Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Querying 201

You’ve finished your novel and wrote a kick ass query letter—congratulations! Now you just have to find the right agent for it. Before you mass query and CC everyone in the publishing industry (and earn the shiny reputation of Mass Query Spammer Extraordinaire), here are a few things you should know.

Revise, Revise, Revise

Agent Rachelle Gardner (@RachelleGardner on Twitter) tweeted the following yesterday: Often, “I just finished my 1st book” means the writer typed “The End” on their first draft LAST NIGHT. Don’t. Do. This. If you can, put your baby—um, novel—away for a few days then pull it out and read over it with fresh eyes. Find the method of editing that’s best for you and get to it. Your book not in the best shape you think it can be? Revise and edit again. Once you’re pleased with your work, send it to beta readers and prepare yourself for more edits based on their comments.

Research . . . Seriously

A cupcake shop doesn’t want several customers coming in daily looking for hot wings (yeah, I had to make a food reference) and the same thing goes with agents. There are so many resources online and even available for checkout or purchase at your local library or bookstore to help you with your agent hunt. Visit sites like Query Tracker and Agent Query to find agents who represent your genre. Go the extra mile by looking them up on Google and checking out any interviews they’ve had that list their preferences. It’s also important to only query agents who are open for submission.

Hit Send!

Send a few queries out. When I queried, I sent five to seven queries a week, sometimes even less. Be professional and polite. If you’ve met the agent at a conference or held a casual chat with them on Twitter, personalize your query letter and mention it. It’s a good idea to keep a list of the agents you’ve queried and their response. Being an Excel nerd, I kept a detailed list with comments, etc. Do what’s right for you.

Watch What You Write!

Agents are people, too, and your book may not be right for everyone. Avoid making negative comments on forums and social networking sites about agents who reject you or take a little more time responding because it’s not only a turn off for that particular agent but other agents. Plus, even though this novel wasn’t perfect for them, another book might be. If you query them again for a different project, they may be reluctant to request your work.

Original post published on Old People Writing for Teens by GotYA contributor Stephanie Jenkins. To view the original post and reader comments, please click here.

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