Wednesday, March 16, 2011

The Dreaded Query Letter

Before I began searching for an agent, I researched how to write an effective query letter.  Some of the complaints from agents amazed me.  There are people out there who call the agent 'honey,' spell their name wrong or don't bother to put a name at all.  They need to keep in mind that this is a business.  You wouldn't go on a job interview in torn jeans and drinking a beer.  You wouldn't call the person interviewing you 'sweetheart.'  Not if you wanted the job.  So here are a few things I've learned along the way.

1.  Address the agent by name and be sure to spell it right.

2.  Do not send bribes or beg.  This isn't American Idol.

3.  Don't tell the agent this is 'just something I threw together.'  Be confident in your writing.

4.  Make sure to tell the agent the genre, word count, and other specifics about your book including a summary.  Think of it as what you would see on the back cover.

5.  Don't tell them about your mother's herb garden (unless you've written a book on gardening), but do tell the agent about your publishing history if you have one.

6.  Make the letter brief, no more than a page.  I've heard several agents say they just skim query letters.

7.  Thank the agent for his or her time.

8.  Most of all, be professional.

And if you get a rejection, don't write a nasy note back to the agent.  They talk to each other.  Especially in this day with Twitter and emails, you can't get away with stuff like that and it isn't professional.  If the agent doesn't want to represent your work, you don't want them.  Believe me.  It's nice to have someone (an agent) in your corner, someone who loves your book and is enthusiastic about it.  Happy writing!


Anonymous said...

Just thought I'd tell you --- I read your comment on Nathan Bransford's site this week, where you said you were "running around in cyberspace like a chicken with its head cut off". I had to immediately check out this blog.

'Cause that was the most original thing I'd heard all day. Even though that's an old, OLD metaphor, I've never heard it quite that way. I mean, are there headless chickens in cyberspace? How did they get there? And once the chicken gets into cyberspace, can it actually run? Are they actual chickens, or just cyber-chickens?

I love the visual art you've got going here. I've been blogging for a couple years now and I have like two comments; people tell me they keep getting error messages when they try to post there.

So relax, don't worry that you've taken too long getting here. Maybe you have, but I assure you that you are miles ahead of many others who have been at it for a while.

K. C. Blake said...

Thank you. I live on a farm so there are chickens here. You have some interesting thoughts about chickens in cyber-space. I wonder if they would implode or explode if they were floating around in cyber-space.

LisaAnn said...

Hi K.C.! I found your post on AbsoluteWrite about trying to find followers, and I'm new to the blog thing myself and trying to figure out everything, too. It looks like you have a great start, and I'm definitely enjoying cruising around so far!

Kellie said...

I saw your post on AW and am sort of in the same boat, so I thought I'd come over here and check you out. Turns out, you're actually writing about stuff I'm interested in, yay!

Anyways, about the whole query letter thing... I am constantly blown away by some of the unprofessional slip ups people make. How can people expect someone to take your writing seriously if you can't take yourself seriously?

K. C. Blake said...

Kellie- Yeah, I don't know what people are thinking sometimes. It's kind of like American Idol where the rejected singers will cry and scream, "But it's my dream!" as if that alone should get them a record deal.

Jettica said...

Querying seems like a scary process but these are good tips. Nice to have it all in one place!
Jet, x

K. C. Blake said...

Thaks, Jettica. I'm glad you found the information useful. Welcome to Ghost Writer.