Monday, March 26, 2012

Querying for dummies

Querying is time-consuming. And annoying. And degrading. And demoralizing. You're practically groveling to someone who is more than likely too busy to respond to you anyway, so yeah. There's a reason so many writers loathe this part of the submission stage. But if you're smart (and I'm assuming you are since you read my blog) you can make the most out of this horrendous process. 

Break out the note-taking materials, I will be giving a pop quiz later.

1. Familiarize yourself with sites like QueryShark and Nathan Bransford. Study them. Memorize them. Find other blogs/sites that resonate with you while you learn the mechanics of writing the actual query letter itself. Find successful queries that resulted int full-requests. I personally recommend THIS SITE. 
2. Use the appropriate search engines to find your agents. Publisher's MarketplaceQueryTracker, and AgentQuery are all good choices. 
3. Once you select an agent DO YOUR RESEARCH and check their agency's website, past clients, interviews, etc. Just because Publisher's Marketplace lists "horror" under your agent's name, does not necessarily mean your agent is actively looking for horror at this time. Study the sort of books your agent has represented in the past and make sure you read their submission guidelines first!   
3. Personalize your queries. I realize this is a pain to do--but trust me, your chances of getting a full request are greatly improved if you study your agent's likes and dislikes  before sending off your query. 
4. Write multiple versions of your query letter. Pick the strongest one. Then seek the advice of fellow writers (preferably the writers who beta'd your novel) and revise, revise, revise, revise! This query letter is the only obstacle standing in the way of you getting published, so make sure your query is as strong as possible!
5. You've finished writing the damned thing and your query has been polished to perfection. Congratulations. The hard work is over and all that there's left to do is pull up your big girl panties and mail them off. Expect rejections but stay optimistic. Keep in mind most agents adopt a "no response means NO" approach. So if your agent is nice enough to tell you you've been rejected DO NOT act like an asshole and demand answers for why. Be professional at all times. 
6. So by now you've been rejected by 25 different agents. Chin up. There's still hope. Explore small-press publishing or even self-publishing. There are many ways to get your novel published nowadays. Take these rejections as an opportunity to polish up your MS while you think of a plan B. 

If you have any tips or useful resources to share with us, please don't hesitate to enlighten the blogosphere with your comment! 



t_mcclinton85 said...

I seriously just spent like a half hour reading that "this one" link you provided. Holy cow! What a good website! I can see why it's your number one resource! I'm pretty excited though, because after a lot of advice from my kick ass writing buddy, i've thankfully avoided all of the "don't do's". Eh-hem. ;)

Thanks for the interesting post!

Vegetarian Cannibal said...

I'm glad my links were able to help you, Theresa! Happy querying! (And by the way, CONGRATS on your full-request!!!!)

~Cheers from the Vegetarian Cannibal

Lurid said...

Awesome, thanks for the links! I was familiar with some but not all of them. I'll take any advice I can get.

Vegetarian Cannibal said...

Glad I could be of service! Thanks for commenting, Lurid! :D

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