I was asked recently for a do or don’t tip for a writer’s conference presentation. Not surprisingly, I was inspired and easily found more than one.
1. Do get second reads on your query. There isn’t a pitch that leaves BookEnds without at least six pairs of eyes on it first. Most likely none of us have read the book so we’re reading the query the same way an editor (or in your case an agent) would. We are looking to see if it grabs our attention in such a way that we are left needing to read more. A query isn’t something that should be thought of as slapdash. I have personally spent days on one author’s pitch. And I do this for a living. An author should consider that the query needs the same amount of time and attention the manuscript gets.
2. Do consider that if your query isn’t working, that after days and days you still can’t get it right, then maybe the problem isn’t your ability to write a query, but the book itself. If the query seems scattered and unfocused maybe you need to take a second look at the manuscript to see if that’s what is really scattered and unfocused.
3. Don’t pick any random genre just to get your query into an agent’s inbox. In Query Manager we have each carefully selected the genres we represent so authors can easily check the box that best fits her book. If you say in your query that your book is fantasy, don’t try to spin it as magical realism just to get my eyes on it. I’m still going to reject, especially since we have a number of brilliant fantasy agents at BookEnds.
4. Do put most of your energy into your blurb. The blurb, not the synopsis, is the most valuable part of the query. It’s what I look at most and, often, the only thing I really care about. If you think you don’t need to write a blurb because of your platform or previous publishing credentials think again.
5. Do let your voice come through. Voice is almost always what grabs an agent’s attention first. If you can let that through in your query you’re giving the agent a sneak peek at the most valuable piece of your book.