- Get the agent’s name right. Even better, do your research. Learn what they represent, who they represent and what they like to read. It’s worth it, you’re hoping to enter into a strong working relationship, finding these things out will only prove beneficial in the long run.
- KISS (Keep it simple and short). I’ve read the sweet spot is between 400-500 words.
- Include genre and word count. For genre, do not write fiction novel. Don’t bother to hit send if work isn’t complete and polished.
- Follow the submission guidelines.
- Make sure your voice comes through. Your goal is to entice the agent, making it so they crave to read more. Think fly fishing. Let that hook fly.
- Don’t ask the agent to click on a link. Feel free to add it in your signature, but they’re already busy enough as it is.
- Your pitch paragraph should read like back cover copy of book. Study book blurbs to get a feel for how it should sound. No synopsis writing this time.
- Provide all of your contact information.
Bonus tip: Whatever you do, never…I mean never bust into an agent’s office with your manuscript in your trembling hands singing in your donkey voice, “I want you to want me…I need you to need me.” This will not bode well for you. In fact, this won’t bode well for anybody.
Nathan Bransford’s advice
Rachelle Gardner's advice
Over 100 posts addressing queries on Kristin Nelson’s blog
I also really like what James Scott Bell summed up about queries in The Art of War for Writers. There are hundreds of books on this topic.
Any tips or resources to share? Now’s the time…
*photos by flickr