Thursday, February 03, 2011
Re: Queries—Please Try Harder
I've been wading through well over one hundred eQueries™ this week and I have to say, I wish most authors would try harder.
The art of the query letter is neither new nor even that complicated. My website has an extensive discussion of What We Want at http://www.zackcompany.com/submissions/178.html. Please read it. If you don't see something close to your book described there, you should likely query other agents.
My site also has an entire article on writing a great query letter at http://www.zackcompany.com/images/stories/theperfectpitch.pdf. Yet, over and over, I get these weak, poorly written queries that, quite frankly, are a waste of time for the author to have written and a waste of my time to read.
No agency is a barn door, whether it takes queries by mail or email or via a form on a website. So, please, don't treat us like one and keep lobbing poorly written queries and hoping they will stick.
It takes me a couple of hours, at least, to write a submission letter for a book I'm sending to editors. I've been doing this for twenty or so years, so I figure for a new author to write a good query letter should take several hours of carefully thinking about what makes your book different, writing a solid one-sentence "grabber" that shows the book is "high concept," and drafting a summary that's like good flap copy.
Then, when you have that, you visit my site or other agents' sites and see if your book is something we might want and then carefully fill out the submission form.
Seems like common sense, right? Unfortunately, given the number of poor queries I get, it must be beyond "common."
So, I implore you, take more time. Fill out the form with some attention to detail. And good luck!
Posted by Andrew Zack at 4:53 PM