Posts Tagged ‘how to write a query letter’
My agent search has begun. So while I have several posts in progress including (but not limited to):
- Review for extremely helpful and fun guide by Kirsty Stuart for making money travel blogging,
- Review for another terrific resource for bloggers, The Blogger’s Guide to Freelancing by Ali Luke,
- A descriptive piece on steampunk,
- Getting attached to fictional characters (and how sometimes writers need to kill off key characters).
But it’s only relevant and timely that I update you on my agent search, as well as the resources – yep, there’ll be some affiliate links- I’m using during the dreaded query and synopsis-writing phase:
Submitting and Formatting Your Manuscript by Chuck Sambuchino
Written by freelance writer/editor Chuck Sambuchino, this Writer’s Digest book guides you on the process of writing, formatting and querying both fiction and non-fiction. You’ll find invaluable tips on querying, cover letters, manuscript pages; as well as samples for anything you will need to write.
In addition to novel writing and submitting, the book includes sections for non-fiction, memoirs, graphic novels, screenplays and more.
2014 Guide to Agents
After having spent two hours and having only completed a detailed list for a handful of agents, I wanted to have a readily compiled book at hand with tips on the querying process as well:
2014 Guide to Agents includes contact details, agent interviews and their genre preferences, query letters agents liked, percentage of new writers vs. established writers, contracts and more.
Yes, I couldn’t recommend this book enough. That said, always check the website of the agency in question and combine the information you find in the book and on the site. Agencies tend to update their needs, so make sure you do your homework well.
For instance, while some agencies preference for romance is not mentioned in the book, you might find they’re especially after romance these days. Yeah, I’m speaking from experienceJ
AgentQuery, by their definition, is an online database of literary agents.
Agent Query is more than just a database, however. It includes information on the industry, including genre descriptions, reasons for needing an agent, other resources for writers and more.
QueryTracker, by their definition, is a free database of agents and publishers. It’s free to register, and you can use it to track your own queries, hence the appropriateness of the name. The site has been repeatedly named as one of the best sites for writers by Writer’s Digest.
Literary Agent Janet Reid runs the essential query critique blog Query Shark where she analyzes real queries on what works and what doesn’t. Read her submission guidelines (and the rich well of previously critiqued queries) before querying yourself. There’s a chance she already corrected your mistakes and evaluated your strengths and weaknesses on somebody else’s query.
Writer’s Digest Posts on Agents
Just keep clicking on the related links you come across while reading these. There’s a ton, and it would take me months to generate a complete list here. I’ve, however, selected a few to get you started:
This is a very insightful and practical resource on all aspects of writing in general.
But when you are looking for an agent, there are some questions you’d like answered to do a better job, including:
- What does an agent want to see when they google you?
- What do they want or hate in a query letter?
- Is it OK to query multiple agents at the same agency?
- How many queries without answers should be a warning sign for you to improve that query?
(*Please note that some of these have been excerpted from the 2014 Guide to Literary Agents, the book recommended earlier in this post.)
Frankly, I was a fan of The Write Life before. But these posts above turned me into an addict.:)
Of course it’s a good idea not to only apply these tips, but take notes of the names of agents that offered them as well. They might be amongst the people you’ll be submitting your work to after all.
Agents information are generally featured on the websites of the literary agencies they work for. However they tend to offer even more about what they want through interviews, tweets and blogs.
So learn what you can about each agent’s preferences before you send that query letter.
Currently, I’m absorbing and deploying these resources. Please add what you use in the comments.J
And good luck to everyone, whether you need it for inspiration, submission or just selling more.:)
- Make a Living Writing – Carol Tice’s Blog
Carol Tice has posted one of her assignment winning queries.
The pros: You get to see how to craft a compelling query. And you get to see how you can pitch multipe ideas professionally in a single page query letter.
The con: Many magazines look down on multiple pitches, especially if you are not a yet established author, or you don’t have a relationship with that editor. Still, you can study and learn a lot from Carol’s sample.
Plus, she has a whole section of posts that feature “the tag” query letters. These posts might not be directly on query letters, but they do include valuable information on your relationships with editors.
- Query Letter Clinic – (Mini) E-Book
Writer’s Market is an online resource for writers where they can find info about magazine. In order to be able to access these markets, you need to be a member- which requires a fee. I am a member, so Query Letter Clinic was already on my dashboard. However I don’t remember if this e-book is available to non-members. You need to check.
- The Writer’s Digest Guide to Query Letters – E-book, Paperback
Writer’s Digest Guide to Query Letters has over 200 pages of information: it starts with the basics of a query, then gives you the specific elements of different query letters, such as: querying to an agent about your novel, non-fiction book, querying about your articles to magazines. It tells you how and when to follow up, where to look for the necessary information and understanding writer’s guidelines, managing your relationships with editors, and agents and so much more. Yes, it is a lot of information to digest, but it is worth it. It is a must-have query source for any writer.
- Aboutfreelancewriting.com – Anne Wayman
Anne Wayman has posted a good sample of a magazine query on her blog. She also explains which information is included where, and why. The rest of her blog is also full of useful and applicable tips for freelance writing and blogging.
- Writer’s Digest.com – the website
You don’t need to be Writer’s Digest magazine subscriber to access the vast content on their website. While having the magazine is also helpful, you can always read the articles on the web for free. I bookmarked 2 query letter articles I liked. While these articles were mostly written with the novel writer querying the agent/publisher in mind, you can easily adapt, and use the information for magazine article queries.
These articles are:
- 12 New Things Writers Must Do Today to Make Money – E-book
Wooden Horse Publishing’s Meg Weaver’s e-book Twelve New Things Writers Must Do Today to Make Money is not solely about query letters, but it teaches you more about understanding the magazine (understanding its target audience and slant, and voice) than any other book around. And trust me, I devoured more than my share of e-books and books, both free and unpaid, on the subject of magazine writing. And since you understand that particular magazine perfectly, your chances of writing a terrific query letter becomes much higher. But she doesn’t just leave you with the understanding of magazines. She teaches you how to create queries from scratch as well. Oh, she also goes on to give you information about what extras will go to the article (such as decks and photographs), how to arrange them and so on. At $14.95, it is really worth it.
*By the way, the link for this e-book is NOT an affiliate link.
- Power Queries – E-book
Filbertpublishing’s Beth Erickson has written a 20-page e-book on query letters called “Power Queries”, and it is a free gift to the website’s e-mail subscribers.
Here, Erickson talks about the many ways you can start your query letter, gives examples and explains the reasons why those examples might be attention-worthy. Seeing examples, and not just sentences about how-to-write-queries, makes it much easier for the writer to get the grasp.
She also gives you tips on what not to do as well, when it comes to voice, language and style. And don’t worry- she doesn’t stop with how to start a great query letter. She goes on to give tips on how to draft the rest of your query. Yes, these are powerful 20 pages!