Dear Dream Agent….
Ah, the mysterious, ellusive agent. For those of you who dream of or seek representation, what are you doing to establish yourself? In an effort to help out my fellow writers, since many have come asking me about it, I thought I’d offer a few tips. FEEL FREE TO TAKE IT OR LEAVE IT!
I have a few questions that I ask myself every time I begin thinking about representation (and yes, I am an over-achiever. My book is only 2/3 done and I’m already shopping for an agent).
Have I established myself online? (i.e. a blog, a Twitter, a facebook account, a BookRix account ;), perhaps an online book)
Is my manuscript polished to a shine? (Have you edited it over and over again, had two or three beta readers read it? A beta reader is NOT your mom or your husband or your sister. It is a fellow writer not afraid to be almost cruel in their assessment of your book. Better a friend than a stranger who receives hundreds of books JUST like yours.)
Have I done my research? (Yet again, I will reference Twitter. It’s why I have my twitter, aside from those days I just need an outlet to vent. None of them follow me, so I foolishly assume I’m free to say whatever. Still, follow them and you will see into their personal lives: the names of their cats, the coffee they like, the books they’re reading, the things their 2 yr old does. Any extra knowledge you can gain is good for your query.)
Have I created a strong query?
For those of you asking what a query is, it is a short, PROFESSIONAL letter asking for representation. ALWAYS address it directly to the agent unless otherwise specified. ALWAYS follow their submission guidelines on their websites. Some ask for 5 pages attached. Some ask for just the query.
NEVER put questions in your query. For most of us, that seems like a hook, but to them it’s just annoying. You don’t want to start off with the agent saying, “In a world full of evil and darkness, who will step up and save them all? I don’t care.” Rather, it is much better and much more professional to write something like “Amanda was Chosen. Before her birth, she had been Chosen, marked with the star prophesied so many years before. The world had collapsed in darkness and she was the only one who could stop it.” Sound a little more interesting? Is there any point in which the agent is required to do more than nod along with your words? No. Easy is best. No fancy-pants stuff, except as you describe.
Also, use that research knowledge you’ve gained to add something personal. If they’ve represented a book similar to yours, put that, but ONLY if it is similar. Don’t say “I saw that you represented Twilight and think my book Day of the Dead is similar. Both have heroines that fall madly in love with someone who wants to kill them.” Zombies and vampires don’t equal the same. Now, something like “I saw that you represented Twilight and think that my book The Beast Within is something you might enjoy. Sam is a sophomore in college who is inexplicably drawn to the mysterious Garrett, a demon-vampire hybrid.” Yes, iflylikeninja, I did piggyback off your book. I just couldn’t remember the title, so I ad-libbed.
Finally, put in something personal. Not, “I saw your purple striped socks yesterday and love how it shows your unique personality.” Creepy. However, something like, “I saw that you are a fan of the Dallas Mavericks. Go Mavs!” Yes, that was lame, but this is all off the top of my head. As is most of the stuff I post….
So, that’s today’s blurb. How many of you are dreaming of the agent to propel you into Stephanie-Meyers-dom? How many of you are already sending out queries? Let me know so I can cheer you on!
Posted on September 21, 2011, in Musing, tips and tests, writing and tagged anti-drug, BookRix, Calypso, editing, nerdliness, query letters, Steph's come out to play, WIP, writing. Bookmark the permalink. 3 Comments.