The time I spent having a local editor critique my query letter and help me focus on the target audience for my book was money well spent. (See previous blog by Rebecca Gernon) Catherine was an acquisitions editor of Young Adult and Children’s books for 10 years, so her advice was grounded in experience.
Her Best Tip: Limit your query letter to 1/2 page. In the letter give the word count, genre, and a 2-3 sentence plug for your book. No need to tell an agent you have website, blog, twitter, etc. unless you have 10,000 followers. Catherine said, “You don’t want the agent spending time reading your query, you want them to read what you have submitted.”
Another one of her suggestions, which I knew, was: submit your query to agents who have published authors who write books similar to yours. My question, “How do I discover who an author has used for their agent?” She suggested the library.
I spent several hours reading acknowledgements in books that include humor similar to the kind I wrote in The Whole Plot’s Crazy, and discovered only three authors who thanked their agents. I came home discouraged.
“Where will I ever find who specific authors use for their agents?”
I contemplated calling my sister, who is a librarian but knew she would probably send me web links for more research. I was in no mood for more aimless research.
I tossed myself a big pity party. Knew I was a failure. Told myself I would never sell another book or article. That it was pointless to keep trying. That everyone else has an easier writing life than I do. No point trying. Just give up.
Who was tearing me down, making me feel depressed? Yep, Satan. He loves to make us feel unworthy, that’s his game and I bought into it for several hours.
Then I said, “God help me. I have no idea where to find information about agents individual authors use.”
I picked up my iPad. One humor writer I was researching was Laurie Notaro. I typed her name in a search engine. Plenty of websites appeared, but none were helpful. Then I typed “Laurie Notaro Literay Agent.”
The result astonished me. Query Tracker, a website I have used for selecting agents popped up and had an alphabetical listing of authors and who their agents are. Hot Spot! Thank you God. Phooey on you Satan for feeding my depression. Who represents who Check out this helpful website.
So if you are ready to write your query letter, research writers who are similar to your writing, and then contact their agent with a SHORT query, telling them you are contacting them because they represent XYZ, and your writing is similar to XYZ. Good Luck.
P.S. I didn’t forget to thank God. I hope you remember to thank him for his little blessings too.