It’s finally that time – my manuscript is polished and ready to be sent out. I wrote my hooky query letter, synopsis, author bio, and thought I was ready.
Boy was I wrong.
So let me save you some time and show you what I’ve learned that I haven’t seen on other query advice sites.
1. It takes forever.
It took me over 4 hours to query 15 agents. That’s roughly 20 minutes per agent. I’m using QueryTracker so finding them isn’t the issue. It’s everything else.
2. Pay attention to detail.
Every agency has special submission policies you can find on their website. If you’re using QueryTracker do not just assume they don’t have guidelines if they didn’t post them in their info. Here are some examples:
- Send only query letter with salutations to agent.
- Send only query letter to agency but do not mention an agent.
- Send query letter and 1-2 page synopsis in body of email.
- Send query letter, 1-2 page synopsis, and first 5/10/50 pages of manuscript in body of email.
- Send query letter, 1-2 page synopsis, and first 3 chapters of manuscript in body of email.
- Send query letter, a chapter by chapter synopsis, and the entire manuscript as an attachment.
See what I mean?
3. Subject line matters.
Same thing with email subject. Some want QUERY, QUERY Title of Book, QUERY Name of Agent, etc. Make sure you find this info out before emailing or your query might get immediately trashed.
4. Pick one agent per agency.
Almost every agency has several agents who like different genres. You have to read every agent’s bio in order to find the right fit for your query and only query that person. They don’t like it if you email more than one agent in the same agency, so your best bet is to pick one and go for it (and make sure you keep track). Some agents and agencies specifically list genres they don’t represent. That’s kind of important.
5. You will probably get a heart attack.
Some agents take days while others take months to respond. Some have autoreplies while others have nothing. Basically, you’re in limbo. Every time your phone buzzes with an email for the next month it will make you jump. If you have anxiety, this is going to suck.
6. An agency is not always a publishing company.
There are many agents with individual agencies who sell your manuscript to a publishing company. You can tell because the name is usually the company name (Ex: Sue Moor with Moor Inc.). And that’s ok. Companies like Scholastic do not accept unsolicited manuscripts, so if your next Hunger Games gets an agent it can go anywhere. You don’t need a full representation and publishing company to be successful.
7. Don’t doubt yourself.
It will make you question your manuscript. Even if you’ve been working on it for five years. Stay strong!
8. Don’t forget!
And lastly, don’t forget your contact info! Every query I’ve seen requires three things: genre, word count, and contact info. If you have those, you’re on your way!
Oh boy I can’t wait for my first rejection!