At the San Francisco Writer’s Conference this weekend, I attended a session called “Meet the Fiction Agents”. It had a panel that included Kimberley Cameron, Liz Kracht, Jill Marsal, Taylor Martindale, Laurie McLean, Michael Neff, Rayhane Sanders, Ken Sherman, Nephele Tempest, Becky Vinter, and Gordon Warnock.
These Agent gave information on what they were looking for and the types of clients they represent. In addition, there was a short talk regarding the “do’s and dont’s” of pitching to an editor. Since it all starts with either a pitch or the query letter, I’ll share their advice on submitting queries:
1. Do your research and know the Agency. Don’t waste time sending a query that doesn’t represent your type of work. Check authors who write similar work and see who represents them if you’re uncertain.
2. Address the individual, generic queries go to the bottom of the slush pile and may never surface again.
3. Be straight-forward. Don’t start the query with a question, it’s annoying. No gimmicks, it is equally annoying.
4. Don’t query the book if it isn’t finished. If they ask for the manuscript, they’d like to get it asap, not months later.
5. Do include pertinent information. Tell what you have already published, if anything and with whom it was published. Tell about writing experience specific to your work.
6. Pitch only ONE book at a time. If you have others, pitch them separately and later.
7. Tell more about the book than yourself. They DO want to know you, but the BOOK is the HOOK. Liz used the term HOOK, BOOK, COOK. This means write your hook first and make it short and catchy, then give the details of the book, then cook that with information about you that sells it. (Please forgive me, Liz, if I didn’t repeat this accurately).
8. Make your query short and concise. A good rule of thumb would be–if it can be displayed in the length of one screen without scrolling down, it’s perfect. Queries are usually read on the computer so make it easy for them.
9. Yes, they do look at ebook experience. Even self-pubbed authors IF they’ve had success. Success can be different in many cases, but one agent mentioned that an author needs to sell at least 50,000 copies to be considered representable.
I hope this information is helpful. To learn more about these agents and their areas, go to the San Francisco Writer’s Conference website. I have provided a link to the speaker’s section where it gives their agency information: http://sfwriters.org/2013-writers-conference-speakers/
Have a great day!