Dos and Don'ts of Queries

August 4, 2018

This summer our agency got a lot of queries and submissions. Literally thousands. We saw some good, some bad, and some that needed a lot of work. 

 

Ready to submit to an agent yourself. Double check to see if you're doing and avoiding the following:

 

FIRST SOME DEFINITIONS!!!!

 

What is a Query? A one-page letter that introduces the story idea and yourself to the agent or publisher.

 

What is a Proposal? A packet of materials that gives the agent/publisher all the information he/she needs to know about the book such as marketing plan, comparable titles, and author platform.

 

Dos

  • Do you research on the agent/publisher, some have specific guidelines.

    • We have a secret code we use in our videos to know if you're reading up on us. 

  • Keep the query to one page and keep the proposal as tight as possible.

  • Use spell check and check your grammar before submitting.

    • We’ve had submissions addressed to “Cycle.” instead of Cyle. 

 

  • Show your query to Beta readers or writer friends beforehand. They can help you hone it to be in the best possible shape it can be.

  • Provide all the information you can about how your platform is tied to the book. Even small avenues still count as avenues

  • Lots of research about which books are similar to yours, especially if they are recent titles that have done well in the market. At least three titles.

    • ​Please don't make Harry Potter or Lord of the Rings one of these!

 

Don’ts

  • Address the query to “Dear Sir/Madam”

  • Send a genre the agent or publisher doesn’t accept.

  • Write a love letter to the agent.

    • Trust us, we’ve gotten more than one of these.

  • Send a proposal unless asked to do so. 

  • Send multiple emails.

    • Many will have nudge times such as 6-8 weeks

    • They already get hundreds of emails a day

  • Attach every agent and his or her brother in the email. If they see 200 recipients, they will delete.

  • Say “What is platform?” or try to degrade your platform.

  • On the flipside, don’t be too arrogant

    • Agencies and houses know you’ve worked hard to get where you are, but don’t act like they are doing favors by taking you on. They want it to be a partnership for a long time, not a King-Vassal sort of relationship.

  • And above all else … don’t compare your book to Harry Potter

    • ​...please

 

 

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