Monday, October 22, 2012

Agency Lessons

Let's talk for a minute about queries. I've recently started diving into the query slush pile. And while I love the excitement of hoping each new email holds something really fantastic, most of the time I'm sorely disappointed.

Here's the worst part. I'm not bummed because we aren't getting good stories. I'm bummed because so many of them don't follow directions. I've heard some agents claim that 50% of the queries they get don't follow the submission guidelines posted on the agency website. Honestly, this number feels low to me. I'd put it more around 75%.

At the agency where I'm interning, we actually give writers a do-over. If your submission doesn't follow directions we send you a handy email back detailing exactly what was wrong and invite you to send us a fresh new query. It's like the first one never happened.

However, most agencies don't work that way. If your query doesn't follow the rules, it's an auto-reject, no questions asked. This may sound harsh, but it's really just a survival mechanism. I've experienced first hand how much time it takes to respond to queries that don't include what was asked for. Additionally, some agents may see this inability to follow directions as a sign that an author is either unprofessional or may be hard to work with.

I may be preaching to the choir here, but for the love of all things holy, do yourself a favor and follow the submission guidelines. I promise that it puts you way ahead at the starting gate. If you aren't sure about a specific guideline, ask. Most agents are on Twitter or FB and several have places on their websites where you can ask questions.

For those of you who are in slush pile hell, what method do you use to keep track of submission guidelines for all the agents you are querying?


  1. When I was querying, I visited agent blogs to see exactly what they wanted and how they wanted it. It takes more time, but I think I got more requests because of it. Agents are busy. They deserve having writers take the time to query them correctly.

  2. What agency are you interning for? Are they looking for ya contemporary romance?

    I use query tracker to keep track

    1. Beth, I'm at Corvisiero Literary Agency www.corvisieroagency.com

      Our agents recently got added to QueryTracker so they are on there now.

  3. I have a whole word document with agents on it, and why I want to query that specific agent plus I follow the guidelines to the exact detail.

    I just started querying, no responses of any kind yet but hopefully the work I've put in will pay off :)

    1. Good luck, Patrice. All that hard work is bound to pay off eventually!

  4. I'm not looking for an agent presently, by a couple of years ago I queried several for my YA story. If they had a website, I went there to see their guidlines and also books they represented. Agent Query is good too. You're so right about following the guidlines. I will if I decide to query again. Thanks.

  5. I think it's a little daunting for writers because submission methods vary so greatly, but that doesn't mean you shouldn't take the time to read the directions carefully and follow them. It's cool that your agency gives a do-over. I know I've had a "d'oh!" moment or two when it comes to contacting agents.


Share the love, man...

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...