Before You Hit Send & A Little Query Etiquette for 2014

Here are a few things I didn’t know a little over a year ago when I began querying. Some things I learned from other writers and some things I learned the kinda hard way. Cheers to you not making silly mistakes and to getting an agent in 2014.

Before you hit “send.”

Agent: Is agent’s name spelled correctly? Are you suuuure?

Address: Is agent’s email address in To: line correct? Does it correspond to the agent’s name in your heading?

Personalization: If applicable: have you deleted the last queried agent’s personalized greeting/reason you’re querying them specifically? If you’re adding personalized info, is it spell and grammar checked?

If you screw it up: It happens, let it go. But really, try not to be query-send crazy. Don’t hit send until you’ve double or triple checked.

Pages: This is another big one where you don’t want to mess up. Always double check the agent sub guidelines on their page of the agency website. Do they want query only? First chapter? First three chapters? First fifty pages? A nice thing to have at the end of your query as a reminder is something like “Per your agency guidelines, I’ve pasted the first five pages of my manuscript along with a one page synopsis.” And this should go without saying, but while checking that you’ve followed the guidelines and YES added your pages to the query, be sure the agent is looking for mss in your category/genre, otherwise you’re wasting everyone’s time. 

Bonus: Mnemonic device to remember above is “AARP.” Agents Acquire Pretty Pages. Agent, Address, Personalization, Pages.

When you get a query rejection:

DO NOT email the agent back. Aint nobody got time for that. That’s all.

When you get a full or partial rejection:

IMO, it’s okay to send a short thank you if the agent has given you specific feedback on your pages or story, or requested you send them future work. For me, it only felt right and professional to thank them for their time. HOWEVER, refrain from using your email to ask questions. (What can I do to make you love me? Are you sure you didn’t connect with the voice? Should I revise? Well, what if I change the ending?)

Question: What happens when you ask a specific question or ask for more insight on the downfalls of your novel after being rejected?

Answer: Usually nothing. The agent has already taken the time to read some or a great deal of your manuscript. They’ve taken the time to reply with or without personal feedback. Don’t ask for more. Said agent is busy with clients and future clients. Take notes if you got some, then move on. Because hey, your future agent awaits.

Bonus: This evening, nurse your rejection stomachache with a piece of cake and scoop of ice cream while you do research on more dreamy agents. If the rejection today was a form email, add a cup of hot chocolate spiked with Baileys. If you don’t drink, add homemade whipped creme.

When you get a partial or full request:

Upon request, send your partial or full in a timely manner. Your materials should be ready to go. One page shiny synopsis-check! Full, polished ms in a word doc-check! Send the requested materials according to agent’s specifications. If you’re unsure about sending pages pasted onto email or attached, re-read the email and check out their website submission guidelines, if needed. If you’re still unsure and wish to avoid wasting back and forth emailing time, I think it’s an OK bet to paste anything less than fifty pages or five chapters onto the email and attach all full manuscripts as word documents. If it’s not correct, the agent will request another format.

Bonus: You got a request! Hooray! DO: a little dance, buy an e-book in your genre, tell your friends via text, phone, person, or DM (not by social media). DONT: Send the request, then read your ms again and ask agent two days later if you can re-send the updated without three typos version.

If you receive an offer: 

ALWAYS email every agent who has your manuscript partial or full to let them know you’ve received an offer.  No agent wants to take the time to read your manuscript, love it or hate it, when it’s already spoken for. Would you take a day off work to help a cute guy move if he’s got a boyfriend? Do you want to peruse a menu full of 86’d items? Imagine reading a CP’s book and then sending your notes back but they say, “Oh sorry–I actually shelved that!”

Use the subject line: OFFER OF REP RECEIVED or OFFER RECEIVED ON YOUR TITLE HERE. You can also send “I’ve got an offer” emails to recently queried agents as well. It gets your query out of their queue, saves them time, and also gives them the chance to request a look at your manuscript too.

Bonus: An offer calls for a celebration (out to dinner with family or buy a new t-shirt that says GOAL ACHIEVER) and then another bigger celebration once (if) you accept an offer. (out to dinner without kids or with friends who’ll buy you all the drinks).

Final Query Etiquette Tip: In the eye of rejection, remain professional and always be kind to yourself–because dude, you wrote a whole book!

What To Expect When You’re Expecting To Get An Agent

(Spoiler: Don’t Expect The Same Results As Anyone Else.)

Hey Guys! If you know me in real life or in the writing community, you probably heard my big news. I HAVE AN AGENT! At the beginning of this month, I signed with Victoria Lowes of The Bent Agency.

In case you didn’t know, a literary agent is only the beginning, because now it’s time to get the book ready for submission to editors/publishing houses, HOWEVER it’s kind of a big milestone in the writing community. Heres what it means to me: It means that someone else loves and believes in my book and thinks she can sell it. And she can deal with the connections, contracts, negotiating, rights, etc–all the stuff I don’t have the expertise and time for–which leaves me with time to focus on writing.

I’m incredibly grateful for all the writerly support I’ve received along the way. Because, once I finished my novel, I really didn’t have a clue to the next steps, or all the fancy rules, secret handshakes and different paths to be taken. I started reading a lot and realized there were so many agencies and agents to be researched and also a lot of other opportunities to enter your book’s pitch or first pages into contests for exposure. SO MUCH KNOWLEDGE OUT THERE. And so many writers that offer support and giving back in the same journey. If you write and you’re not on twitter, you’re missing out. There’s a great community of writers and publishing industry professionals there that are full of support, links, advice, and opportunity. Who knew twitter wasn’t just for finding out Mad Men spoilers or what Kanye ate for lunch?

So, back to me and my agent story! Michelle Hauck’s blog, “Michelle For Laughs” has a great agent interview section, “Query Questions,” which is where I first saw the interview with literary agent Victoria Lowes. The lovely Michelle asked me to write up a post on my very own Getting an Agent experience. So please, go check it out: Getting The Call: Ami Allen-Vath. 

The title of this post is What To Expect When You’re Expecting To Get An Agent. I like a good plot twist, so, since everyone’s journey is different, here’s what NOT to expect:

Don’t expect the same results as someone or everyone else. One person’s manuscript may get an offer before they even query it. Another writer may shelve five books before an agent offers representation on book six.

Don’t expect an agent to give you feedback just because they requested your manuscript. Agents are busy. Or they may not have read enough to offer anything valuable. Feedback is something to aspire for, it’s not owed to you. But yes, we can all agree that a form rejection on a full suuuuucks hurts the ego a bit.

Don’t expect that the feedback you do get is going to be some magic cure-all that’ll make you change that one thing to get you even more requests and an agent on the next round of queries. I kept waiting for feedback that would fuel me into a magical revision of my ms or query. Yes, I got feedback that helped but never was there this one big rejection with ALL THE NOTES and ALL THE ANSWERS. If an agent has feedback that’ll be magical and “offer inspiring,” it’s probably going to be an R&R or an ACTUAL offer.

Don’t expect that every query you send out will get a response. I had 26 queries that didn’t get a response.

Don’t expect that this book is THE book. But don’t expect that it’s not. As soon as I started believing in my next manuscript and preparing a mental list of contests and agents for book two, I got offers for book one.

ONE DO:

DO EXPECT great things from YOU. Make goals, rake in the knowledge, push hard, and move forward and up with every NO.

ONE MORE DON”T:

Don’t give up.