Wednesday, March 25, 2009

In Which I Wave the Magic Query Wand

I recently created an 30 page early reader children's book and have begun the process of looking for an agent.
There's the first problem. Don't talk about number of pages. Talk about number of words.
1a.) Is a hard copy of a query letter recommended over an email? Can you clarify what is preferred?
There's your second problem: I don't know the answer to this, because I don't know who you're querying. Everyone is different. Some agents prefer hardcopy; others prefer email. You should find out what the agents you want to query would like from you.
1b.) I work in the internet industry and was wondering if I could create a very simple website with a flip through of the book that would show all copy and images. Within an email query, I could paste a URL that the agent could click on to take them to the site to review the work. It seems like a very simple way to show the agent the book and what I'm all about and save time on both sides as the review would take five minutes instead of the mail it in, wait in the pile, usual procedure.
Take it from me, you are not the first person to think of this. But if you'll take my advice, you may in fact be the very first person to think better of it. I promise-- cross my heart and hope to die!-- that the method of querying that each agent requests (whether hardcopy, email, or hot air balloon) is what is easiest for them.

If you can think of a method that seems like it would be easier than the requested method, what that really means is that you think it would be easier for you in that position. But they know what is easiest for them.

Show them you can play ball. Show them you can read instructions, and did a modicum of research before querying. Show them you want to work with them. What many a querier shows agents is, instead, that he only wants to work with himself.

Wish granted!


Anonymous said...

Always follow the rules regarding HOW to submit. Other rules, you may be able to bend a bit. For example, including the first five pages of your work (pasted in the body of an email if querying via email... no attachments) is usually fine, even if the rules are "query only."

Jo Treggiari said...

Thanks for the great advice as usual. With so many agents having their own websites these days, it's so much easier to keep up with individual preference. No more flipping through reference books which may be out of date.

Erin Cabatingan said...

Thanks for this post. While I have never considered a website, there have been times when I've found an agent who will accept email, but says they prefer snail mail. I've often been tempted to send them an email because that is easier for me. Now, I'll stop being tempted (and stop being lazy) and send it whichever way the agent prefers. Because I really do want to work with someone besides myself.


Anonymous said...

Don't send an email unless that's what the agent or editor asks for. I don't give out my email addresses at conferences so any unsolicited email I receive I just delete. Why? Because I have a limited amount of space on my email system, and most of it is taken up with sketches and pdfs and other files for books I'm currently working on. We also get many emails in a day and so if I can't look at a manuscript right away, it quickly gets buried in my inbox, and I may never see it again until someday when I have a free hour (ha!) to sort through old emails.

Jolie said...

This writer sounds as if they've already got illustrations for their manuscript. Isn't it usually a mistake to try to sell a pre-planned "book," with copy and illustrations? Aren't you supposed to stick with just the text and let your publisher decide who will illustrate it?

Editorial Anonymous said...

Yes, that's true, Jolie. Unless you're a professional illustrator yourself. And even then it's a good idea to let publishers know they can choose a new illustrator if they want to.

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