The Directionless Query
Now that we’ve reached the seas of ill-conceived querying, it becomes evident that one of the reasons for this challenge is the lack of direction. This is the point by which an author with the overall goal of getting published finds him/herself blinded by pure ambition.
Some signs include:
No knowledge of who the agent is or what the agency is looking for. It’s understandable to forget someone’s name or to misspell a name upon meeting in person (we’re all human, no offense should be taken). Showing a general lack of direction is even more of a challenge and not the best way to start a query.
“I may be one of five million people that come up with “off the wall” ideas of stories and I’m not sure I have the knowledge or time to write them, but I have ideas and I am scared to talk to anyone about them. I feel a little stupid thinking of being so creative when I’m not qualified to do a single thing about it. I never feed these ideas because I don’t know what to do with them. I want to write about them, but don’t because no one knows, not even my husband. The ideas go away with time, but I’m not sure why I get them in the first place.
I don’t know you. You don’t know me. You probably think I’m insane for asking a total stranger for help. I googled a bunch of words like; writing, comedy & history. I found you after a while of not seeing a connection to others. So I decided to message you because you may be able to help me. ???
If I can just tell you my latest idea, could you give me your honest opinion?”
I can only speak for myself, vs. all agents, but asking an agent to just brainstorm for an idea that’s not even complete isn’t a the best use on one’s time. Additionally stating that one isn’t sure there’s time to write the idea will leave a lackluster impression.
Yet when the query letter is intentionally directed to a specific agent, it’s important to be prepared. Please remember that our agencies are generally listed in print and online directories, along with our respective websites listing submission guidelines. We’ve all made an effort to make it seamless for any author to query us.
[Sent via email to firstname.lastname@example.org]
Dear, To Whom it may Concern
I am in search of a publishing agent, I hope you are the one. I have written my first novel, “TITLE REMOVED” and I would like to get it published.
-First, I assume if you’re sending a query that the goal is to get published and that the hope is to find an agent. There’s no need to preface this in a query. The email was sent directly to my inbox (see the email address noted beforehand), of which the name is a bit off. And this query is outside my categories.
I read online that you are looking for new writers. Well, look no further! I’m a horror/suspense/ paranormal romance author seeking literary representation.
If you visit my website at [WEBSITE REMOVED] – there is quite a bit of information about me.
Please take a look at your convenience and let me know if you are interested. I’ll send you any e-book or print book you’d like to peruse.
-Written to all of us at the agency, and stating the obvious (that we are open to queries). Additionally, the author attempts to direct us to a website vs. actually writing an official query letter. The likelihood we’ll go to the website to learn more, when it’s evident there was no time to write a query little isn’t likely.
To Dawn Frederick———-submitting query and intro. for completed mystery novel titled, [TITLE REMOVED]. You did say you usually don’t handle fiction, but maybe you’d make an exception for this excellent novel. Of course I’m a little prejudiced.
-Mystery or novel, not “mystery novel.” Knowing the representative categories, but still ignoring them is not a good use of time. (As a quick glance at my categories will reflect I don’t represent mysteries)
As we enter week #2, follow our steps on how query will survive the initial process of finding an agent (or editor). It’s essential that while your heart may be dedicated to the writing process, that the same care and attention is given to how a query is prepared and/or received by its intended recipients.