While I wait for my first beta reader to finish my manuscript, I’ve been trying to be productive. It’s funny – without the pressure of “finishing” the novel, I feel so much more enthusiasm to dive back into it. The hardest part is done! Or, at least, that is what I am telling myself now. Maybe I’ll be singing a different tune in a few months underneath a pile of rejection letters, hehe. But I can say with certainty that, at least for now, I feel full of hope.
So despite the fact that my novel is currently out of my hands, I want these next few weeks to be productive. From what I can tell (and from what I have managed to confirm with my writer friends), my next step is to give my query letter some TLC and start searching for possible agents. There are a few resources I have been using to help me along with these goals. For other aspiring writers who also have no idea what they are doing, I thought it might be helpful to see what at least another clueless person is up to 🙂
Writing a Query Letter
Without a doubt, Query Shark has been the most helpful resource I’ve found when it comes to writing a query letter. The blog is run by Janet Reid, an agent from New Leaf Literary. Writers submit their query letters to her for review, and she promptly eviscerates them with extremely detailed notes of what the writer did wrong and where they can do better. I learn best by example, and seeing other writers make the same mistakes I do has been so valuable. I am working my way through her archive now and cannot wait to see what my final query letter will look like after I take all of her advice into consideration. If you’re curious, you can see the current state of my query letter here, but be warned that it is my first attempt.
Another resource that I really enjoyed was the “How to Pitch and Query Like a Pro” video from Writers Digest. The video is a little over an hour long and costs $16.99 to watch, but it’s chalk full of valuable information and examples. Pitching is something that I never stopped to consider, but the good news is that a well-crafted pitch can be dropped directly into a query. Marie and Carie Lamba, both agents at Jennifer De Chiara Literary agency, break the process down in a really clear way. It’s worth a watch if you are unsure where to start.
Finding Possible Agents
I’ve started researching agents on Twitter and adding them to my Query Tracker account. At first I was keeping a running list in a Google sheet, but I love how easy Query Tracker is to use. The application lets you create lists of agents, with a whole trove of important information like:
- What genres is the agent looking for?
- How do they accept queries (electronically or via mail)?
- Are they currently open to queries?
You can record when you submitted queries, check how old a query is, set reminders for yourself, and a whole other slew of functionality I have not taken the time to delve into yet.
So yes! That is where I am at. I’ve been browsing articles on Writers Digest as well, and I did make an account for WritersMarket.com, but I haven’t done a lot of digging into the best way to use it yet. Once I do, you’ll be the first to know.