Dare I commit to doing a post from my agent’s point of view every Monday? Aw heck, why not? So today’s “Agent Monday” post is devoted to agent guidelines, and why guidelines are your friend in the query process.
Following an agent’s submission guidelines can only help you to get the positive attention of an agent. I know, thank you Captain Obvious, right? But I get SO MANY QUERIES from writers who obviously have not bothered to read my submission guidelines.
Honestly, why waste your time sending a query to any agent if you don’t know the first thing about their interests or about how they like to receive stuff from you? Before you submit anything to any agent please do yourself a favor and run a simple Google search on that agent and their agency, adding in “submission guidelines” into the search field. Odds are you will find their interests and requirements right smack dab there on their agency’s page. Search “Marie Lamba,” and within seconds you’ll spot many interviews with me on various sites. You’ll also find me listed as Associate Agent at The Jennifer DeChiara Literary Agency site. And there you’ll see my very specific submission guidelines, which you can also access if you click right here.
By following my guidelines you will quickly know not to waste your time subbing your gory horror novel to me. Or your high fantasy novel. Or your category romance. But you will put me on your list if you have a YA novel, or a middle reader, or a funny women’s fiction. That sort of thing. And please, dear writers, don’t think that your gory horror novel is so amazing that it will change my mind about how I feel about this genre. Please. The guidelines do apply. Even to you. Even if you are brilliant. (Sorry.)
And here’s the truth: With a quick look at my inbox, I can easily spot the writers who didn’t even bother to look me up before subbing to me. First of all, the message line of the email does not start with QUERY. Next step? I notice when someone is sending me stuff I have no interest in whatsoever. Lastly, and most importantly, the “didn’t even bother to look up my guidelines” writer is missing out on the one huge advantage my guidelines spell out: I let you send me the first 20 pages of your manuscript pasted into the bottom of your query!
So you can see how folks who don’t follow guidelines are shooting themselves in the foot. Sending info that is clearly not of interest to me equals instant rejection. And say you send me a query for something I DO represent, but you didn’t find out about the 20 page thing? Well, then I’m faced with the extra step of asking to see those first 20 pages from you. Sometimes (rarely), if the query is intriguing, I might send back a quick note for the writer to resub following my guidelines. But mostly I just sigh and send the rejection.
If you do follow all of my guidelines and still get that rejection, at least you know you’ve gotten a fair shake, and that I’ve been given enough info to assess if your manuscript was right for me. And if, after subbing the 20 pages in the initial query, I DO ask to see your full manuscript, you know that I’m basing this request on more than a one paragraph pitch. I’m interested!
So, fellow writers, do yourself a huge favor and take a few moments to do your homework about the agent you are subbing your precious book to. You’ll better target your queries, and put your work on a better path to acceptance. And that, my friends, is all good.
*Agent Monday is a weekly post. To catch all of these, subscribe to this blog by clicking on the “Subscribe to Marie’s Site Here” in the upper left column.