Hey everyone! As you know I got to partake in the Philadelphia Writing Workshop last weekend. It was a two day event with lots of different speakers. I already posted some of the notes I took for the first day last Saturday and today I’d like to share with you my notes from day two. I hope you find this helpful!
Seeking Representation; Next Level Querying by Sera Rivers
- Before you query, have other writers in your genre review your novel.
- When writing the query letter you need to include:
- Word count
- Author Bio
- A specific reason you’re querying that agent (you want to stand out)
- When pitching your story
- Introduce your main character and setting
- Introduce main character’s wants and goals and the stakes involved in reaching them.
- Be specific bout events in the story. Don’t use any words or phrases that can be taken many different ways.
- Don’t give away the ending. (Advice that was given to me was to leave it hanging on a Hero’s Dilemma).
- Writing your Bio
- Include relevant information like any writing awards, achievements, education, etc.
- Add any personal connect to your project like if your main character suffers from a disorder your share, etc.
- If you don’t have any degrees, DON’T WORRY. Anyone can be a writer.
- If you have writing experience that is dated, don’t include it. Only include recent writing achievements.
- When writing a Synopsis:
- Include every relevant main character
- Hit all your plot points
- Give away the ending! Tell how your characters have changed/grown
- Do your research on agents before you query!
- Find agents by checking the acknowledgement sections in books in your genre
- Check Conference Faculty Lists.
- Scout Twitter for Literary Agents lists.
- It’s okay to professionally stalk them.
- Check out their agency.
- What’s on their Manuscript Wishlist?
- Follow their Twitter for updates and querying process.
- How to Query:
- Tailor each query to each agent. Make sure you use the correct pronouns.
- Change reasons for querying, make it relevant: “Because a book like mine is on your Manuscript Wishlist.” “Because you like dog stories.” “Because you’re interested in Alice in Wonderland meets Dark Shadows type stories.” Etc. Etc. Etc.
- FOLLOW ALL GUIDELINES! If they want your query in an email, send it by email. If they only want the first page, only send the first page. Follow the guidelines or your query ends up in the trash.
- FREAK OUT after you hit send. You just did a huge and brave thing! Congratulations! Have your moment, then go back to normal life because publishing is a SLOW process.
- When following up:
- Check your agent’s guidelines. Quite often some will say: “If you don’t hear back within this much time then consider it a no.” Respect the no.
- If they don’t have that stipulation and you haven’t heard anything, Reply All or Forward your original email to the agent to refresh their memory of your project. Be polite and professional at all times.
- If you’ve decided to not go with that agent, let them know.
- Getting a Full Request (hopefully we all get one someday)
- Follow your agent’s guidelines on how they want the full manuscript request submitted.
- Wait out the timeline. It can take months for the agent to get back to you. They have to prioritize their other clients first.
- If you get similar feedback for revisions and you agree, send the revised version to the agent requesting the full manuscript. Best they read the latest version.
- The Offer of Representation:
- You will receive a phone or video call from the agent. That is their chance to interview you and your chance to interview them.
- Some common questions:
- What are you looking for in an agent?
- Do you have other projects?
- Be professional, take deep breaths, the agent is just as excited and nervous as you are.
- Ask to review the client contract
- Reach out to other agents you’ve queried to let them know you have an offer.
- Review the contract in full before signing.
- Email your agent with follow up questions. Sometimes, in the midst of an interview you can’t think of anything to ask. It’s okay to email them questions you think of afterwards.
- Respond to an agent by the deadline you gave them. If you need a couple days to think it over, make sure to respond within those couple days.
- Let other agents know when you signed.
- Sera Rivers, a literary agent and speaking of this webinar, stated her belief that there is an agent out there for every book. I, personally, found this encouraging.
- When you requery an agent (so you’ve queried them before and got rejected, but you made major improvements/changes on your novel, you want to query again), make sure you let the agent know by saying: “I’ve queried you a couple years ago, but have made significant changes since then.”