Yesterday I began a little rant about the stresses and anxiety inducing moments involved in querying an agent. And I didn't even get to the querying part. It's time to take a look at that now. If you're an aspiring author, take heart. This can be a really depressing part.
So what I've been told and what I've read from agents is this: they want to represent your book. They're not looking for people to reject, but it has to fit them. You can't submit a paranormal romance erotica to someone who does adventure YA. It's not their field. And that's where today's research comes in.
Once you've scoured the internets and found at least a handful of agents who might give you the time of day, it's time to research them. Follow them on social media. Get to know what they like and dislike. Why? I mean you already know what they represent. Unfortunately, young grasshopper, that is not the end. You need a query letter, and you better believe that thing cannot be boiler plate.
Every agent wants things a little differently, there are no universal standards for submissions. Almost all want a query letter, something to tell them about you and your work before they do anything else. On top of that, they may want a synopsis, which is about a page that details the entire novel. The entire novel. Yes, the ending, too. They need to know how it ends if they plan on looking any deeper into you.
Once that's done, you may need a hook line. Or a blurb. And of course what they actually want you to send as far as your novel differs from agent to agent. Some don't want to see a page until they've read your query letter. Others want ten pages. Some want a few chapters. Practically none want the whole manuscript, so just be ready to have the entire work judged by the first few pages.
Okay, so you've research an agent, follow them on social media, seen some of their jokes, maybe liked a comment or two. You've gone to their agency website, ready clearly what they want you to send and not send. You've tailored your query letter to them. And I mean tailored. Address them by name, mention things they like that may be similar to your work, point out why they, personally, would like your work. Now what? Now you wait.
Guess how many will get back to you? Probably none. Most will have you wait 6-8 weeks before they even look at your stuff. What if they don't want it? Well, honestly, you'll probably never hear from them. At all. Some might be nice and send back a rejection letter, most won't. So now what? It's time to send a dirty, mean-spirited letter accusing them of having zero taste and the intelligence of a baboon. Wait, no that's wrong. It's time to be an adult and accept at criticism they send, work out your letter, and accept that they don't owe you an explanation as to why they rejected you. Let them be. Move on. You have more agents on your list, right? Right?
Keep your eyes open for my debut novel, The Paladin.