What is a query letter?
A query letter is a professional letter or email writers who want to be traditionally published send to literary agents- but only sent once a manuscript is completed and polished.
What are literary agents?
A literary agent is a cross between a career manager and a lawyer for a writer. An agent is necessary in order to be traditionally published through a major publishing house.
Do I need a literary agent? Aren’t their jobs becoming unnecessary as the industry changes?
A lot depends on what publishing path is best for your career, but many people argue that career writers benefit from having the knowledge and expertise of an agent available to them.
Agents: A Dying Breed? from Steve Laube, president of the Steve Laube Agency, shows a glimpse of what an agent’s day includes besides reading queries and manuscripts.
A Day in the Life of an Agent from Janet Kobobel Grant, president of Books & Such Literary Agency, shows step-by-step what she does with her day.
How do I find representation with a literary agent?
Finish a book and polish it, write and perfect a query letter, research agents who represent your genre, and send your queries! Persistence and hard work pay off.
To find listings of agents, check out the Association of Authors’ Representatives, or Publishers Marketplace. I love Publishers Marketplace. It’s $20 a month, but subscribers receive an emailed deal report listing which agents have sold what project to which editor lately. I can use the dealmakers search to look up agent and make sure they are reputable. I can see not only what they’ve sold and the size of the deal, but I can also search for agents who have sold my genre. Not every deal is reported to PM, but it’s still a great way to find reputable agents. Additionally, hundreds of agents have pages listing what they’re looking for and a little about themselves. Plus, you get the Publishers Lunch Deluxe, a version of the Publishers Lunch newsletter with even more content. Definitely worth it for while you’re querying. It makes finding agents easy, and there’s plenty of info there to help you personalize your query letter.
Even brilliant writers frequently have to send many, many queries before finding an agent because agents can only afford to take on projects. Here’s something on dealing with all the “no, thank you”s before you find that “Yes!”: Handling the Rejection Blues.
How Do I Write A Query Letter?
Read real queries with an agent’s critiques over at Query Shark
Getting your query critiqued is an important part of preparing to query. A number of writers offer critiquing services. (Click the “Critique Services” tab above to see what I offer for queries.) Lauren Spieller comes highly recommended, and writers can participate in “The Saturday Slash,” public critiques by author Mindy McGinnis for free.
Here’s a video with worthwhile content about standard book advances, working with a backlist, the author-agent relationship, and traditional publishing vs. self-publishing. Additionally, it discusses how NYT bestselling author Brendon Burchard earned his multiple 7-figure book deals. A Chat with Folio Literary Management and Brendon Burchard
More information and tools coming soon!