Sunday, 24 June 2012

Query advice: #askagent


Today, instead of posting writing tips I'm going to provide a list of 13 tips on querying. Before you question my knowledge on this subject I'm going to assure you that this advice comes from professionals. More specifically, literary agents. 

Yes, some of you may have been online during the latest round of the #askagent Twitter hashtag. This advice is compiled from things I managed to pick up during that Q&A spree. I didn't note down every answer to every question, but here are some things to quench your thirst for knowledge. 

  • Request for partials often reflect a lower interest level than a request for a full manuscript.
  • It is preferred that a successful writer publishes at least 1 book a year.
  • When personalising queries: don’t mass mail, spell the agents name correctly & don’t assume marital status.
  • If you have no publishing credits include: name, occupation, school, age, location and/or show your personality. Or skip the bio.
  • If you receive an offer from an agent it is polite to inform any you have queried or any that have requested full/partials.
  • Don’t write the sequel or rest of the series if you are querying the first book. Make it unrelated.
  • After finishing a manuscript, ask yourself these: Is the pacing strong? Are the characters complex? Is the writing vivid?
  • Book store trends are around two years behind the current trend, this is because newly released books were sold to a publisher an average of 18 months ago.
  • Any way you can promote or differentiate yourself in a query, include it!
  • Agents may take on self-published authors if the sales figures are high.
  • It is worth considering the risks of self-publishing before going through with it.
  • Short stories are hard to sell, but if you query a book of shorts you should aim for a paragraph describing each one in the query letter.
  • Mention any books under a pseudonym because if the agent can track it back to you, so can the publisher.

For those of you not familiar with this particular hash tag, #askagent is a small event that happens on Twitter every now and then. For an amount of time, usually determined by when all of the agents have signed off to sleep (or, y'know, live their lives), writers are allowed to ask whatever questions they want about querying and other agent-orientated subjects. 

You can usually tell when one is in session because it trends on Twitter! Writers, make sure you give it a go. 

If you were involved in #askagent - what advice did you pick up? Anything surprising?


1 comment:

  1. Thanks so much for sharing these! Random advice from agents is always, always appreciated. :D And wow...I REALLY need to get twitter sometime soon...


Leave your thoughts and responses as comments.

Come on, I won't bite! ^_~