Pressing That SEND Button: Sending Out A Query Letter For The First Time (Yikes!)

Wow. Whenever I imagined myself sending out my query letter for the first time, putting it in the hands of someone else, I never realized that the hardest part would be hitting the send button. Yesterday, I sent my query to an agent. I’m almost finished editing (just fixing typos, and extracting need-to-know information from book one in order to move onto book two), so I figured it was time to get the ball rolling. In the moment, it was certainly a rush. Luckily, today my nerves have settled enough for me to write about it.

I did a lot of reseach before contacting an agent. Which agency (or agent within an agency) would be interested in reading my novel? What have they sold before that is similiar to my work? What are they looking for in future clients? And of course, how should I present my book to them. I had to find out if they accepted email queries (which to me is ideal…who doesn’t want to save paper?), and if they wanted just a query or also a snippet from the book. My book was a challenge with that last one. Some agents request the first chapter of your book along with the query, or the first five pages. But the first chapter of my novel (the prologue) is very different from the rest of the content. It’s set in the 17th century, whereas the bulk of the novel is in present day. But the prologue is so important to understand the story. For my content, I sent the first five pages of both my prologue and first chapter to give the agent a sense of the two different writing styles. Hopefully that doesn’t deviate too far from their instructions that they’ll decide to pass on me.

 If you’re looking for an agent, but don’t know where to begin searching for one, grab an up-to-date copy of Guide to Literary Agents, or Writer’s Market . If you’ve never heard of these books, pay attention. They contain listings of all the agents and publishers in the market (as well as magazines, writing conference information, etc). Their listings include very important information: what genres they’re looking for, whether they’re accepting new authors or unsolicited manuscripts, their website and contact information, books they’ve recently sold, their commission, and so on. Last year, I went through and highlighted all the agents who accepted YA novels. Then I sorted through those to find out which agents would be the best fit for my book. You can find most, if not all, of this information online. But it’s much easier to use the books. They’re concise, organized and easy to bookmark. I strongly recommend reading them.

Once I’ve secured representation, I will post which agents I sent to, which I recieved rejections from and which one took a chance on me. I’ll even post the responses from the agencies, as well with the query letter that worked, just to give you an idea of what you’re looking at.

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