The Dos and Don’ts When Querying Literary Agents | iWriterly

Hey Literary Nerds! I’m Meg LaTorre-Snyder and today I’m here
to talk to you about the Dos and Don’ts of Querying! So if you’re watching this video, you’re probably
curious how to get your book traditionally published. Literary Agents are basically the gatekeepers
to the traditional publishing industry. You need to be represented by one of these
agents typically in order to have your books published by one of the big publishing houses. Literary agents, as you guys know, are super
busy people. They manage book contracts, work with clients
on editing their manuscripts, they go to conferences, manage HUMANS… They do all sorts of stuff, and they’re super
busy. And a lot of these literary agents also have
secondary jobs in addition to being a literary agent. Answering these unsolicited queries often
is one of the last things that these agents do, perhaps at the end of the day, or in between
meetings. Or in between tasks that they’re doing. So why am I telling you all of this? Essentially, you want to make every single
word in your query count and you want to make that query grab the literary agent’s attention,
because if they’re reading your query letter in between meetings it has to be really awesome
in order to catch their attention. Query letters are 300 word, one page document,
that you are trying to woo this literary agent into wanting to read your manuscript. Querying do number 1:
Research which agent is the best fit for your manuscript. Different agents are going to represent in
different age groups and genres, so not every single literary agent represents adult manuscripts,
or young adult manuscripts, middle-grade, picture book, and so on. And not every literary agent represents fantasy,
contemporary, thriller, science fiction (Sci-Fi), and so on. One of the biggest mistakes that I see writers
doing is submitting unsolicited queries to agents who either don’t represent in that
age group or genre, or to literary agents that are not open to unsolicited queries,
so make sure you not only review the submission guidelines on the literary agency website,
the general page, but also the submission guidelines for that specific literary agent,
because sometimes they differ! Side note:
When you submit to a literary agent at a specific agency, you want to be aware that you only
can submit to one literary agent per agency, so if that agent rejects your manuscript,
that means the entire agency is essentially saying thank you, but no thank you. Query Do, Number 2:
That doesn’t sound right… Due to? We want to address the agent directly. So you don’t want to write in your query letter
“Dear literary agent” or “To whom this may concern.” That is one of the agent pet peeves of today’s
age. But essentially you want to say “To”and that
specific person that you’re addressing it to, so you’re not only showing that you did
your research that this literary agent accepts what you’re submitting to them, but that you
also know how to spell their name correctly. Also, another pet peeve. Number 3 Querying Do:
Specify why you’re querying that specific agent. So a lot of times, literary agents have manuscript
wishlists that’s #MSWL, the hashtag thing on twitter, but essentially they say what
they want to receive. It could be a certain type of story within
a genre, or just certain genre and age group. In your query, usually kind of at the end
of the query, you want to say why you’re querying that specific literary agent. Maybe you wrote a thriller, and they accept
thrillers, or maybe you write in third person point of views (POV) and that person loves
third person point of views. Number 4: Paste your query into the body of an email
when you’re querying an agent. So for unsolicited manuscripts, you want to
send basically almost everything in the body of an email. Very few agents will accept attachments in
that email. Query Letters, like a cover letter are a job
application to literary agents so that you can show that you can be taken seriously and
that your work is awesome also. But essentially, when you’re sending a query
letter to an agent, put it in the body of the email because a lot of times, those emails
with attachments are automatically deleted. Formatting tips:
When you copy and paste your query into the body of the email, make sure that it’s all
the same font style and size. *Cough* *Cough*
No pictures in the query either, I’ve seen a few of those. And, at the bottom of your query, make sure
to include a signature. If you’re writing under a pen name, you probably
also want to include your real name, pen name, email, website, or blog (should you have one),
and twitter handle (if you don’t have one, you probably want to get one of those.) Query Do Number 5:
Follow the Submission Guidelines There are submission guidelines on the literary
agent’s website on the general part of their website, but there also are separate instructions
on the bio part of the website where you can learn about the specific literary agents at
that agency. So make sure you look at both, if they are
conflicting, Huge Hint Here! You probably want to follow the submission
guidelines on the specific literary agent’s, um, specifications versus the general page. Querying Do Number 6:
The file name of your attachments (should you include attachments, and that be on the
specified guidelines) need to be the name of your manuscript. So, like I said before, most agencies don’t
accept attachments when you send unsolicited queries. However, some do, and for those that do, make
sure you name your word document attachments, as the title of your manuscript, underscore,
and whatever it is. Could be a synopsis, could be the first 5
pages, first 10 pages, first 20 pages. Whatever it is, make sure the title of your
manuscript is in there, because, we do receive a lot of attachments and you want to be sure
we know it’s yours. Querying Do Number 7: Always check the submission guidelines for
what to put in the subject line of your email. A lot of folks will put simply “Query” in
the body of the email. “To” and the literary agent’s name or they
leave it blank, and that is awkward! Because we’re not sure if it’s spam, or if
it’s you. So! In order to make sure it’s you, and what you
are emailing for, you want to put typically, in the body of the email: “Query” the “Name of your Manuscript” the
genre, age group, and Attn: with whoever the name of that you are querying to. Querying Do Number 8:
Be Brief! As we’ve said before, literary agents are
super busy people. So, when you’re writing a query letter, be
super brief, and get right to the point. Don’t spend the entire time talking about
your spouse, your dog, or whatever else you are super passionate about in your life. And that’s cool if you are passionate about
those things, however, get right to the point of your story, and the meat of it, and entice
us about why we should want to ask for more pages. Querying Do Number 9:
You want to include the age group, genre, and word count of your manuscript. If you don’t have these pieces in your query
letter sometimes agents will automatically pass. Querying Don’ts that are not included in the
9. I think I have a thing with number 9… Querying Don’t
Don’t forward queries from one agency to another. Don’t include attachments if the agents or
agency says they will not accept attachments. Don’t include your query as an attachment
in the email. Ixnay on being rude to the agents or agency
if you don’t hear back from them right away. Don’t attach your full manuscript, if the
agent didn’t ask for it. And don’t skimp on the research prior to clicking
send on that query. Here are a few other weirdo, book publishing
query practices that you should be aware of. Your manuscript title should be in all caps
in your query. Queries should never exceed one word document
page. In the synopsis, the first time you mention
the character’s name, their name should be in all caps. Typically, a synopsis is one to two pages
in length, though this can vary. And, be sure to put one space and not two
after the end of each sentence. At the end of each sentence. This has been the Dos and Don’ts of Querying! Thanks for tuning in, if you like what you
saw, subscribe, like, comment, tell me what you want to hear about next time. And I think that’s it! Keep Writing!

33 Replies to “The Dos and Don’ts When Querying Literary Agents | iWriterly

  1. I listen to your videos like podcasts while driving! It's so nice to hear an inside perspective on writing/querying!

  2. very good video, gets to the point of things. Im happy to see that i didn't learn anything new, which means i have been querying properly lol

  3. Thanks that was a great video. Could you do a video about how to get started on querying, as in where can we find out info about agents and Twitter hashtags and stuff? That could be very helpful.. thanks

  4. This video is so helpful, didn't know I needed to capitalize character's names in my summaries first time they're mentioned. Screenplays are like that too so makes sense. (Memory by relation.)

  5. What about poems/ poetry/ literary compositions? Can I get a collection of 100 published? Can I get an agent for that? Please help. Do advise.

  6. If someone specifically requests a sample chapter or table of contents, would it be acceptable to add that as an attachment with the body of the synopsis?

  7. Hi Meg, I found your video very delightful! I'm working on a children's faith based book, and I've already been in touch with publishers, and all I have to do is sign a contract and submit the book to them. They will be illustrating it since I'm not an artist, and it would be ready by about April 2019. Going through a publisher means that it's "print on demand" which means that bookstores won't carry the book directly, but it can be ordered, and it would be on their website. Also, this publisher will give it a press release. My concern is that if my book is print on demand, then my book won't have very much exposure, and it certainly won't have shelf space given to it. A friend of mine told me that I should contact a literary agent, but many of them say the same thing "We are not receiving unsolicited manuscripts". If they are not receiving unsolicited manuscripts, how do I contact a literary agent? Also, what is their percentage, and how do they get paid? Again, my book is a children's book, and it's not divided in chapters. It's just sequential, and it will end up being about 800 words or so. There are agent websites that ask potential authors to submit X amount of pages of the book, but I don't want to submit anything without first contacting an agent. Do you know what I'm saying? Also, by using a literary agent, would my book be considered not self published? How many books did your agent get on the bookshelves of each store for you for your first book? Did you have to buy a certain amount of books to get them on those bookshelves at those stores? If I do submit a manuscript to an agent, should I go ahead and submit to multiple agents at the same time in the event the first agent rejects it? That way, my odds might be better of receiving an acceptance letter. I apologize for all the questions. Thank you so much!

  8. some agencies let you submit to multiple agencies. if it doesn't explicitly say that you can't submit to multiple agents, i'd heard that you can.

  9. The process of storytelling just gets worse and worse with each step in the literary world!😞😋 I love inventing the stories and working out the details, but the actual novel writing is a bit less fun. Then the line and copy editing is a chore. And then researching and submitting queries is horrible. After all of that, you sit and wait for non-responses, rejections, nibbles that go nowhere, etc. Maybe this next book will be the one that lands?😏😎

  10. Not clear. Many literary agencies state on their submission guidelines it is appropriate to submit to other agents within the same agency after a pass. Perhaps you should say that?

  11. Could you make a video of how to make a query letter shine brightly? Perhaps give an example of one that was most impressive.

  12. Extraterrestrial Composition 👽 🎶

  13. Querying question: Many agents request that an amount of pages from your manuscript be included in the email script. First 5 pages, first 5-10 pages, etc. The first such pages of what formatting though? Editing formatting, I know, generally prefers double-spacing, which of course would have a much different page count than single space. Font, margins, font size all make a difference in how many pages something is as well.

    Basically, I'd like to be sending the correct amount of manuscript requested and would like to know what formatting is considered the standard.

  14. Do you know where we unrepresented authors can reference lists of agents? Perhaps listed by genre? I have a found a few links by happenstance but whatever info you can give would be amazingly helpful. Thanks! -Tom Davis

  15. When submitting a query letter I’m confused, do you make a cover letter on something like Microsoft word and then attach that to the email. Or do you just type out your query in email and send it?

  16. This was brilliant. I have been sitting on a few manuscripts simply due to fear of submission. I think its time to lose my query viginity. I learned a few things here, which is exciting. This is the youtube algorithm gone right.

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