We've all seen those tweets with the #queries/#querytip hashtag and we've retweeted and taken notes. I've pulled together all the notes I have on queries so far.
1. Don't start queries with clauses
ex: With Melanie Gray on the verge of..., Heather...
2. No first POV
I've seen agents vary on this, though. Like Nelson Literary Agency. I'm sure one of their new clients wrote a 1st POV query.
3. Read author under the agent's name and their guidelines.
You'd be surprised how different guidelines can be from agent to agent. They also want personalized letters. Writers who query want to get pubbed (duh) and just mass querying makes you look like you're desperate for it. If you do your research and show it in your letter, it shows that you took the time to find someone you want to work with. (Don't waste my time, I won't waste yours--agent rule)
4. Avoid acronyms everyday people wouldn't understand
MIA most of us know to be Missing in Action. FBI we might not all know but we have some idea what it means. ME most of us would draw a blank on. (ME=Medical Examiner. Thank you, Liana Brooks.)
5. Don't give the point of the story, let it show.
Don't say the theme, let it show through. Can't let it show? Just talk about the story up until the deciding point.
6. Don't be redundant and for everyone's benefit: K.I.S.S. (tell me you know this one. I hate using the word stupid. Oh well: Keep it simple, stupid.)
7. Edit queries.
Let them age. You age and edit your MS don't you? Queries TOO.
8. 250 word count is good for a query. (1 pg)
9. No links
The way I see it, but agents probably don't--I don't know--, they have no reason to trust you or put extra effort. Again, never heard an agent say that but that's the way I see it.
The point is to entice the agent into asking for more and letting the agent fall in love with your story. Agents WANT to fall in love with your work. They love books just as much as you do so do your part to hook them and reel them in :)
Have something to add? Feel free to comment below!