How to Query an Agent

How to Query an Agent

Nina Romano

So many writers I know are trying to  get an agent.

I don’t know what your book is about or the title, however, I sure do know a lot about trying to get an agent. I had one in 2003, but we parted ways.  Howevr, the point is that I wrote over 100 query letters and could teach a course on how to query!

I used to get notices on my queries about how great they were! Not a lot of acceptances, though. Agents are so skeptical and unless they think you’re book has great possiblities for sales or will be the next blockbuster best-seller, they’re usually going to pass. Most of the rejections I received were not because they didn’t like my writing–some said it was solid, lyrical, enchanting,  engaging, or whatever,  and they liekd my story, but they weren’t sure how to market the novel…go figue! I sure learned how to do that on my own.

But here’s what I did  for the query letters … I used the Writer’s Guide to Lliterary Agent and Publishers (always the current year). I checked off every possible agent I thought would be interested in: historical, womens, romance, etc…whatever genre you think you could possibly draw attention to.  I crossed-reference everyone I wrote to by checking their online status and agencies.

Next , I addressed each letter to each agent, personally. I researched their client lists and published books and tried to make a connection to my novel. I have a decent publishing track record, which I always included either in the letter, or online query, or email. I had a synopsis of the book: single-spaced one page–that’s all agents want to see. If the agent wanted the material in the body of the email, that’s what I did–if they wanted it attached, that’s what I did.  READ what each and every agent you’re querying wants and is looking for as to material of the novel and how to submit it!

Whenever I could, I sent to agents who would consider reading the first 3 chapters or 50 pages.  Make sure you have a great first line to capture your reader–a first paragraph and first page that is going to make the reader, in this case, agent, go on reading.

My letters were one page only–they don’t want a long sob story about how you got all A+ in every MFA course you took! You need a great grabber hook for a first sentnece of the query letter, a bit about the book–a sentnece or two–the elevator pitch.

Today, if you fail to get an agent, I recommend going with small, independent publishers like I did–publishers who take unagented material for submissions. I think self-publishing should be your last resort–my humble opinion.  Any questions–don’t hesitate to write me a DM on Twitter @ninsthewriter or  Direct Message on Facebook:  Nina Romano, author.   Wishing you much good luck and every possible success.