Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Rachele's Top Ten Words of Advice When Querying Agents and Winners

Thanks to everyone who entered my query letter/manuscript critique contest. I'm looking forward to reading your pieces and (hopefully!) offering some useful feedback.

Before we get to the winners...I thought it might be useful to give some general query letter advice. Pay attention...this is good stuff to know!

Rachele's Advice When Querying:

10) Step away from the computer. You will become obsessed with refreshing your e-mail to see if you heard back from an agent. Get out of the house. Let your computer battery run down. Find a show you can become obsessed with (I recommend The Real Housewives series on Bravo. Nothing helps you forget more than trashy shows full of older woman fighting. It will suck you in and we'll forget for a break...fleeting...moment about the agents you've queried.).

9) Speaking of agents you query...keep a list. Check it twice. Check off those who your hear from and those who you don't. Nothing sucks more than finding out your sent a letter to an agent twice or to two in the same agency.

8) Spell the agent's name right. This is advice coming from someone who has lived her life with her name "Rachele" misspelled. It stinks. It makes me mad when people can't double check and make sure they have my name right. Agents feel the same way. Make sure you get it right.

7) Don't make changes to your manuscript while querying. Remember how I told you to step away from the computer? Well, also step away from the manuscript. Your manuscript should be done when you start querying. Revising, making changes and keeping track of this can be one big mess.

6) Don't discuss your querying experience by name (or allude to or reference things that someone may be able to figure out). Agents are watching. They google their names and find them on your blogs and twitter accounts. They read discussion boards and forums. You want to be professional when querying agents. Talking about who rejected you, how they rejected you or even how much you love an agent could come back to haunt you.

5) Don't take things too personal. Agents are agents and they have a job to sell books. If they don't like your book, there will be someone else who does. Don't place some weird voodoo hex on the agent, don't get angry at the agent or bad mouth them online and not write them back. The agent is taking out a personal vendetta against you, they're doing their job. All they know of you is your letter. Instead, chalk it up to a good story about all your rejections that you'll tell when you become an award winning author and move on to querying another agent.

4) Candy helps while you're writing your letter and researching agents. Lots of candy. Okay, who am I kidding...candy helps all the time!

3) Agents can take a long time to respond. Agents can take even longer to read your full. Be patient. Don't bug them. I know some people are believers in a reminder e-mail about two or three months after sending a manuscript, but you must wait two or three months. Two or three weeks will irritate the agent and two or three days will freak them out.

2) Be yourself in your query letter. Find your voice and let it come out. While it's important to have a solid letter, I think it's equally important to have a letter that represents you. If your letter is too formal, it will read as that. I feel like too much revising can make a query letter become cold and impersonal. Stress over the letter, but only so much.

1) Only send what the agent requests from you. Do not send personal pictures of you and your dog at the Grand Canyon. Do not put confetti into the envelope or white powder. Vampires may glitter, but your letter shouldn't contain it. Don't spray perfume or send homemade cookies. However, you may send all of these things to me!

Truthfully, there's a ton more I can say about querying, but let's get on to the winners. I'll be able to offer advice through the form of feedback on your actual queries.

Okay...this morning I grabbed my "Paint Your Own Pottery" mug and put all the names of those who entered into it.

I shook it up a little bit...

And pulled out the winners for a query critique!

I shook it up some more an selected the two winners for a 30 page manuscript critique!

Woo-hoo! Thanks to all of you who entered! If you're a winner, please send your query letter or manuscript to my e-mail address:

I'm looking forward to reading them!


The Alliterative Allomorph said...

WoooHoooo!!!!! YAY! Thanks! I shall send promptly! :)

Matthew Rush said...

Shoot Rachele, I didn't want to be entered because I'm in the middle of revisions and the current query may not still apply once the revisions are done.

Oh well, I'll still send it to you to see what you think. You give great advice and you'll probably still be able to help me with some general things.

Congratulations to all the other winners!

Today's guest blogger is Michelle McLean!

Kara said...

Eek! This is the first time I've won anything, lol. Should the first 30 pages be a .doc file?

Thanks for holding this great contest!

Rachele Alpine said...

Kara...a word document would be perfect!'re did write that in your comments. Sorry! If you want to wait, you can send your query whenever...even if it's in a couple of months.

apalfrey said...

woo hoo! First time for me as well Kara.Thanks lots Rachele!
will send it out inna minute.

Falen said...

Woo Hoo! I'm so excited!
I'll send it off right now.

Kristan said...

Congrats to all the winners, and wow do you have a lot of work ahead of you, Rachele! But you're a doll to do it.

Also lol to the end of advice #1.

Erin B said...

Hey, I won some-thin , that just never happens to me… Okay, give me a second to scowl at the old query again….

And if it helps, feel free to use my query anyway you see fit to help the greater writing community. (But maybe not as a doormat or such – use discretion.) I’ve always thought my life should serve as an example – even if that’s an example of what NOT to do.

Again Rachele thanks for posting such a great contest, and having a wonderful (and sparkly!) blog.

Erin B.

Talli Roland said...

Congrats to all the winner!

What a great contest.

Bronwyn Scott-McCharen said...

Woohoo! This is the first contest I've won :D

Thanks again for doing this Rachele!

Sandy Shin said...

Yay, thank you for doing this, Rachele! And congrats to all the winners! :)

Thank you for the querying advice. Very useful!

Rachele Alpine said...

Congrats to all! I look forward to reading the queries you sent me!