Agent Suzie Townsend from New Leaf Literary gave a talk on Thursday that contained a lot of helpful advice for those looking for agents.
Query letter do’s:
- Keep paragraphs to about four lines each. Don’t block text together.
- In talking about the book, think of it as the first act or set up. Keep it centered on character not plot. Character drives plot.
- The letter should be about the book, not you (she’s talking about fiction).
- Keep the letter to 250 words or so.
Query letter don’ts:
- Don’t include marketing ideas. It’s not the time.
- Don’t compare your book to the biggest book titles our authors out there. It looks then like these are the only books you know.
- Don’t start with a question or the sentence, “Imagine . . .”
- Don’t tell an agent what he or she is looking for. He or she knows.
- Don’t send the first draft of your letter. Be sure to have others–both who have and haven’t read your manuscript–review it.
Some good websites she mentioned are bookjobs.com to look for jobs or internships, agentyquery.com and querytracker.net to find agents and their submission guidelines, and queryshark.blogspot.com to see some helpful but harsh reviews of actual letters.