All the Ways You Can Query Agents

  • By: Jessica Faust | Date: Jan 18 2022

One of the benefits of the tech world is the variety in ways you can query agents. Back in the day of BookEnds’ beginnings, there was one way and one way alone: snail mail. You had to fold your query letter into a #10 envelope, buy stamps and trust the postal service to deliver. Then you waited. For the SASE (self-addressed stamped envelope) you included with your letter to return to you with either a rejection or request.

And you thought publishing today was slow.

While the preferred method to contact agents is still the query letter, now there are a number of ways agents accept those, and then of course there are also Twitter pitch events, conferences, Zoom conferences, and just chatting back and forth on social media.

Email Query Letters

I’m not going to go into great detail on what a query letter is. We can easily link to all of those previous posts. Instead, I want to talk about how you send query letters.

I don’t know of any agents who still accept snail mail queries, especially in this time of Covid when most are working from home. But I certainly remember when BookEnds switched over to email queries and other agents looked at us with shock wondering (dramatically I might add) how that worked. Looking back is funny.

Most agents accept queries via email and if you’re emailing a query they expect it to be copied into the body of the email. No attachments, please. It’s just a vehicle for viruses and an extra step for agents. Email format is different from snail mail. instead of your name and address at the top, place them in your signature. In fact, set up your entire query as a signature with just key points you need to update and change (like the agent’s name).

Query Manager

I’m thrilled to say that more and more agents and agencies are switching over to Query Manager. We made the change over five years ago and can’t believe how incredibly helpful and efficient it is. It gives us so much more information about the book and author and allows us to respond with greater ease–which is a benefit to all authors.

Your letter in query manager can be exactly the same as the one you are emailing. The difference with query manager is you’ll also need to fill out some form information requested by the agent. This always includes your title, word count, genre (from a checklist the agent provides), and name. Some agents might also ask for sample material, social media accounts, or other personal insights.

Give them what you can and (quick hint) if your book doesn’t fit into one of the checklist categories, move on to another agent. They aren’t right for you.

Twitter Pitch Events

I’m not going to go into the list of all the available pitch events. I’ll miss some and someone will get upset. Instead, I’ll just tell you there are a lot and they are definitely worth checking out, but they should never be your only go-to when it comes to querying.

In a Twitter pitch, you are allowed 280 characters to pitch your book. This is far different from a query letter, but like the query, an excellent exercise to test the hook of your book. Can you sell your book in 280 characters? If not, do you need to reconsider your hook?

During pitch events, editors and agents will “like” (click on the heart) of your pitch as a way of requesting more material. Now the downside of pitch events, versus the old-fashioned query, is sometimes you lose track of all the likes and other times, missing agents who might have liked the book. The other downside is not all agents attend (most don’t have time) or even see your pitch.

It’s why we always recommend you have fun with the pitch events, but also keep querying to make sure you’re getting in front of the agents you want to get in front of.

Now if I’m missing any key ways you can query agents please let me know in the comments. Otherwise keep reading the blog for my tips on what makes a strong query and how to query.

Good luck!

5 responses to “All the Ways You Can Query Agents”

  1. Way Number One: buy for her blushing pink roses and two pounds of fudge.

  2. Avatar Dita says:

    Thank you Jessica, this is helpful to know that I should put my name after the signature. Your you tube videos help too.

  3. Avatar Lennon Faris says:

    I recently went to my first writer’s conference and attended two pitch sessions with agents. (You are one-on-one with an agent and you verbally tell them about your book for 10 minutes, and they request pages if they are interested).

    This was virtual, so I can’t compare to a ‘live’ conference, but the zoom pitch sessions were helpful for me. I really like being able to see an agent’s reactions real-time. Since my pitch only took up a couple minutes, I also asked their advice about a couple questions I had about my story / writing. Even though it was only ten minutes total (less than that on one), I have a better feel for who they are as agents and people.

    You still have to send in your writing, and that’s what will really count. But the writing world can feel surreal, and can make you feel invisible, when you query and receive either form replies (hey at least that’s something!) or (much worse) no reply at all.

    I saw a few posts on conference-pitching here in this awesome blog and I understand it may not always yield great results from an agent’s perspective. But to me, it made the writing world seem more real and human, and gave me motivation and direction in my writing. I would definitely recommend!

  4. Avatar the bright suit guy minneapolis says:

    1 It is really cool to interact with authors here is where I disagree it seems as most agents don’t take emails they use that query manager. Now it is true I wrote using red bic pens 220000 word dramsoiredy no I’m not trying to pitch you I have zero grammar ability zero computer ability now as an industry that keeps saying they want to work with marginalized people etc the fact that I can’t figure out how to do copy and paste etc shouldn’t keep me from the process. Now I am a once in a generational salesperson I just was trying to query Lucinda Literary when boom out nowhere copy and paste first 25 pages and I’m sol. However it is also 1 Lit agent ae 1st and oemost salespeople time an time again I see book on their website and go read reviews when book is 3.0-3.5 out of 5 goodreads that is average at best it doesn’t create much confidence in me as a writer. 2 And Lucinda is great example I read reviews on Be Straight with Me it had a whopping 171 reviews? That author isn’t quiting their day job. My guess? A lit agency that said “listen once you get an agent we are incredibly valuable but that being case we don’t really know what is good or bad book if we did we wouldn’t have so many 3.3 reviews and also alot books we rep sell very little. I have sorta seen that but not much. Point being Were i able to pitch Lucinda 1 there are 100s gay bars 2 there are 100s gay book stores imagine if a world class salesman called them all asked “you are framiliar with Will and Grace correct? Let me sell you a story. Its the old zig ziglar in order to get what you want help others to get what they want. Anyway I have enjoyed reading your posts and at the end of the day a chance encounter age 40 with novel 2 hands grasping changed my life I have now read 650 the last The Anomaly that was interesting

  5. Avatar Jerry E. Bustin says:

    I read about all the agents on your website. There was no mention of any kind that stated they accept WESTERN FICTION NOVELS. My question is; if you DO accept westerns, to which agent? Many new authors have no way to find agent’s info, so they self-publish on amazon. Is it true that traditional publishing companies will accept books that were self-published?