query letters

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What not to do.

Writer Beware® [sic] on bulk agent query services.

True story: Back when I was querying, I considered writing my own version of one of these. It would’ve been rad cool–thought then!me–with a list of agents, a list of “query components” (pitch, bio, synopsis, first n pages, etc.) which I could click-click-submit into a handy dandy email, pre-formatted and ready for sending.

I never did end up writing this, mostly because I got hung up on which MVC framework to use, then realised Mavericks had blatted my AMP stack, so got bored of the exercise and went back to, yanno, editing the book–specifically, rewriting the opening–which turned out to be infinitely more productive.

2018-06-26T13:22:40+10:004th April, 2014|Tags: agents, publishing, query letters, writer beware|

Agent peeves from the slush pile.

A variety of quotes from a variety of agents. Common themes seem to be “know who you’re addressing”, “know your market”, “spellcheck”, and “enough with the vague bullshit tell me the plot already”.

2015-05-02T23:01:09+10:0012th March, 2014|Tags: agents, books, publishing, query letters|

What you do.

I am searching for a literary agent. I know nothing about publishing, other than I have always held the belief that one should get paid for what one has written. This is a rough draft, in need of some editing. As I understand it, that is what you do.

–Letters from Slush Pile Hell.

(To be fair, I think most agents do do at least some editorial work as well as “agenting” agenting… but not on rough drafts.)

2019-04-29T10:58:03+10:0023rd February, 2014|Tags: agents, books, publishing, query letters, writing|

More like fourteen.

Dear Literary Agent. I just finished NaNoWriMo. My book is 54,000 words! I have not read it yet, but I did put seventy whole hours into writing it, which is a lot, therefore you have to publish it. I have also attached three additional Word documents, representing my finished-yet-unedited books from NaNo 2010, 2011, and 2012. If you don’t like any of these, please forward them for me to someone who does. Thank you!

–Query Quagmire asks “Can you circle at least five things wrong with this picture?”

2016-05-14T11:27:45+10:0023rd January, 2014|Tags: agents, books, publishing, query letters|

The DO NOTs of querying.

  1. Do not send out your manuscript if it’s still at first-draft stage – there will always be room to improve after that, and you need to send out the best possible version of your work.
  2. Do not send out your manuscript if you know, in your gut (or your heart – whichever you prefer), that it isn’t ready, even if it’s had several drafts. You only have one chance to submit to agents and publishers – once you’ve been rejected, it is highly unlikely that the same manuscript will be looked at again. And, deep down, you know when it’s still not ready – you’re just trying to talk yourself out of it.
  3. Do not send your submission to someone who isn’t interested in the genre or category of book you’re writing. Children’s authors, you’re the big culprits here – many of you send submissions to agents and publishers who don’t represent or publish children’s books.
  4. Do not ignore the submission guidelines – they’re arbitrary, yes, but they’re our attempt to create order out of chaos.

–I’m a little bit guilty of number two. Only a little bit. It’s really hard to tell, okay! Jesus don’t judge me like that. /hides

2018-06-26T13:20:15+10:008th January, 2014|Tags: agents, books, query letters|

Query letters 101.

This is actually more like how to write the synopsis/pitch part of the query–the actual full query itself contains a bit of other stuff as well–but it’s good advice for something I think pretty much every writer loathes doing.

2018-06-26T13:20:15+10:005th January, 2014|Tags: books, publishing, query letters|
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