Querying an Agent

queryNow that I have completed my MG fantasy novel, Sword of Fate, I have embarked on the next step of the writer’s journey. If you desire to have your work published someday and like me, are choosing the traditional route to publishing, an agent can be an invaluable part of the process. A savvy agent can represent you and get you out from under the mile-high slush piles that publishing houses are known for. Of course, your responsibility is to have produced a work that is worthy of being published, and that can be highly subjective. Different agents will have differing opinions regarding your work and whether or not they can be of service. I have spent countless hours researching the process and reading numerous variations on the perfect query letter. Through this, I have reached two conclusions:

  1. You have come up with a name, either through a google search or querytracker. You can’t stop there – you need to research what that particular agent is looking for. This is in respect to both the writing genres they represent, and how they want things done. Sending an MG fantasy novel to an agent that is actively seeking nonfiction on how to garden is just not a good idea…just as sending a complete manuscript as an attachment when they request a one-page query letter and the first ten pages in the body of the email, won’t earn you any points and will most likely result in your email being deleted without a look. If I was on the other side of the fence, I would expect professionalism: to me a good part of that means taking some time to understand who you are querying and to see if it makes sense to do so.
  2. Don’t mask who you are in the query letter. If an agent offers to represent you, not only do they believe in your work, but as far as I can tell, they are looking for an author they can believe in, to form a partnership with in this endeavor we call writing. I have had some angst in what to include and what not to include when I write a query letter. I have settled on a balance of specifically responding to what the agent requests, while letting some of my own personality leak through. I can’t tell you if this is an effective method or not since I am just starting out – but it is an honest one, so I figure I can’t be too far off base.

For all of my fellow writers out there: May your queries one day soon stir the interest of an agent that results in a long and mutually beneficial relationship. Cheers!

[image courtesy of renjith krishnan at FreeDigitalPhotos.net]

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