4 Quick Querying Tips

So you’ve finished your manuscript.

Though it is a time for celebration you’re still miles away from the finish line. Here are a few tips for nailing the query, which will ultimately determine the future of your manuscript. . . No pressure.

  • Your manuscript must be done, polished, and completely perfect. Then, and only then, should you tackle the query letter. This is arguably the most important rule of querying. Why? Because if your manuscript is lacking, it won’t matter how amazing your query letter is. Agents won’t bite.

  • Each word of your query must be vital and specific. In other words, and I’ll quote Stephen King here, “Cut needless words.” I’ll show you what I mean. Take a look at these two examples and tell me which sounds better to you.

    • Joe Sharp is a really troubled guy. He shows up to a job interview only to find trouble.

    • Joe Sharp, a fifty-nine year old carpenter, finds himself out of work with no retirement. After being turned down by ten companies, his last-chance interview, it turns out, is with his ex-wife.

See the difference there? Don’t tell the agent that your character is really troubled; tell the agent why. Notice how both examples are only two sentences, yet one contains more vital details? Be specific. Cut useless words.

  • Query the right agents. If your manuscript is an adult sci-fi, don’t waste your time, or the poor agent’s, by querying someone who only represents young adult romance. Just don’t.

  • Get connected. Twitter is a querying writer’s best friend. The writing community on Twitter is like no other. Follow other writers. Follow agents. Don’t underestimate this tip. Agents post advice for writers, participate in pitch events, and often do live Q&A sessions. Other writers are not your competition. They are full of knowledge! Befriend them. All that said, Twitter hosts tons of writing events and contests that have been known to kick-start careers.

Written by Cortney Winn