Inside Scoop: Dish From a Literary Agent Intern – More on Queries

8025427_1For my second official blog post as Linda’s intern I’ve decided to write about queries. I know, you’re thinking another query blog? Well, yes! Because no matter how many times the specifications of what is asked for when sending in a query are discussed, there are people who (ready for it?) STILL don’t do it correctly. *Gasp*

What I’m going to be talking about today are the parts of the query where you pitch. That’s right folks, believe it or not they matter. Not just the pitches about your manuscript, but the pitches about yourselves too. Since I’ve been reading so many queries and seeing just how people try to sell themselves and their manuscripts I wanted to point out a few things.

  • Don’t sell yourself more than your manuscript. It happens. Sometimes there is a bit about the manuscript, promptly followed (or sometimes preceded) by the 15 literary awards that the author has won, the numerous associations they are part of and countless other facts, both related and not. Please include information about yourself, but do it with some humility in mind. That is not to say giving information about your successes isn’t important. Awards are great, just let them be relevant to your writing or your manuscript. If you are sending in a YA novel, I don’t need to know you have won awards for making pottery.
  • Do not compare your manuscript to 3 other books that have no common thread. It does not make more sense or give an idea of what your book is actually about. Do not say it’s a cross between Harry Potter and To Kill a Mockingbird with a twist of Gone with the Wind. That does not give a clear depiction of what your book is about or make much sense. Instead, give a picture of the story you created, using your own words and thoughts. It’s ok to include comps when they truly describe an aspect of your manuscript you can’t describe any other way. But describing your manuscript with your own words can give a much better idea of what it is and how you see it.
  • Make sure you give a concise summary of your manuscript. We want to be able to get a sense of what you are talking about. Being bombarded with too many thoughts about your manuscript can muddle the clear depiction you want to give. You want to make sure you will grab the interest of whoever is reading your query so they will want to give your manuscript a chance. Keeping it down to a couple of paragraphs is more than enough to tell about your manuscript.

Kim Photo BioSo that’s what I have for you this month! Thank you for taking the time to read my pointers and I hope this was helpful in your pursuit of finding an agent. I wish you continued luck on your journey and I’ll talk to you soon! Let me know in the comments section below if you have specific things you’d like me to blog about in the future.

Kimberly Richardson is currently interning for Linda Epstein at The Jennifer De Chiara Literary Agency, while pursuing her Masters degree in Pace University’s Publishing Program. You can follow Kimberly on Twitter @kimberly_ann688.


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3 responses to “Inside Scoop: Dish From a Literary Agent Intern – More on Queries

  1. i love the suggestion of using your own words to describe your manuscript instead of bending and twisting to make comps work. i personally am terrible at comps and prefer to use my own words.

  2. The part about the comps made me laugh. Well put;)

  3. Nice job Kimberly! And good timing. I was scratching my head just the other day about ‘what do I tell this agent about me?’ Tidbits about me being a cow girl at thirteen should probably be omitted from a bio if a book is based, let’s say in CT.