Querying is a daunting task in itself. It feels like you’ve just braved the epic climb of a mountain and now you’re about to face the fire-breathing dragon. The most difficult thing about this journey is the rejection and self-doubt. That is why it’s important to make sure you query when you are ready. When your story is ready.
Rejection will hurt in the beginning, and each time you have this surge of hope, it will hurt again. But mostly it will be part of the job and it will only help if you see it as simply business. Which it is. Querying is very subjective and what one person will dislike, another agent will love. And you want an agent who truly loves your stuff. It really is a lot like dating. You don’t want someone to settle for you, you want someone to love everything (or at least almost everything) about you. The same with your novel. To make things a bit easier, here are some general query tips.
Make sure you’re ready
Never query a first draft, even if you do think it’s mind-blowingly awesome and makes people pee gold just by looking at it. Get beta-readers or even an editor to go over your final version and make sure that it’s the best that it can be. If an agent is going to reject you, it better be because it’s not their cup of tea, rather than because it’s poorly written. I had an agent who wasn’t looking for the project I queried but who told me that I should query her in the future if the project fit her wishlist. Also, remember to keep writing and query new projects to agents you really like. That way agents see that you can write more than just one book and that you are interested in them.
Do your research
Don’t just query anyone. Do your research to make sure you find the right person for you. The relationship with your agent is important and you want to make sure it’s a good fit. It’s better to have no agent than a bad agent. Agents can be picky, but so can you. Read their bios, check their website, their tweets, look at who they represent and browse interviews to get an idea of what kind of agent they are, as well as what they are looking for.
That’s not to just say that you shouldn’t start a query with ‘Yo, [agent’s first name]’ but also that you follow their guidelines. Agents can afford to be very picky and WILL be, so don’t make it too easy for them. If they want you to send a query wearing a purple hat while rubbing a puppy against your cheek, do it. If they want you to paste your submission in the body of the email, do it.
Check, check, double check
Again, make sure that every part of the query: the novel, the query letter, the synopsis is the best that it can be. You want to come across as a professional with a passion for your novel and a passion for writing.
Good luck and may the odds be ever in your favour.