Friday, February 18, 2011

Why . . .

. . . did you choose the agents you chose to query?

As every reader knows by know, I'm about to query. I've gotten the Query Ninja's (Elana) stamp of approval on my query and I've picked out three agents to query.

Yep, only three at this point.

The question I asked myself last night is why those three agents.

The second question I asked my self - Self, should you put 'why' you're querying said agents in your query letter? Okay, I didn't really ask myself that question. Okay, maybe I did.

I could just see this line in my query: I've admired you from afar (well, from the blogsphere). Then, I could see a restraining order in my immediate future. Scratch that line. Ha!

Then, how do I put what made me choose that agent - the why - in my query without, well, seeming to, well, suck up, kiss butt, whatever to said agent?

Yeah, that's a tricky one, isn't it?

So, one of the agents I'm planning on querying mentions on their site that they're looking for projects with a unique voice or look and something important to say. Woo-hoo! They just described my project. So, my line in the intro is going to be: I feel that TITLE OF BOOK is perfect for your agency because it has a unique voice (then again, doesn't every author think their project has a unique voice?) and something important to say. Yeah, I don't think that line's going to be added to my query any time in the near future either. Can you say AUTO-REJECT! Well, maybe not, but still . . . the line might be a bit too flip, a tad snarky . . . but so am I.

That little dilemma brought up the question: do I sterilize my query so much, that who I am as an individual - a bit flip at times, more than a tad snarky - doesn't show through?

I hate writing essays - formal, dull, boring. So, in college, I began to take chances with my essays - less formal, a bit snarky, and . . . I got great grades on the papers. I had one professor come up to me in the hallway and tell me she absolutely LOVED what I did with the essay, and that she howled with laughter (in a good way) when reading my paper. To me, that was the ultimate praise, because I put me in my essay.

I want to put me in my query.

Anyhow, I'm digressing more than Sophia Petrillo did in seven seasons of The Golden Girls.

I chose the first agent because of the concepts listed on their website, and because of the posts on the blog that, at least in my opinion, carried the same outrage, irreverence, and passion that I put into my posts when I'm, well, outraged. After reading those posts - I followed the blog first - I investigated the agency a bit more and realized I wanted to query said agent.

The second and third agents I found through blogs I follow. There was something about each agent that, well, spoke to me. There was something they said on their sites, in the interviews, that clicked with me. Yeah, they also represent my genre, but . . . that wasn't the primary reason I chose any of those agents.

So, with all this rambling on a Friday morning, my question to those who have agents, and those looking for agents: Why do you choose who you choose? Solely because they represent your genre? Or, is there some deeper reason? Please comment away.

Have a great Friday.



Stina Lindenblatt said...

First, they have to rep my genre. That's a no brainer, though some writers still haven't figured this one out.

The ones I'm having the most success with are the ones who have mentioned their specific interests somewhere (like edgy YA). The ones who usually just mention they rep YA are the ones who usually reject my query. But these are the individuals who don't actually read the genre (or much of it). They're just repping it because it's where the money's at. And that's not who I want as my agent.

Scott said...

@Stina - thanks for commenting. Seriously, people query agents who don't rep their genre? I'm sorry, but that's just idiotic. The first thing I check when looking at a specific agent is whether or not they represent my genre. Geesh. The three agents (so far) I've picked definitely have mentioned specifics which make me think they'd like what my project offers. I'm keeping my fingers crossed . . . and I haven't even sent out the first query yet. Soon, very soon.

Oh, and I'm also with you about picking an agent that's doing it because they're actually interested in the genre, and not just because that's where the almighty $$ is at. I write what I write because I love writing it, not because it's currently the hot trend.


Charlie said...

I haven't queried as of yet so I cannot answer your questions. However, after your full is requested, accepted, and published, (no if's allowed), could you post your query? I love seeing successful queries in various stages of creation.

Best of luck!

Tess said...

okay, Scott..I have a real opinion on this one and you might be sorry you asked but here goes:

I think we do ourselves a disservice when we only look at "online presence" agents (bloggers themselves or big presence on other blogs). I am sure they are great but YOU KNOW they get a ton of queries because they are ...well, public, you know? And, all of this takes time away from their clients. Throw eggs, that's okay...I still think it.

There are amazing agents out there who are not "online". You can find them at or other agent listing sights. You can research them by finding their website (and they should at least have a website) and also by READING their clients books.

then, you can query and say, "I loved ZZZ book and think my novel would be a good fit for your list." See? personal without being stalkerish.

okay. I'm done.

will you still be my friend?

Scott said...

@Charlie – definitely! I’ll post all versions of the query.

@Tess – I use QueryTracker and the other database to get a general idea of agents. Then, I start doing my research. Hello, Google!! In fact, if a literary agent doesn’t have a website, I won’t consider them.

The fact is, two of the agents I’m considering were mentioned on blogs I follow, and did interviews with said bloggers. I then went to their websites to get a better feel for what they want and whether I thought they might consider my work. I don’t think any of the three have a blog, because the one agent pulled his blog about a month ago.

I’m not one just to rely on agents who blog. I only follow one agent, now, who blogs, and that’s Janet Reid. She makes me laugh with her posts. She also scares me, which is probably why I’d never query her, even though she reps my genre. Ha.

I agree that many writers do themselves a disservice by relying solely on agents who Blog or Twitter, because they do miss out on the ones, possibly “The One”, who don’t. I also check out the ‘Predators and Editors’ ( site and ‘Writer Beware’ before even considering submitting to an agent.

And, I’m still your friend. I wouldn’t dismiss you as a friend for given an honest and heartfelt comment . . . which I totally agree with. Now, if I disagreed . . . Ha! Kidding.

Thanks for your words of wisdom. Hopefully followers of my blog will take them to heart . . . and always, always check out and, oh, and

Tess said... HAVE really thought this out. I'm impressed! And, I wasn't really talking about you...I was talking about those people who think agents are rock stars because they blog. Those agents may very well be rock stars...but for every one of those there are a handful of super agents who don't blog. know this already.

happy friday! will it be a margarita night for you? i'll be having a diet coke night over here :)

Scott said...

@Tess - LOL! Yes, I have thought it out, and I knew you weren't targeting me specifically with your comment. I just wanted to let other writers know that I agreed with you, and give them some of the sites to look for when researching (that's the key word) agents.

And yes, margaritas every Friday: neither sleet, nor rain, nor snow, will stop the margarita flow! Ha!

Essay said...

A good writer has to have a good mind to see things that aren't there, things that are different from his or her reality, but also able to convince the readers that those things are true or relatively true.

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Robyn Campbell said...

Scott, you have been deep in thought, I see. I target the agents that have clients with the same elements that are in my story. And I ALWAYS mention an author on their list and their book in the first sentence. As to your Tess comment. Scott, there are many reputable agents that don't have websites for one reason or the other.

I love this: "something they said on their sites, in the interviews, that clicked with me." The clicking with you. That's what we want in an agent. If there's no clicking, well, we're in trouble from the get-go.

This is a super post, my friend.