She was incredibly encouraging and constructive, and offered us great insights into the dos and don’ts of querying!
So, here we go:
- DO include why you targeted that agent specifically in your query.
- DON’T include the whole manuscript in the email, unless they ask for it.
- DO add a beginning, middle, and END in your synopsis (which is NOT the query pitch. In a pitch, like the back cover of a book, it’s okay to keep them guessing).
- DON’T nudge the agent too early if you’re waiting for a response. Follow the guidelines set by their website.
- DO nudge them after the appropriate time, though. It’s not an imposition.
- DON’T list competing titles without saying WHY your book is different from them. Agents don’t want clones of books that are already on the marketplace.
- DO use a market guide! Ms. Schwartz recommended this one, this one, and this one.
- DON’T give an agent a full pitch if you only have 30 seconds. That’s called an “elevator pitch.” You should have multiple versions to use at a conference, depending on how much time you have.
- DO question the agent back! You’d be entering into a business relationship, so it’s important to make it a two-way interview.
- How many people work at your agency?
- Do you prefer editing and plot construction, or the legal side of things?
- Do you represent physical books or ebooks?
- Would you split me with someone (ie: you switch into a genre your agent doesn’t represent), or work with me exclusively my entire career?
- Are you more hands-on, or hands-off? (This is important, because you need to think about this going in! Ms. Schwartz stated she loves the hands-on stuff, and will help her writers plot and construct their new novels. But if you prefer to do that yourself, you may just want an agent interested in the business side of things.)
She then delved into what happens AFTER you get your agent, and how you can make both your lives easier during this arrangement.
Overall, if you’re looking for a hands-on agent who is fully invested in your career, I’d recommend Ms. Schwartz. She’s a sweet woman who was happy to help!
Are you querying your novel right now? How’s it going?? Let me know in the comments below!