Ah, the road to getting published. Full of bumps and bruises, potholes and pitfalls. So what’s the best way to navigate it? By being prepared.
So here’s a little checklist of questions to ask yourself to know if you are prepared to query. See how far you can get down the list.
1. Is your manuscript THE ABSOLUTE BEST YOU CAN MAKE IT? (If not, go and hit those pages with your best revision efforts)
2. Have you had Beta Readers / critique partners give you feedback on the book as a whole? (Your mom, your spouse, and any other significant person doesn’t count unless they’re a.) giving honest feedback and b.) qualified to tear apart your story. I have my sisters as Beta Readers because they fit both of those categories. They are voracious readers and seriously brutal–I think my sister Sarah is the only one who’s ever made me cry during a critique.)
3. Have you researched all the nit-picky things about your book to make sure it’s right where it should be? (ie: acceptable wordcount length for the genre you are going for, ect)
4. Have you written a short pitch and 1-page synopsis? (short pitch being about 5 sentences, and what you’ll use in your query letter. Agents also usually ask for a 1-page synopsis, though sometimes they want it 2-4 pages. Sometimes it’s good to have both prepared.)
5. Have you looked at how to write a query letter? (Check out queryshark for great examples)
6. Have you written your query letter? (you might want to do that then…)
7. Have you had people review both your query letter and your synopsis?
8. Do you have a list of agents you want to query?
9. Have you researched each agent to make sure they really are a good fit? (this is an important step some people seem to miss. You want to make sure the agent represents your audience/genre at least. Try to find what they are looking for, and what they’ve sold. Publisher’s Marketplace is a great place to check their sales record and Casey McCormick has a great site that gives details on lots of agents.)
10. Are you following those agents on your list on twitter, or other online social media? (Dude, seriously make sure you’re doing this one, and then mention it in the subject or the query letter itself. Agents like to know you are savvy with the social media. Plus, if you read their recent tweets, or even the not-so-recent-ones, they’ll mention things they are looking for or other tid-bits of advice.)
If you said ‘yes’ to all these question, CONGRATULATIONS! You are ready to query.
ps. If you have any questions, post them below and I’ll put that in the next post.