At the end of 2009 my agent, Jenny, unfortunately had to close her agency due to the economic situation in the US - the recession has hit the publishing industry pretty hard. I've no doubt Jenny's decision was difficult as it meant not only the ending of many professional relationships with her clients but the closure ot her dreams of being an agent with her own agency. I wish her well in her future ventures, whatever they may be.
So, 2010 sees me on the hunt for a new agent. I've already started. I've surfed the 'net, looking at websites, updating my Top 10 agent wish-list, researching submission procedures and writing new query letters.
It's time consuming, sometimes monotonous but always a challenge. Writing that query letter just so, to hook the interest of an agent, is no easy thing. I spent the better part of today fine tuning individual QL's, checking formatting and spelling etc. and then emailing it off to my first chosen few.
What do I put in my QL's?
An introductory paragraph - ms title, word count, genre/target market. Sometimes this is also the paragraph I remind an agent they previously requested a full manuscript in an earlier submission (it doesn't hurt to remind them you've had former contact with them, they might even remember you!).
2nd paragraph - a description of the manuscript (I tend to write mine like the back cover blurb of a book).
3rd paragraph - the credentials of the manuscript being pitched (its contest placings, any publications etc.).
4th paragraph - a statement to the effect that I'm enclosing in the body* of the email what the individual agent required as a submission (eg. 3 chapters & a synopsis).
5th paragraph - a statement saying that I'd be more than happy to send them the full ms if the query interests them and that I'm looking forward to hearing from them.
Sign off with full contact details - name, address, phone number (including international area code) and email address.
*Most agencies filter out emails with attachments and unless the agent has specifically requested your work as an attachment, put it in the body of your email, after your query letter. Chapters or sample work first then synopsis.
Most agencies on my Top 10 list accept email queries and submissions. Some don't, so check carefully when researching information about your chosen agent or agency.
I also jot down, usually on my calendar when I sent a query, partial, full to an agent and when I'll follow up on the query (some agencies state when to check back with them after a certain period time) as well as who sent back a rejection, a rejections with feedback and so on.
Once I've done the rounds of sending out queries, I then sit back and wait, and continue writing the next book. It makes the time pass faster.
So, here's to a successful 2010 - Year of Hunting for a New Agent.