Tuesday, March 8, 2011

The Query Process

Hey guys -

Okay so at the convention last weekend, (sorry, just coming up for air) I had lots and lots of exposure to classes and panels all talking about the query process. Here's a few things they said - just thought I'd pass them on... You probably know most of these, but obviously someone didn't!!

1. Don't sent the letter to the agent from your character. They want the letter from you, the person they might be representing.

2. Don't make it more than a few paragraphs. You have the 1st paragraph to really get their attention.

3. Write the letter as a business letter, like you are addressing your CPA or a lawyer. Nothing cute or overly artistic - just get them with the theme (hook) of the book and they'll see your ability in the pages of the manuscript.

4. Format is as follows and was repeated over and over:
You're contact info

The hook (1-3 sentences (you're elevator pitch - the reach out and grab me), then your I'm looking for representation for my 91k dystopian YA novel. (Word count is important and if you are out o the normal range for word count - they trash you. 50-75k is the sweet spot. Also - you must tell them what genre your novel fits into. If you are unsure - ask your beta readers.

A paragraph or two (if you feel the need to expand the story idea (basically protagonist, antagonist and main theme of the story - don't get into your sub plots) ** IF you can get everything across in the first paragraph - kudos for you. The shorter the better.

Any of your accomplishment or publishing history - mostly for non-fiction.

** That's it folks.. I know they turned down a lot of queries because of corney/hokey words and lines in the opening - too many issues for the MC (death, divorce and cancer) and because the story wasn't different enough.

They are looking for those zinger words - so like "Mr. Johnston was a scary old man" needs to be "Creepy, morbidly obese Mr. Johnston was a vicious old man that would eat you alive and suck on your bones afterwards." ** Get it? Adjectives on those characters - it tells them alot in 1 or 2 words..

That's all my brain and fingers can take for the moment. I'll shoot something else in here in a little while!!


** Oh - I pitched Soul Keeper and she requested several chapters, which is a good thing - we shall see.



  1. YAY! Go you B-)

    As for the advice, very good stuff. I might start the query process this year *crosses fingers* Unless I discover that my book is utter rubbish and that I should strike up a career as a door-to-door rubberband saleswoman...

  2. That's great she wanted more of your chapters. I think going to a convention and meeting the agent in person helps.