Helpful query tips!

I talk a lot about the good stuff to do when you’re writing a query — how to focus on the characters you want me to care about, how to tell just enough of the plot to compel me to read more, how much to say about yourself, etc. — but because I’m me, I don’t do a lot of focusing on the negative. Well, in honor of reopening to queries this week, and an already towering pile of unread emails, here’s some things to keep in mind if you want a response:

Don’t let me think I’m special — send your query to every agent in the book, and make sure I know it by putting all our of email addresses in the “To” field.

Don’t worry about someone else’s preferences — who cares if I say I’m only looking for MG or YA fiction. Send me that sex manual!

Don’t be afraid to be bold — go on and tell me that most agents suck, but maybe I don’t suck as bad as most pompous NYC gatekeepers.

Don’t worry about grammar or punctuation — your words were whispered in your ears by the Muse herself, who gives a rat’s ass about commas and proper usage?!

Don’t worry about ripping off someone else’s plot — there’s NO WAY I will care that you’re basically retelling Harry Potter or Twilight, and even if I do, there’s good money to be made on fan fiction, right?

Don’t keep your scorn to yourself — most books published are horrible, of course, and that’s why you had to write your own, instead of asking a librarian or bookseller for advice on finding better books.

And finally, don’t take this advice too seriously, please. Keep on doing what the bulk of you are doing — sending smart, engaging queries that have me eager to read more.

Photo by Flickr user Gord McKenna, used under a CC license.

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