Happy Agent Monday, everyone! If you don’t see me posting for a few Mondays, it’s simply because I’m THAT BUSY. This past Sunday, for example, I spent 6 straight hours delving through queries in my inbox, and I barely made a dent. Still, I did request 3 manuscripts – and that IS how I’ve found a number of my wonderful clients in the past. So what’s it really look like inside of Query Land? Here are some quick thoughts before I get right back to work here…
First of all, folks who don’t follow my guidelines get instantly deleted. And including your query as an attachment…anything as an attachment… I’m not gonna open those – would you?
Folks who can’t even bother to find out who I am or what I do? Deleted – Dear Sir. I know you are looking for Non-Fiction (I’m NOT! I don’t even rep it…and not a sir, thank you very much). Addressed to no one, sent to EVERYONE. Saying please publish my book (I’m not a publisher…).
Writing your query as if you are your character NEVER WORKS. First it confuses me, then it once I figure out that you are not you, it comes off as really gimmicky and ridiculous.
When I send you a rejection, please don’t write back to ask me for advice or tips. I don’t have time and that is really not my job. Remember, an agent lives off a percentage of what her authors make once they sell…and that I spend HOURS reading queries just to find a person that has a manuscript that MIGHT interest me. Think of the 6 hours I’ve spent on a Sunday morning, in addition to a full week of extra long hours working for my own clients, and ask yourself, where would you spend your precious time if you were me?
When someone tells me their book is a young adult picture book romance thriller, I know they don’t know anything about the business. A book must fit onto a shelf and appeal to a certain audience.
An author’s writing is their product. When they can’t compose a simple query letter, I won’t be interested. Terrible grammar, multiple spelling errors, and long rambling prose? Not interested.
Please don’t tell me your book is the next bestseller, or that your neighbor read your book and loved it. A query should be composed so that I will love the book.
Conclusion? Yes, this is a business. Be a professional in your dealings, and I will feel confident I can deal with you and put you in front of an editor. The queries that prompted me to request a full manuscript? Well, they addressed ME, their queries were professional and intriguing, and the writers followed my guidelines.
That’s Agent Marie reporting from the query trenches. Over and out!
*Marie is a Literary Agent at The Jennifer De Chiara Literary Agency in New York City. To keep up with all her Agent Monday posts, subscribe to her site.
Six hours is a lot. I have to wonder when you get time to sleep. I want to thank you for a great post. Barbara of the Balloons
Thanks, Barbara! I sometimes wonder too 😉
Marie, you and your fellow agents deserve a big thank you from writers for continuing to plow through endless slush piles in the hopes a finding a few “possibles.” That deluge can be a bit daunting from a writer’s perspective, too, but knowing there is someone on the other end who is stubborn enough to keep on looking, someone who wants us to succeed, makes it worth striving for your attention.
Hey, that’s what it’s all about. Nothing is more thrilling than discovering my next client. All treasure hunters gotta dig!
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You are a champion for writers Marie! Now take a Sunday off now and then, won’t you? 🙂
Thanks!… and will do! 🙂