Right now I am in the querying process. Querying means sending letters to literary agents, hoping to find one who will represent your work. You’re trying to hook their interest with a letter so they will ask for more and eventually want to represent you to sell your book to a publisher.

There are many rules to follow. Some seem pretty straight-forward, but I guess people have a hard time following those rules. Here are a few.

  1. Don’t send out mass queries addressed to Dear Agent (address it to them)
  2. Don’t query an agent in the wrong genre (young adult, sci fi, romance, what is it?)
  3.  Don’t talk about how you’re the next Stephen King
  4. Follow the agent’s submission guidelines

The majority of agents have websites. But for those who don’t, you can find their name/address and what they represent on searchable databases. The agents who have their own websites, always have submission guidelines.

And they are all different.

Some just want your query letter. Some want a synopsis. Some want 10 pages of the manuscript. Or 50 pages. Or 1 chapter. Or 3 chapters. Some want author’s bios. I don’t have one because I’ve never published anything.

Some want it more personalized. They like when you mention a book they represented that you admire. But more seem to not want that. They want you to get to the point—what’s your story.

Some agents say they’ll reply within a certain date. Some won’t reply at all—that is their reply. Some reply in two weeks (if you’re lucky). But more likely it’s 6-8 weeks. Some are three months.

 Some only accept snail mail submissions. Most have switched to e-mail only.

 (Apologies for my overuse of some.)

And that’s how querying works. If you’re lucky, they’ll ask to see your manuscript, but the chance of that happening is small.

 Coming next… What are my chances? (of getting published)