Querying your novel

If you’re interested in trying to land a traditional publishing deal, you need a plan. You will have to be prepared to query many agents.

Getting started

I always recommend starting with a list of 100 agents who represent work in your genre. I recommend making the list of 100 ahead of time because the process of querying is very challenging and filled with rejection, so the more work you have prepped ahead of time the easier it will be to keep chugging along. You’ll just go to the next name on your list.

Send your query out to about ten agents at a time. Give it a week or two, then send out another ten queries.

The “wait before sending more” approach is important because if there’s something wrong with your query, it’s important to know that before you’ve approached everyone on your list. If you do ten or so at a time, you’ll get feedback that will tell you something.

Many agents want you to submit through a contact form on their website, and this will ask for information about previous titles and sales. Obviously if you’ve had great sales, filling in this part is fun. But if you’ve had lackluster sales, it can make you hesitate. Just fill in this information without apology; if the agent only wants to work with authors who have terrific sales, well, good luck to them. But a lot of the time this won’t make them say no, it just gives them some context for their decision-making.

Finding agents to query

As far as finding agents who represent your work, you may want to spend some time on www.agentquery.com. They have a free, searchable database. You check the keyword about your genre and it’ll pull up agents who rep that genre. Agents with good query letter information are Janet Reid and Kristen Nelson.

If you get no answers to your query letter

If you get no answers at all or only form rejections, there is something wrong with your query letter and/or the pages you’re using as a sample. You will need to revise. If you do get personal rejections or requests for fulls/partials, then you will know that your query letter and sample are on the right track.

If you get ms requests but no offers

If you get requests but no offers of representation, there is something wrong (that is, not commercially viable) about the ms. You will need to revise.

Join the Club!

how to become an editor

New to story editing? Begin at the beginning.

Similar Posts