Thursday, July 22, 2010


I've been slacking when it comes to reading things of the published variety as of late. So reviews will, hopefully, resume on Monday.

So, now that it's 3:40 in the afternoon here and I haven't posted, I thought I'd talk about queries. Most of you will probably already know all of this, but maybe I can shed some light on something.


- Address the agent and try to get their name right. This won't kill your query but it certainly won't help you.
- Personalize your query. This goes with the previous one. Whether you're stating why you picked said agent to query or saying that you enjoyed a book they represent, it's nice to see a little something that shows your query isn't just copied and pasted and sent to a dozen other agents as is. SOME agents even like to know a little bit about you: do you breed iguanas? are your kids adopted? did your husband win a baking contest for city's largest cupcake?
- DO YOUR RESEARCH. I cannot stress this one enough. Don't look at the first site you see and then stop. Go to multiple sources. Double check things. Please don't query an agent who represents primarily fantasy and science fiction with women's fiction. It isn't hard to find out what an agent reps, so don't waste their time.
- Proof it before hitting send. Your query is important. It needs to be professional, which means it needs to look professional, and misspelling your own character's name does not look good.
- Send it to yourself or a friend first. This will let you know if anything is going to go wrong in your email. It's obnoxious and kind of awkward when your &s and your "s get turned into some really funky symbols in the middle of your text.
- Observe the agent's policies. If they say that they don't respond to queries unless interested, then don't send them an email asking if they've read your query, especially if they post updates on their status. If an agent says they are taking a hiatus from queries, DO NOT send them a query during that time. If their response time says 5 weeks for a partial, give them at least 5 weeks before you flood their inbox. Technically this all goes under RESEARCH, but I felt the need to get a little more specific.
- Include the title. Personally, I would like your title in the subject line: "Query: Awesome Title" so that when I open my queries folder I don't see an endless line of nothing but "Query." This helps me find it again later if I need to and to distinguish all of my emails.
- Include the APPROXIMATE word count. This is something that has been talked about all over the place, but I'll say it again: Use your MSWord feature, get the word count, round it. Don't say "my novel is app. 63,752 words," because that's pretty freakin' exact, and I don't need to know that. I also don't need to know how many chapters or pages your MS is.
- Include the genre. If you don't know what your genre is, go look it up. Include whether or not it's children's, YA, or MG. If you just put "Urban Fantasy" I'm going to assume it's adult, and it'll be a bit of a shock if a 12-year-old starts narrating in 1st person on page one.
- Include your name. I'm not kidding. I've read queries where there was no signature, and I had no clue who wrote the book.
- Write a compelling, short, easy to read query. You're on your own for this one right now since there are a TON of places you can get help on crafting a decent query. But if it's bland, a single block of text, or doesn't even talk about the book, then chances are you won't get a request, and your query might not even get read.

I think that's enough for today. I'll try to do a post tomorrow on things you shouldn't do if this one goes over well. Hope this helps some of you. Any questions? I'll do my best to answer them!


Claire said...

Great post, Amanda! Even with the common sense stuff, it's good to have reminders, especially from someone In The Know.

Thanks for the information! :)

Jaimie said...

I need to try that "send it to yourself first" point. That's one thing I haven't seen suggested anywhere else... maybe that's my problem? Meh.

I deserve success, I tell you! There's something wrong with the universe! :P

Great post!

Kelley Vitollo said...

I'm starting queries right now. It's exciting and scary.

Candyland said...

Amen sister. I can't wait to see you as an agent! You'll ROCK!

Kathryn said...

I completely agree with putting your awesome title in the subject line. I've also seen some agents request putting in the genre as well, so it'd look like "Query for TITLE (genre). That probably makes it much easier for agents to sort, eh?

Great post, Amanda! :)

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

Excellent checklist!

Anonymous said...

Thanks for sharing these reminders. It comes at a good time as I'm starting to write query letters again and it is always good to be reminded of the basics.

Anonymous said...

Nice post! The steps seem so simple and yet I find them so hard--well, the part about writing a compelling, short, easy to read query. The rest I can manage. I think. LOL!

Talli Roland said...

Great tips Amanda!

Hope you have a fab weekend. :)

Anonymous said...

Loved the post! I've been trying to read up on everything query lately. =)



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