How to Start Querying, Part Four: Get Set

Hey guys! On Tuesday, I gave you a bunch of tips on how to find agents/publishers and make sure they're credible. Now it's time to write an agent a query!

1. Select your agent and look at their guidelines. Take a look at the list of agents you saved in your bookmarks folders and pick which one you're going to query first. If this is your first time querying, you may want to start small and only query one agent at a time. Or, if you prefer, you can select as many as you want and query them all at the same time. I'll go into more detail on that in a little bit, though. For now, look at the guidelines your agent requests. Some agents have specific guidelines of their own, and others follow the basic guidelines of their agency. Make sure you follow the right guidelines! If not, it could potentially lead to an immediate rejection.

2. Write a query using the agent's guidelines. Do they have a specific format? Follow that. Do they want to know about your book before they know about you? Start with the blurb for your story and move into the description of the book, and end with a paragraph about you. If the agent's guidelines are looser than you like, try to get a feel for that agent's personality. Check out their Twitter, blog, or try to find any examples of query letters they've received and liked. Some agents post their favorite client queries on their blogs, and it's extremely helpful! Also, if an agent's guidelines say to include a sample of your work or a synopsis (or both) paste it in the body of the email below your query, unless the agent says otherwise. Most agencies do not accept attachments they haven't asked for, and if you send them one, you'll more than likely get rejected without a second glance at your query.

3. Don't send a mass email! If you're going to query more than one agent at once, do not send one email to multiple agents addressed as "Dear Agent." That is just... no. Don't do that. Instead, follow the two steps above for each agent individually. If you write a query for one agent and you really like it, it's okay to use that query for a different agent (so long as it still follows that agent's guidelines) but it's also good to try and mix up your letter every once in a while.

4. Let it sit! Once you have your letter written and everything is ready to go, let it sit overnight. Give your brain a rest from worrying about whether or not it's perfect! Relax, go outside, hang out with friends, read a book, binge-watch The Office on Netflix--it doesn't matter what you do. Just give yourself a break.

Well I don't know about you, but I really want to go watch The Office now. Check back next Tuesday for the final post in this series, where we'll talk all about the big moment of sending out your query, the waiting process, and dealing with your response.

"For which of you, desiring to build a tower, does not first sit down and count the cost, whether he has enough to complete it?" Luke 14:28