DJ: It depends on your genre. Some say your novel has to be a standalone, but I’ve been successful querying a trilogy.
JC: It’s okay to mention that your novel has series potential, but you can go too far with this. I was once queried with a nine book series. That was too much.
SB: It’s good to know the career potential of the author, though.
DJ: Focus on one book in your query.
JC: It’s a business letter.
KB: It’s your pitch. Three sentences. Short, punchy, and pithy.
JC: Think about the backbone of your book. That’s your through line.
JG: You’re not selling to a reader. You’re selling to an agent or publisher. Don’t tease.
SB: The basic structure of a query letter is three paragraphs: pitch, comps, and bio.
JC: You need to mention genre, word count, and title.
DJ: You could write: I am seeking representation for TITLE, a GENRE novel, complete at LENGTH (in thousands of words, rounded to the nearest thousand). I actually got my agent through a logline contest for Ms. Snark.
JC: Sometimes you don’t need an agent, though.
KB: Small Canadian publishers, no. Big publishers or genres, yes. Anything in the States, yes.
DJ: I’d die without my agent. She takes care of things
SB: Sometimes, it depends on the agent.
DJ: I’d recommend Query Tracker.
JG: Spell check, for God’s sake. You have two sentences to hook an agent or editor.
DJ: Your first five to ten pages must be perfect.
JC: We know you’re human, though. We’ll overlook something small.
JG: There are lots of library books that will help you.
DJ: Online critique groups can help as well.
Q: How do I know the agent is reputable?
DJ: Writer Beware, Preditors & Editors, and Absolute Write are three sites where you can check out questionable agents, agencies, or scams. If you post on social media or forums, don’t bitch about being rejected.
Q: How many queries do you receive and how many of those do you read?
JC: We have readers, so I don’t see them all, but everyone I receive, I read.
Q: You’ve published several books. Do you still slave over your letters?
JG: Yes. Every time.