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Topic: How to write a letter to an agent?

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Subject: How to write a letter to an agent?
Date Posted: 5/29/2009 11:32 AM ET
Member Since: 10/12/2008
Posts: 349
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Guys, you have helped me a lot and I was wondering if you can help me with this also. I read that a agents read the submition letter with care but haven't been able to find an example. I thought it might be helpful for others in the future to make this question into a topic. I don't want to offend or lower my chance of finding an agent with my ignorance. THANKS!!! Lenka
Date Posted: 5/29/2009 11:50 AM ET
Member Since: 1/8/2007
Posts: 145
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Yes, you're right, the query letter is really important . . . first, you want to target the right agents for your book. Then, you need to put your submission package together (some want the first 50 pages, some want a synopsis. You've got to do your homework. The internet helps with this.) One of the best blogs about querying/submitting, etc. is Kristen Nelson's ( http://pubrants.blogspot.com ). She gives examples (on her blog and her website, which you can link to from her blog) of query letters. You can also google "QUERY LETTERS" and find other suggestions. Writer's Digest has a book about agents and submitting, too. There's not one perfect formula, so researching which agents you want to send to and then seeing exactly what they want is the best place to start. GOOD LUCK!!
Date Posted: 5/29/2009 11:54 AM ET
Member Since: 6/25/2007
Posts: 5,637
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I sent this to you in PM, but I'll also post it here:

A really good blog for query letters is Evil Editor: http://evileditor.blogspot.com/

He is a real editor, and people submit query letters to him and he reviews them and offers suggestions and advice on the submitted query letters. It's a very valuable site and I have picked up many tips from it. It's a good source for find out out what to include and what not to include and also to see how others set up their letters. Looking at examples of what works and does not work is a lot easier, for me at least, to follow than to read a long list of tips and rules.

I forgot about Miss Snark. The blog is over, but the archives are still up. She is a literary agent and gives great advice. She is, of course, snarky, but she's full of great info. http://www.misssnark.blogspot.com/

Last Edited on: 5/29/09 11:56 AM ET - Total times edited: 1

Date Posted: 5/29/2009 12:00 PM ET
Member Since: 10/13/2007
Posts: 36,445
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Nathan Bransford http://nathanbransford.blogspot.com/ is also an agent with a blog who gives examples as well as answers questions etc.  Kristens blog is one I read also.

Best thing is to KNOW your agent, know who they represent, know what they sell. If they have a blog READ IT. Same with a website read it all, you can gain alot by the tone of the website as well as any details they have.

Seriously if the agent says to use blue paper then do it. Follow all the guidelines exactly.

One thing I have seen Nathan comment on is, if you DO read their blogs, comment on something the like, in Nathans case its Kindles and The Hills. Or if they have published an author you like you could make a reference to that.

So make a LONG list of authors you wish to send out too, research them find what they want (do they want a query letter or do they just want the first chapter.)

If you can afford it, subscribe to the Writer's Market website they have loads of agents listed (with guidelines for them and weblinks) as well as sample query letters etc.

 

Yes Miss Snark is the snarky best agent. I once emailed her and well her answer was not the kindest..LOL  Think Devil wears prada boss :) BUT she did give me some great advice. Get the BEST agent you can no matter where they are or what they look like..LOL (I had asked her if I should go with a local agent or one from NY. )

 



Last Edited on: 5/29/09 12:03 PM ET - Total times edited: 1
Date Posted: 5/29/2009 3:09 PM ET
Member Since: 12/7/2005
Posts: 758
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Lenka,

I have no personal experience with query letters. I did peek into Poynter's "The Self-Publishing Manual" chapter on agents. He basically said and gave statistics on what an uphill battle it is to find and work with an agent. Most will charge you to read your book and most won't work with first time authors. But then again he's speaking from a self publishing bias.

Here are some websites he suggested:  See the directory of agents on http://www.writers.net and The Association of Authors Representatives, Inc. on http://www.publishersweekly.com website.

That's all for now. Good luck.

---Ellen

Date Posted: 5/29/2009 3:18 PM ET
Member Since: 10/13/2007
Posts: 36,445
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Good point Ellen and one we need to remember you should NOT ever work with an agent that charges you to read your MS.
Yes it can be hard to get an agent but alot of publishers will not accept MS sent from an author.

Date Posted: 5/29/2009 4:28 PM ET
Member Since: 10/12/2008
Posts: 349
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Thanks! I don't know what I would have done without your help! If I get in, you all get a free, signed copy ;0) Lenka
Date Posted: 5/29/2009 4:32 PM ET
Member Since: 1/8/2007
Posts: 145
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Let me second what xengab said--NEVER EVER EVER pay an agent up front. No reputable agent will charge you to read anything. Ever. And agents will absolutely work with first-time authors--you just have to be sure your MS is as perfect as can be. It's hard but it can be done. GOOD LUCK!