So you’ve finally finished that manuscript and ready to start querying. For writers, the querying process is like a personal Everest. How does a writer conquer the proverbial slush pile, the numerous literary agencies and agents to choose from and get their manuscript to stand out?
There is no easy way up that mountain, but what you can do is prepare for the tough climb ahead. We’ve compiled a list of resources every querying writer should check out. Read on to find out what you need to know to get your submission in the best shape possible.
How to sift through all the agents and literary agencies out there? Manuscript Wish List is a comprehensive searchable database of literary agents and editors who advertise the types of manuscripts they’re looking for.
You can find out more about agents or editors by doing a search using a number of criteria, such as genre, agent / editor name, or keywords. Each agent and editor has a full profile with details about the kinds of manuscripts they represent, what they like and don’t like.
Before sending off that query letter, make sure you have all the information to keep you safe. Since 1998, Writer Beware tracks, exposes and raises awareness on schemes, scams and questionable practices in the publishing industry so that writers can protect themselves.
They maintain a database of questionable literary agents, publishers, independent editors, writers’ services, contests, publicity services and more. They also offer a free research service for writers with questions about agents, publishers and more.
Similar to Writer Beware, Preditors and Editors provides advice and warnings on editors and agencies, giving information on scams, controversies or legitimacy of an agency or individual.
The website is currently down as they transition to take on new staff and volunteers. In the meantime, they’re mostly active onFacebook, and working toward publishing a guide on navigating the writing world.
Unsure about a literary agency or agent? Absolute Write is a community that hosts forums for writers to discuss all sorts of topics. But the most useful forums are the threads about specific agents / agencies. You can find out what other writers are saying or have experienced with a certain agency by doing a simple search.
With 20 years in the publishing business, Jane Friedman’s award-winning blog is a great resource for writers in different stages of their careers. Not sure how to start writing the dreaded query letter? Friedman has provided a step-by-step guide on the elements of a query letter, including the red flags to watch out for and a submissions strategy.
To find out what works or doesn’t work in a query letter, who better to hear it from than a literary agent? Query Shark is run by a literary agent that critiques actual query letters readers have sent. It has posts dating back to 2004, so there’s no shortage of examples to learn from.
QueryConnection is a community for writers to connect with other writers and share their submission and publication materials for critique. From time to time, they host editor critiques and members get a chance to ask questions to mentors and genre moderators who are established writers themselves.
Query Tracker helps writers keep track of their queries. You can easily see and record how many queries you’ve sent and to whom, who has responded, rejected or accepted your query. But the most useful feature is probably the aggregated data Query Tracker has collected on each agent, based on the members’ experience on the site.
For example, you’d be able to see how many queries an agent has received, how quickly they respond, if they’ve accepted or rejected a query, what kind of manuscripts they’ve accepted or rejected and how they’ve rejected a query (a form rejection or a more personalized rejection).
Publishers Marketplace is largely driven by the Publisher’s Lunch newsletter, a daily dossier for publishing professionals. Publisher’s Marketplace publishes deals, dealmakers and sales insights. It also has a directory of agency information not found anywhere else.
Though not technically a query letter, synopses are sometimes a part of the querying process. Writer Charlotte Dillon has gathered a few synopses from willing authors who successfully landed a deal with their synopses.
Yours truly, So You Want to Write has written a comprehensive guide for all stages of the querying process, from the research phase through to what to do after you land an agent, and of course, how to write a query letter.