Agents & Query Letters

There are thousands of literary agents out there, but thanks to the Internet, it’s fairly easy (notice I didn’t say quick) to
identify those who represent your genre of work and new authors (if that’s your case).  Unfortunately, like in any
profession, there are some not-so-honest and not-so-ethical agents out there.  For example, beware of agents who
charge reading or up-front fees.

Try Predators & Editors ( for listings of agents and publishers based on a standard rating criteria.  There
is also a free service,
Agent Research & Evaluations, that collects complaints about literary agents.

Here are some reliable sources for finding an agent.


The basic components of a query letter follow.

Two to three sentences that include the title of your book, genre, number of words and target audience.

A one-sentence hook that will spark the agent's interest and entice him/her to read further.

A short synopsis that captures the flavor of the entire book.  Reducing your 90,000 word novel into one paragraph is
daunting, and you’ll probably revise it more times than you did your novel itself.  Try reading the back covers of books
similar to yours for inspiration.

Your bio and credentials.  Include only information that is directly relevant to the book.

Close with a “thank you” and letting them know the complete manuscript is available upon request.

Agents and editors receive a multitude of inquiries each week, and so the query letter needs to be direct and to the
point, free of any cuteness or glitz and restricted to one page with ample margins if in hard copy form and 300 words if
in e-format.  Obviously, it needs to be letter perfect. After all, it’s showing the recipient your ability to write.

Send query letters to an actual person rather than blindly to a firm, and if they have specific instructions as to how to
submit materials, follow them to a tee.
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