, congrats for being at the query stage, so get it out there. I wish you all the best.
I agree with Carol and Katie-E above. They are two very wise people.
I’d like to add few thoughts.
Watch some pop-ups and imagine you were the agent. While a sub is being read out, ask yourself: would I take on that sub? If not, why? What's wrong with it. Analyse it. You might find it useful and gain some useful tips. Then listen to Pete's analysis of that same sub. You WILL find it useful. He is a guru as far as I'm concerned. If he likes it and calls it in, then listen to the why.
So 'play agent' and you might get a feel for what they are looking for and how to write a good query. What kind of letter ect would you want to read if you were the agent?
style, content and format of the query letter,
Always check their websites for specifics. They may have guidlines. Professional is always good.
This is what I'll be doing with my next one: I'll send the queries out in batches of maybe five then wait a couple of weeks. Someone might be kind enough to give constructive feedback as to why they said no. If no one bites, I'll look at my sub. Is there anything I want to change? After a two week break from it, I might see a weakness in my letter. I then re-consider, tweak if necessary, then send out the next lot.
And I will now keep it simple. I'll pick one strong selling point of my novel then run with that; the core of what makes it sell-able, read-able. The core question / conflict of the story. Too much info in your letter might muddy the sub.
I guess there is no magic formula. All we can do is write the best novel we can write, then write the best sub we can, then send it out. Be you. If the moment is right for our work, great. If the 'no's and no responses flood in, stop, and take stock. Is it you? Is it them? Is the novel not ready? Was the market not ready? Did you query the wrong agent? Etc.
I'm coming to the conclusion that Agent Pete's mantra of 'More meaning from less words'
also applies to the submission process. I wonder if that's that the case, @AgentPete
? I suspect overselling rarely works. A travel writer told me to query like this: Short, sharp, then shut up.
The three 'S'.
They’re literally looking for an excuse to say no to your pitch in order to get through their inboxes which will fill again tomorrow with yet more mediocre queries.
Appologies in advance but I'm about to tread on a toe or two: I find this statement untrue, and toxic. It gives agents a bad image. Agents aren't sharks who sit behind desks waiting for the subs to flow in so they have something slaughter. Agents want to find the next bestseller. They don't look for an excuse to say no. They simply know what they're looking for. They are innundated with subs to the point they can be fussy. They deal with subs everyday and have experience to see red flags (by red flags I mean anything from bad writing, to stories that won't sell, to stories that don't fit in with what they represent, to stories that have been done, to stories that ... etc). They know their stuff. In other words, they have the ability to assess a sub in seconds.
Unfortunatly with so many people writing these days, there will be more 'no's than 'yes's. It's just numbers. Mediocre subs aren't the agent's fault. Imagine having hundres of emails then having to sift through them to find the gem that will pay your mortgage ...
Agents want us to do well because if we do, they do. They benefit from us, we benefit from them. Let's see them as friends, not enemies.