In my publishing post, someone wanted to know how to get an agent. Don’t worry, those writing posts won’t be a weekly thing (I can almost see those of you that don’t write packing your bags and thinking “I gotta get out of here!”) Don’t worry. We’re thinking of doing monthly writing posts, though, if there’s a demand for it. Would you guys like us to take some kind of poll?
Anyway, there are two ways to find an agent, for reasons I cover below, I’m discussing the query letter. Basically, it is a letter designed to get an agent to read your book. It contains several parts, including:
- A hook.
- Description of the book.
- Mention of title, genre, how long the book is.
- Mention of who you are. (I talk about this more below.)
Also, now would be a good time to mention I’ve never queried an agent. BUT I have read some articles about it, and can share the advice I’ve learned.
Here is a (bad) example I threw together:
Dear Mr. INSERT AGENT NAME HERE,
Wagon trains are heading west because they need to hide the fact that they can read minds, not because of farm land.
When Anna Smith is forced to head to Oregon with her parents on the wagon train, she is happy that they will be going west to a small community where everyone knows about her abilities—however, most of the trip will be spent with strangers, who do not know what Anna can do. When one of them discovers her power—and Anna discovers in the process his shady post—she must work to protect both herself and her family—as well as the man she loves, who is ignorant to what is going on.
ON THE WAY WEST is a historical young adult fantasy completed at 80, 000 words, and is available on request. I have read AWESOME BOOK AGENT ALREADY REPRESENTS #1 and AWESOME BOOK AGENT REPRESENTS #2 and love both.
Allison Pointer is a college student who enjoys writing novels in her spare time. When not writing, she can be found reading, horseback riding, and playing with her nephew. She is a member SCBWI, and enjoys blogging about YA books at Verbosity Book Reviews, a book blog that gets about 1000 hits a month.
MY PHONE NUMBER
A few things about this example:
- This isn’t a stellar example of a query letter. I picked a book idea I decided not to work on last nanowrimo and used that as an example.
- Some people start the query letter with stuff like title/genre/word count, however, I agree with what Shannon Messeger says on her blog, which is to hook ‘em early. Other people say put title/genre/word count right away so the agent can know if your book interests them. I say, it’s up to you. BUT keep in mind that I’m not an expert, you might want look at a bunch of the querying links I’m leaving below.
- Obviously, places where I have put things like have AWESOME BOOK AGENT ALREADY REPRESENTS #1 is where you put books that the agent already represents. This shows them that you’ve done research about them, and didn’t just pick the first agent’s name you saw on a list. Same for MY EMAIL, MY PHONE NUMBER, you’re going to want to put your email/phone number. I just didn’t put mine up, ‘cause, yeah, it’s the internet.
- The last paragraph is to give them an idea of who you are. If you live in the setting where you book takes place, it would probably be a good idea to mention that, a writing association you’re a member of (like SCBWI), any articles you have published, and if you want to include it, stuff like hobbies–also helpful to mention if you’re writing a book about, say, horses and you’ve been riding horses since you were ten.
- Get people to proof read your book in general. You NEED betas.
- Obviously, get people to proof read your query letter before sending it out. Don’t mass email a ton of agents the same generic query, as that’s not personal, and make sure you spell their name right, and get their gender right, etc. For women I would recommend going with Dear Ms. [Insert name here.] Ms. is safe if you don’t know if a woman is married or not.
- Most people that I’ve looked into have met their agent at a writers conference, and queried them later. I think that has a higher success level that just plain querying (probably because it’s more personal.) but I decided to cover querying in this post because it’s something anyone with a computer and a decent IQ level can do. I don’t know if all you lovely readers can afford a writer’s conference, so I didn’t bring it up. 😉
- I mention Verbosity in the post because if you have a platform (AKA potential readers, who follow your blog, twitter etc) you should mention that, as well as stats.
- Here are some helpful links: Link 1, link 2, and link 3
- Again, another reminder that I’ve never queried, and am just sharing advice I’ve seen.