Guest Post: In the Querying Trenches

A wise book coach once advised that the query letter sells agents on reading the pitch. The pitch entices them to want more. 

When I first started pitching to agents, I had a few full MS requests. (Yay!) 

Wrong.

But I didn’t give up. A few months later, I attended a workshop by Jennie Nash and then met my tried-and-true book coach Robin Henry.

Here are some tips and a few things I have learned along the way to help you keep your  query out of the “no” pile. 

Research! Research! Research!

Before you do anything, make sure you know something about the agent you wish to pitch. This helps tremendously when it comes to writing your letter. (And it’s kind of fun!)

Do they have a podcast you enjoy? Check out their bio. Does their wish list include genres/topics that resonate with your book? Did they post something on social media that you enjoyed? 

Honestly, I think one reason agents have responded to my queries is that I only pitch agents I have researched. Find an authentic way to connect to them in one opening sentence. It’s friendly and shows that you genuinely want to reach out to them, not just any agent who will give you a chance. 

Check their Submission Guidelines

Every agent is different. Some want 20 pages, some want a chapter, and some want a query letter written in a specific manner. 

Follow their submission requirements and then double-check yourself. It shows that you’re a professional and not a rookie.

Some agents might have you fill out your query on Query Manager, which is nice because you can track your query.

Response Times

Grab a cup of coffee, cuddle your dog, or take a walk. You’ve sent your baby out into the world! Patience is your superpower.

The submission guidelines may tell you how much time to expect to wait for a response. If not, wait a few months and then consider sending a short checking-in email. 

Still nothing? Don’t sweat it. It might be a pass, but that means you haven’t met the right agent for you—yet. 

Rejection/Restart:

When I receive a rejection letter, I respond with a brief thank you and then hit the print button. 

If they provide any feedback, take what you can from that to make your book better. Feedback is gold. 

Then I have a little ritual that makes the rejection sting a little less: 

There’s a nail on my studio wall where my rejection letters hang like badges of honor. Maybe I’m a masochist, but I know that one day, I’m going to place a letter at the top of that pile from an agent that believes in my book as much as I do. 

I hope this helps, and good luck!  

This guest post was written by Tara Bradley Connell, a Readerly Writer currently pitching her book.

Published by Robin Henry

Independent Scholar and Book Coach specializing in Historical Fiction and Literary Fan Fiction.

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