info on Publisher's Marketplace, Agent Query, or any other place ACCEPT the actual agent's website. The info can be outdated or just plain wrong. And check their background too. My favorite site is Predators and Editors. They're all listed alphabetically. Just because an agent looks professional online does not mean a thing. There are plenty of bad agents out there.

#3: Follow their guidelines to the tee! There's nothing more aggravating than having instructions written out in plain English and receiving everything else under the sun. Why turn them off before they've even read your blurb?

#4: Don't be gimicky. Just tell them what your story is about. Hook them. Don't try to be funny or witty or play games. Show your voice, yes, but don't be weird.

#5: Be professional. It's a business letter and should be treated as such. These agents are not your friend or even an acquaintance. A simple "Dear Ms. Smith" is appropriate. They are professionals and deserve respect. Get their name correct, get their gender correct.

Okay, that's it for now! Stop back next week for the rest!!


  1. Great advice... this is a really tough topic to address

  2. Thank you so much for covering these! As a person who has been on both ends of queries, I can tell you--every one of your points is critical. (If I had to name one as the most important, though, it'd be #1. Hands down.)

    You rock, girl.

  3. Queries are such a pain! Especially for one who hasn't had a successful one...yet. You have some very nice advice here. Thanks for sharing:)

  4. Great tips. I love "don't be weird"!!! :) And definitely don't query before you're ready.


  5. LOL! Weird people scare me...last thing I want to do is scare an agent!