More often than not, querying an agent is like gambling. A dilemma a lot of writers face is the challenging process of querying an agent. You query (or place a bet) on the agent most likely to be interested by your manuscript, and wait to see if you’ve hit a bull’s eye. The problem is, with the thousands of agents out there, the millions of manuscripts, the bull’s eye keep getting smaller by the second.
The industry is growing and progressing, the agents are getting pickier by the day, even as their ‘slush’ pile keep growing uncontrollably. Rejections flow like water, a request is like gold and a contract like a rare jam.
So how do you catch their attention?
To help you improve your chances, I’ve done a research of multiple agent’s interviews and bios, and compiled a few points that could help your chances with an agent improve. Below are a few things you should consider before submitting your query letter and sample pages to an agent:
1- When writing a query letter, consider your blurb carefully. Imagine yourself picking up a book on the store and reading the back cover. Will you buy it if it’s not really interesting? The agent’s inbox – or slush pile is like that book store. If you write a blurb that is ‘catchy enough’, the agent will want to read more.
2- Read the first few pages of the sample you’re submitting. A lot of agents ask for a minimum of five pages to check the style of your writing. Consider the first five pages. Remember the blurb? Now imagine yourself picking up a book with an interesting blurb and thumbing through the first few pages. Wouldn’t you want to read more if the first few pages are interesting enough?
Remember, you’re on a bookstore with thousands of other options, the agent’s inbox is like that bookstore. I’m not telling you to change the entire story, no, just put some interesting scenes in, that will catch the attention of the agent and make them want to keep reading.
3- Don’t brag. Never tell the agent your book is great, or that your entire family and friends loved it. Let the agent be the judge. And no, don’t show insecurity either.
4- Research. Don’t query left and right. Find the agent that best suits your work. Genre, target audience, the agent’s preferences and interest. Agent’s usually list all that on their bio pages, add a wish list on twitter, or social media. Check it out, even if it’ll take time. Patience usually pays.
5- Do as they ask. If an agent asks for a sample chapter, send it. A one page synopses, write one if you didn’t already. If your synopsis is five pages long? Well, Write a new one. If the agent doesn’t ask for any sample work, just a simple query letter then don’t send any. Be sure though to not only check the submission guidelines, but the agent’s bio and social links for any additional requests.
6- Keep an eye out for new agents. Why? Because new agents are new. They are building a list of authors they want to represent and you might as well be one of them.
How can you know? Usually they are announced on the agencies page. But you can also read about them on the ‘new agent’s alert’ in the Writer’s Digest page.
Remember, place your bet carefully, and good luck!