Queries: Really Not That Complicated
In the comments to Friday’s post, February Grace said: “I wish that there was a standard query procedure to follow. That’s all. A uniform cover letter plus a sample from the work or synopsis or both.”
First, I want to apologize on behalf of all agents, because apparently we’ve made it seem way too hard. It’s not. It’s the ultimate in simple. We all DO want basically the same things, with the only major difference being that some agents want sample pages in the query, and some don’t.
Other than that, here’s what we want:
A reasonably intelligent letter, addressed to us personally, that pitches the book in a way that makes it sound interesting and makes us want to read it.
If the book is non-fiction, then a bit about the author and the platform is also necessary.
Most of the problems with queries are in the writing itself, and this has nothing to do with differing agent guidelines. You’ve got to learn to write a strong letter, as well as a strong pitch for your book.
Sure, every agent has their little preferences and pet peeves. And we DO want you to read our guidelines because the biggest time waster is reading queries for genres we don’t even rep. But basically, if you have a well-written letter that is free of grammatical errors and typos, avoids grandiosity and ridiculous claims, and makes your book sound intriguing, you will get fair consideration.
Stay educated about industry basics such as genres and acceptable word counts, read agent guidelines so you’ll know what they rep – and stop worrying so much.
Rachelle Gardner, Literary Agent