The dreaded query. Countless authors have been lost to this writers gauntlet of death, but there is hope! After speaking to numerous authors, writers, aspiring authors and agents I have found a few key underlying points that seem to be an absolute must when writing your query. Also, before you query, make sure you have a finely tuned and polished manuscript.
- Research the agent. DO NOT waste your time sending your query to every agent who has a remote interest in your genre, and when I say research, I mean research. The books they like to read, the books they have represented, if they are currently accepting queries. Follow them on social media. Steer clear of stalking. This allows you to personalize your query instead of vomiting up the same rehearsed verbiage for every letter. Your synopsis and author bio wont change so this is important.
- Don’t just use best sellers and the most popular books as your comps. This is part of doing your research. Find some books that they have represented that have done well but may not be on everyone’s radar.
- Characters, what’s at stake and the characters goals. That is it. When writing the synopsis you have to keep it simple and hit them hard. Leave them with questions that they want answers to. If you get bogged down with details you will lose your agent. They have hundreds of these puppies to sort through and you are, at this time, just a number. There are tons of resources online for writing a query synopsis, I advise you use them.
- Characters are super important as agents have a tendency to lean towards certain tropes, after all , they are human too. This is where I might alter my synopsis to try and entice a specific agent. This again falls under the research your agent category. Research.
- Keep it short. No more than a 5 sentence synopsis, 6 at MOST!
- Follow the submission guidelines, THEY ARE ALL DIFFERENT. Recheck half a dozen times. Period.
- Keep it professional, you are trying to become one.
- Learn to enjoy it. This is your opportunity to create interest in your book. Gag those little doubting voices in your head, you got this.
Whew, made it to ten. Time for coffee.