Sunday, August 17, 2008

A note on sending me queries

(Yes, I'm writing this at 1:00 AM. I've had a lot of coffee today.)

I'm getting an awful lot of queries from folks who start off by saying something along the lines of "I'm an avid reader of your blog..." These query writers then go on to demonstrate that they haven't actually read the most important part of my blog: my submission guidelines. And in every other place online where you may find my name listed as literary agent, you'll also find those very same submission guidelines posted, submission guidelines that ask for the first five or six pages of your manuscript cut and pasted into the body of your email query.

I ask for the first few pages of your manuscript for a really good reason: I want to see a sample of your writing. When you send me a query that doesn't include a sample of your writing, you're wasting my time and doing yourself a great disservice.

It doesn't matter which agent you decide to query; you should always take the time to research that agent's submission guidelines first.

We all have a limited amount of time that we can spend on each query letter; make that time count for something when we're reading yours, okay?

8 comments:

S. E. Ward said...

I've got a semi-related question I've been meaning to ask you for a while: what do we (ie, your clients) do if we have someone we want to send your way? I've got a couple of friends I want to point in your direction when they're ready. Do you want a heads-up ahead of time? Should they just say, "XX sent me," in the query? Would you prefer that clients not send friends to you in order to avoid potential drama? Inquiring minds want to know!

mo said...

I made the mistake of sending my query when you were having e-mail problems, and I have a suspicion that cyberspace swallowed it up.

This is a good thing since your post on Kelly Gay's query allowed me to see where I could make improvements.

I know how hard you work, and I don't want to overburden you with double submissions. However, if my query really is lost, would it be alright to do a resend?

Thank you for your time.

Vieva said...

You just made me check my outbox to make sure I'm not one of the evil non-readers.

phew. I did do it right.

You scared me!

clindsay said...

Susan -

Feel free to send people my way if and when they have a finished manuscript that you've read and you think is publishable.

Cheers!

Colleen

VELMA SABINA!!! said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
S. E. Ward said...

Sounds good. Thanks!

Brown Trash Punk said...

hi Colleen-- i have a question about manuscript formatting. I've heard/read different opinions regarding italics used in manuscripts. Do you prefer words to be underlined or in italics? I really want to make sure that my manuscript is perfect, but I keep hearing different suggestions about italics/underlining, that I feel lost. I'd appreciate your answer. Thank you!

clindsay said...

Brown Trash Punk -

I don't mind italics if kept to a minimum. Most agents are not going to want heavy formatting. If a point of dialogue needs italics, you can underline it; that's generally the accepted way.

I do get a lot of queries that are filled with different colors, bold, italics. It's maddening. And since I load all of these onto an electronic reader, much of the formatting is stripped away anyway.