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June 13, 2012 / Chersti Nieveen

10 tips for querying

Ten tips on sending that query letter:

1. Make sure you spell the agent’s name right.

2. Mention if you are a twitter / blog follower. That means you know more about their tastes and preferences (hopefully you’ve been paying attention).

3. When you first send out that query letter, test it out. Send it to 5-10 agents to see how it’s received. If you start getting form rejections, then you’re obviously doing something wrong.

4. When you’re positive your query is in perfect shape, send out as many queries as you want. But don’t send too many in a single day, because you’ll end up making careless mistakes.

5. When sending queries, don’t rush. Hitting that ‘send’ button too fast is when the mistakes start happening. Misspelled names, sending the wrong requested sample material, ect. I personally saved my queries as a draft, and then gave myself a day before I sent it to make sure I had it right. It’s horrible to not make the changes you needed. (ie: if they ask for 5 pages, and you send 10 because that’s what your form query has listed).

6. Research the agent thoroughly before you send. I ended up crossing off some names on my list because of last-minute changes the agents had made. Either they weren’t accepting my genre anymore (even though they were 3 months ago, when I first formed the list), or I realized after a deep search that they just wouldn’t be a good fit.

7. If your gut says ‘no’ about an agent, don’t even query them. You are wasting your time and the agent’s time if you already plan on saying ‘no.’

8. Send out your query to as many agents as possible. This is a personal opinion, but this is your first chance to get your story out there. My querying process was really, really fast. I actually aimed to query at least 100 agents, but I was only at around 75 when I got my first offer. But in the publishing world, it’s all about the buzz. So if you have more agents requesting your material, then there is the possibility of more buzz, especially if they liked it. I had so many agents say they would be looking to see my book on the shelves soon. On my previous querying attempt, I queried a total of 5 agents before I thought the book stunk and moved it to the drawer of doom. (And one of those agents requested a partial. I’m kind of glad now, because I can make that book so much better, but seriously? 5 agents wasn’t even trying on my part.)

9. Sometimes, querying will lead you back to the drawing board. You’ll have to hit a hard revision. Take your time and make it work.

10. Look at Publisher’s Marketplace for what is currently trending in the market, and to see an agent’s sales record. It is totally worth the money.

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5 Comments

  1. leishamaw / Jun 13 2012 4:24 pm

    Great list. I love that you planned on sending it out 100 times. 🙂 I hand’t thought about the buzz aspect of querying. Thanks for sharing!

  2. Writer Jessie / Jun 13 2012 6:25 pm

    Love the list! I’ll have to subscribe to PM. Heard great things so far.

  3. Kimi Liskin / Jun 13 2012 6:26 pm

    Wow I am so not ready to query anytime soon.

  4. britters / Jun 13 2012 6:52 pm

    I’m not ready to query, but whenever I do I want to send over 100 queries. I’ve heard a lot of authors have done that. Just sounds like an awesome accomplishment.

  5. T.F.Walsh / Jun 25 2012 6:21 pm

    Great list… I hope to be ready to query soon:)

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