Tips and resources for writers as you prepare to query literary agents. #Querying #Query #QueryTips #writers #writing #amquerying
Prepare To Query
So, you’re headed into the query trenches. You’ll want to give yourself the best possible chance at snagging the elusive literary agent. Settle in with a cup of our favorite beverage and check out these tips and resources.
As mentioned previously, I’m a Plantser. I don’t create an outline and strictly follow each step. Rather, I allow my characters to take me on a journey. I have bullet point ideas and a general sense of where the story needs to go, then create a post-writing outline. But along with this, I also do a lot (and I mean a lot) of editing and revising along the way.
While I wrote the last 8–10 chapters of TIME’S UP FOR FATHER TIME, I did write a query blurb and synopsis. They helped me tie the twisted pieces of my mystery together. Then I used a chalkboard to visualize and keep me on track for the end of my book.
During that end-of-the-book-writing time, I researched everything I could about querying. I’d write in the mornings and spend my evenings with Jessica Faust and James McGowan on the BookEnds YouTube Channel.
Query Tracker is an amazing tool helping writers research literary agents. Find those that represent novels in your genre with links to other relevant websites for further individual research. You can also find helpful information on response times for queries and requested materials for specific agents. Query Tracker also has a forum where you can chat with other authors, ask questions, and workshop your query, synopses, and first pages. Sign-up for a premium membership. It’s well worth the $25/year.
And then, thanks to BookEnds, I discovered Airtable. I used the cloud-based database to organize and track my revisions, beta readers, post-beta revisions, agent and agency research, and now my query process. What a game-changer over an Excel spreadsheet. I can upload the documents I send to agents, use views to sort and organize information, set up to-do lists with progress status, and so much more. But my favorite part over Excel is that I can post a large chunk of text into a cell, and it doesn’t skew my entire spreadsheet. I click on the cell, and it will open a window that shows the whole text. LOVE it!
Other helpful websites
Writer’s Digest—Monday Motivation, Wednesday Wisdom, Great tips, and literary agents actively seeking writers and their writing.
Publisher’s Marketplace—I used a free trial to research who represents specific authors in my writing genre. You can sign-up for the free Publisher’s Lunch daily news and some deals. Consider purchasing a one-month subscription when you are nearing an offer of representation so you will have access to the full Publisher’s Marketplace sight to help in your agent decision. Cost: $25/month.
Agency Websites & Agent Blogs—Check out what they are looking for. How they like things done. Read the submission guidelines carefully. Be prepared to query.
Query Shark—How to write a query. Excellent tips!
Pub(lishing) Crawl—How to write a 1-page synopsis. Once you’ve got it cut to the bones, you can expand as needed. This makes synopses so much easier.
Writing Association Websites—Many writing organizations have helpful information available to the general public, and even more so to members. Check them out.
The final step as you prepare to query
After you’ve sent your blood and bone–I mean manuscript—out to beta readers, focus on finalizing your query letter and synopses (Yes, two of them, a 1-page version and a 2-3 page version).
Go over all of your research and select agents to query for your first two batches, at least. Personalize their query letters if desired. Staying busy helps as you wait for beta replies.
As your beta feedback rolls in, do the edits. Many of these will be the same forgotten end quote or typo. Compile a list on Airtable of the bigger beta issues to resolve. Once all post-beta revisions are finished, do a FINAL read-through.
But don’t start querying yet. Prepare your documents. Make sure the formatting is correct. Make copies in Word and PDF formats. Have several versions ready to paste/click/send (first 5 pages, first 10 pages, first 50 pages, first chapter, first 3 chapters, full manuscript, etc.) You don’t want to make an agent who shows interest in your project wait because you are not prepared.
Best of luck!