I happen to have friends in the industry. I know, I'm totally lucky that way! *g* and today I decided to post some of his thoughts on queries. Here's some hard and fast rules to make it the best query you can and give yourself the best chance of getting seen by the 'right' eyes.
Surprise number one, many many agents employ interns. Not all, but a number of them. The intern is a faceless, nameless individual who reads through thousands of slush piles and decides which queries will get before an agent's eyes. They know precisely an agent's likes and dislikes and will forward IF and only IF the author meets certain criteria.
This is forwarded from the horse's mouth himself:
1. You wouldn't believe how often rules get broken. If we say only include the first 30 pages, pasted within the body of the email, it does not mean attach the full manuscript! We won't open them and you'll be rejected without even reading it.
2. Please don't tell us your bills are piling up and so you'll take any amount of money. A. We're your agent, we shop your book around. B. We don't pay you, you pay us! Don't give us a life story, remember this is a professional industry, keep it professional. Sad as it is to know you're in desperate need of funds, we're also not going to stop rejecting you if the project doesn't work for us. Period.
3. Do yourself a favor, include the sample writing! If you think to tease us with a query by saying go to this website or that website, nope. We simply don't have that kind of time. If the query is weak, we'll reject. We request the sample pages from the beginning because we understand not all writers can write a strong query. But if all you give us is the query, we'll judge you based on that alone. And here's the kicker, we find authors more often than not based off the strength of the writing and NOT the query. So you're only hurting yourself by not following the guideline's.
4. If you write a vampire novel PLEASE DON'T start the query by saying, "I Know... I Know... Another Stupid Vampire Novel." If you don't have enough faith in it, then why should we?
5. DO NOT REQUERY THE SAME BOOK OVER AND OVER WHEN WE'VE ALREADY REJECTED IT! Yes, we remember you and no, we don't read them again. So STOP. Chances are if you write another novel, we won't even look at it because we remember you and who you are! If we don't ask you to resubmit, DON'T.
6. Do, be professional. Query one agent at a time. That is not saying not to send out multiple queries, but don't do it in the same email. How would you like getting a group rejection?
7. The query letter is a simple thing. Give us length, genre, name, phone number, and a brief blurb and already you're ten paces ahead of the pack.
8. Secret number 8... list every single writing credential. Even if you don't think it matters, it matters. Do you have an MFA, say so. Brag about yourself, that is the time to do it!
9. Don't follow trends. Write what you love, if you do... we'll know and respond. Beautiful writing is beautiful writing, no matter what genre it is. Don't listen to naysayers saying such and such is dead, or such and such is hot, write what you love because that's what we want to read!
Well...I think he was pretty thorough there. And thank you so much *mysteryintern* for your pearls of wisdom! Hope you all enjoyed!