Happy Agent Monday, gang! *Waves from a drizzly northeast location.* Though it does vary, in general I reply to queries FAST. Sometimes within hours of receiving them. Yeah, call me The Flash! All too often, I’m sending out polite rejections. These might have writers scratching their heads wondering, did she even read it? Does she have an army elves reading for her? How the heck did she do that so fast?
So today, The Flash replies to these questions… Yes, I read it. No, no army, just me. And how does The Flash maintain her rapid fire responses? Well, honestly, often I KNOW within a line or two of a query if I need to read anything more.
Sorry, writers, but it is true. Picture yourself browsing through a bookstore, looking for a new book to take home and spend hours upon hours with. You are looking for what interests you most. So if someone hands me something that I’m absolutely NOT interested in, I know quickly that it ain’t making it to the checkout aisle.
Blood, death and destruction? Not for me. Zombie apocalypse? I could care less. Horsey books? I always was afraid that a horse would bite my face off, so I’m not on board. Rampant kinky sex between the pages of a book? Yawn. A naughty baron is tamed by innocent maiden? Nu-uh.
If your query is trying to get me sweet on a topic that I really never ever have liked to read, chances are pretty good it’ll be a rapid fire rejection. Doesn’t take me long to figure that out. That’s where reading an agent’s guidelines can be helpful to you. Don’t waste time trying to convince someone who does not represent bodice rippers that yours is the one for them.
What else spurs The Flash into a rapid-fire rejection? Unprofessionalism. Think of your query like a job interview. The moment you walk into the room, I’m looking for signs that you are a serious writer, a pro to work with, as well as talented. So, this is a writing gig, right? Show up with multiple typos, with a slew of grammatical errors in your sample pages, with a dull write up about your book, and it’s like you came into the interview room wearing flip-flops and with greasy hair, while smoking a joint. Zap! You ain’t getting the job.
You’d be amazed at how many queries I get on a daily basis that fall into one of the two above categories. With most, I don’t have to read too far before I know what to do.
So target your queries carefully, and be a pro in what you present. It matters. Big time.
Your goal should be to get the agent to request your full manuscript, and fast! So do it right.
The Flash is poised and waiting…
*Marie is an Associate Agent at the Jennifer De Chiara Literary Agency in New York City. To keep up with all her posts, subscribe to her site by clicking on the “Subscribe to Marie’s site here” link located on her page on the upper left margin.