As mentioned earlier, I am in the process of querying for my third thriller, “Let The Dead Stay Dead.” As always it has been a hugely educative experience. I had the opportunity to see many interesting websites and blogs of literary agents and was totally lost in the wealth of knowledge and perspectives found there. This is by no means a comprehensive list. I am only mentioning top of the mind a few points that have stayed with me.
- Book publishing, in case anyone needs to be reminded about this vital point, is a business. No one does it because they love the way you write. They publish because they believe many others will think the same way and buy your book in large numbers and in different formats.
- The art of writing a query, I would use the term crafting really, is not easy to master. Busy agents prefer to see the query in one page. That’s it. This means you need to condense in an interesting and captivating way all that your story is about, be it 100 or even 400 pages in length.
- Query those who represent books of the genre in which you have written the book. There’s no point sending a query for a murder mystery to someone who specializes in nonfiction in general and cookbooks in particular. To use an old adage, the only thing cooked will be your goose:)
- Never query till your manuscript is fully complete.
- Research the agents before you query them: What kind of books do they represent? Who are their clients? Any authors who write in the same genre as you do? What are they actively looking for? You may be surprised many of them actually spell these out in their blogs/websites.
- Pay attention and a lot of it to detail. Don’t do what suits you. Do as they ask you to do. What do they expect and accept) with the query? Just the query? A few pages? A synopsis? A chapter?
- Building on the last point, make sure you follow their advice on how they want to see your submission. I see these days ( because of the viruses floating around) that most prefer to have material pasted in the main body of the emailed query rather than have it as an attachment. Don’t take my word for this, some do want it as an attachment.
- Most agents and agencies, thank God, are more willing to see emailed queries than in the past. This saves you the time and energy in printing and mailing the query, besides conserving paper and other resources, helping the environment and so on.
As you can see, querying is a huge a subject in itself.
If you can write a query that hooks an agent into asking for more material, brighter are the chances of your book seeing the light of day. If you can’t write an effective query, then let’s face it. You need to hone your writing skills.