As many of you know, I’m a fan of visual aids. I’ve also been thinking a lot about the querying process lately. There are a lot of things that just seem like common sense to me, but apparently they aren’t judging from the times agents say, “Please don’t do this.”
Don’t stalk agents. There’s a difference between doing your research so you know what they are looking for and being that creepy stalker everyone is trying to avoid.
Agents don’t expect you to query one agent at a time, but at least pretend they are the only one for you. Don’t cc every agent name listed in the known universe.
Address your query correctly. That means SnuggleBug, Best Agent in the World and Hot Stuff are out. It’s also good if you do enough research to know if the agent you’re querying is a male or female.
If you can’t tell by their picture, then do a little more research.
Ok, not that much research.
Just do some reading. Credible resources saying “she” just sold xyz should be an indication Ms. Awesomesauce is appropriate. (If Awesomesauce is her last name.)
Find out what they represent. If they don’t represent horror catbooks, it’s a good idea not to send them Psychotic Psombies Kitty Window Washers.
It’s also a good idea to make sure your information is current. Agent X may have been accepting romantic epic fantasy mysteries last year, but this year they only virgin vampire convent stories. Also, if an agent died ten years ago, they are probably not accepting queries. At least not from you.
You need a hook.
No, not that kind. Quick, what’s your book about in one line?
Wrong kind of line. Pretend you’re on an elevator with your dream agent and they ask you what your book is about. What are you going to do? No, you can’t hit the stop button to trap the agent.
Now, you have 250 words to hook the agent on your story. Seems simple enough, but it is scary.
Remember, you are competing with thousands of other writers who also think it’s simple. You spent months or years writing your masterpiece. Don’t slight this step. You have one chance to make a good first impression.
A brief bio. If you haven’t done anything that helps your cause, just leave this off. Your writing is going to sell your novel.
Don’t promise the agent your going to make them rich and famous. They’ve heard it before.
Don’t send them gifts, including homemade anything, flour in a cup, oat bars in a cup, coffee in a cup (it will be cold by the time it gets there anyway) or pictures of your boobs out of the cups.
Include your contact information.
Don’t include attachments. They aren’t going to open them. Include whatever you are sending in the body of the email.
If you are snail mailing, include your email so they can respond via email if they wish or a SASE.
Follow their submission guidelines. Each agent is different and needs to be approached individually. One submission guideline does not fit all.