Recently, I talked about the process between starting your manuscript, and bringing it to the stage where it’s ready for sending off to agents. On Friday I introduced the query letter, that dimpled darling of the publishing world. If you’re not sure what a query letter is, check out Friday’s post here.
My next blog post will go into more details about writing the query letter, but there are a few things to do before you start writing your query letter:
1. First, find possible agents. There are several websites (such as QueryTracker and AgentQuery) which will help you with this. Some charge for their services, some don’t.
2. Second, decide which agents you are going to query. Your target agent should:
- Be open to receiving new queries (some have full client books and aren’t looking for any new authors)
- Represent the genre you have written (remember when I talked about genre?)
- Be a good “fit” for you. You will need to do a little research before you can decide this. Usually the agent will have some information about him or herself on the agency website. If the agent has a blog, read it.
- Not be a scammer. You don’t want your precious manuscript falling into the wrong hands, so check Preditors and Editors, Writer Beware's "Thumbs Down Agency List", and Absolute Write’s Bewares and Background Checks for more information.
3. Make a list of your favourite agents, starting with the ones you’d most like to work with. You will query these agents first (so you’ll want to make sure your query is as perfect as it can be right from the word "go").
4. Check the agent’s guidelines. These might specify that you need to include sample pages, a synopsis, or just the query letter itself. Send exactly what the agent wants. If you ignore these guidelines, the agent may simply not even read your query.
Doing this will prepare you for the final step, which is:
5. Send a personalised and brilliant query letter.
So, how do you write a personalised and brilliant query letter? I’ll be dissecting The Ideal Query Letter (and other myths) in my next post... Stay tuned xxx