A year ago, way back in January 2018, I had a goal: to finish the toughest revision I’d ever made to my book, and then — finally — to start querying. Yes, 2018 was the year I would send my work out to literary agents, at long last! SO EXCITING!
It ended up taking until early summer before I felt ready to hit that send button. Polishing my manuscript was one thing, but I also wanted to learn as much as I could about publishing, and how to choose the right agents, and the querying process.
I’m glad that I took as long as I did, because by the time I started querying I felt extremely confident about my query, and I knew what I was looking for in a literary agent. Researching as much as I did definitely helped me to query successfully.
If you’re querying right now or getting ready to do it (SO!! EXCITING!!) then 2019 could totally be your year! Do your research, read up on good practices, revise your material thoroughly, and then go go go!
Below are some links that seriously helped me out last year, and that I still constantly recommend to querying folks, no matter where you are in your journey!
@RaeLoverde :: Craft threads on Twitter
If you aren’t already following Rae on Twitter, go do it. Do it now! I can’t underline just how much Rae’s excellent threads helped me figure out What The Heck A Query Letter Is. And it wasn’t only my query that improved — Rae has a lot of amazing, clear craft advice that’s useful in all areas of your writing. (As a bonus, Rae’s feed also includes many excellent gifs and Avatar: The Last Airbender references :D)
You can find a roundup of Rae’s craft threads on Bleeding Ink, Inc. Definitely check out Writing An Effective, Enticing Query: Method 1 and Method 2 as a starting point. I guarantee you’ll find something in here helpful, whether you’re drafting your first query letter or making tweaks to your current one!
Querying a Complicated Book :: Blog post by Victoria Lee
This blog post SAVED MY QUERYING LIFE, there’s no doubt about it. I want to share this with every other unfortunate soul who’s written a book that is Too Damn Complicated, and who feels like it’s impossible to sum up what their book is “about” in 350 words.
My book has multiple POVs, two different timelines, a non-linear story, and sooo many plot threads that I struggled to even begin with writing a query. After reading Victoria’s post, I realized that I didn’t need to mention all of the MCs, or even explain all of the major plotlines! I just needed to choose the right things to mention, and most importantly, I had to make sure every sentence had a specific purpose.
The line-by-line deconstruction of Victoria’s query at the end of the post is a revelation. I think this remains one of the most interesting queries I’ve ever seen, and I can’t wait to read THE FEVER KING when it comes out this February!
Shipping & Handling :: Podcast
Shipping & Handling is a monthly podcast co-hosted by two literary agents, Bridget Smith and Jennifer Udden. I first found this podcast a year ago as I was searching for more resources to learn about the publishing industry — especially from sources that felt genuine and personal. Little did I know that Bridget would one day become the agent who represented my book!
Bridget and Jennifer discuss loads of book-related topics every month, sharing their wealth of knowledge in a super-fun way. They talk about reading, writing, fandom, the publishing industry, querying, the road to finding an agent, and lots of other random stuff. Best of all, it’s obvious that they’re having a great time with every episode.
Listening to podcasts like this one always helps remind me that no matter how Very Serious this can all seem at times, the main reason for being involved in making books is because you enjoy it. And that’s the reason a good agent is in this business, too!
Good luck, querying friends. You’ve got this!