Hey Literary nerds, I’m Meg LaTorre-Snyder
and on this episode of iWriterly I’m here to talk to you about a Querying Checklist. When writers begin querying, there always
seems to be that moment at the beginning of the process where you find SO MANY RESOURCES. All with great advice. All with advice on different things. And nothing that seems to cover everything
or in simplified enough terms for an overwhelmed writer. I remember when I first began querying, I
tore apart every article, every blog, particularly the ones that showed you successful queries. But what I wanted was a (moderately) simply
checklist of the things to include (or not to include in your query). Now, I know not everyone thinks in concrete
terms or bullets (like my brain often gears towards), but you might find a checklist
helpful during your querying process. Consider listening to this checklist before
sending your next query. First, check the guidelines
Go to the literary agency’s submissions guidelines. Check how they want solicited (vs. unsolicited)
submissions—attachments, no attachments, etc. Go to the individual agent’s page/bio page on
the website to see who is open to submissions. Select one agent who represents books in your
age group and genre to submit to. Second, format your subject line.
In the submission guidelines, did the literary agents specify what to put in the subject line? If so, follow that. If they didn’t, Consider something to the effect of: Query:
[MANUSCRIPT TITLE IN ALL CAPS], Genre, Age Group (Attn: Name of agent)
Personalize Third, personalize. Personalization isn’t always advantageous or necessary. However, there are a few instances where it can be helpful: If you met the agent at a conference or in person, mention that at the beginning of your query. If the agent requested your manuscript through
something such as a contest, such as a Twitter pitch event, say that at the beginning of your query. If you were given a referral by someone in
the industry to query this particular agent, also state that at the beginning of your query. If you found the literary agent online and simply noticed they are open to submissions in the age group and genre of your manuscript, no need to go crazy on the personalization. Simply stating you noticed they are open to
submissions in [genre/age group] is fine. Spell the agent’s name correctly. Honestly, it’s the best kind of personalization
you can do. Fourth, include a hook.
Grab the literary agent’s attention with a bold first line. It could be a traditional hook or it could
be a daring first sentence that screams PAY ATTENTION TO ME. For examples of hooks, check out some of the links below. Fifth, summarize your story & its marketability.
Introduce your protagonist, the plot, the stakes, all the while, being careful not to reveal the ending of your story. Ideal length: 1-3 paragraphs. (Again, check the agency guidelines in case
they specify preferences.) For more information on how to write the story
summary, check out my blog titled How to Write the Perfect Plot Summary for Your Query, check out the links below. Six, craft a one-paragraph bio
Some of the credentials to include that bio: If you’ve been published previously If you’ve had an agent previously
If you have certain experiences that are relevant why you’re the best
person to write this story If you have a significant social media following
(tens of thousands of followers) A brief sentence on what you do other than
writing (job, hobbies, etc.) Seventh, include a signature.
The following elements are good things to include in your signature:
Full name Pen name (if you have one)
Website/blog URL Email
Social media handles/links Eighth, follow up… sometimes… Some agencies specify on their websites that if you don’t hear back from them, it’s a rejection from the agency. For those agencies, respect their wishes and don’t email to follow up to inquire about your submissions. For agencies that specify to follow up if
you haven’t heard from them, reply to your previous submission,
and include any attachments (if they wanted attachments) but make sure all your initial submissions such as your pages and synopsis are included in your follow-up email That’s it for the checklist! Remember: A query is a one-page cover letter
to market your book and convince the literary agent they need (not want) to read more.