7/29/10

Getting ready to query

Now that Urban Mythos has been birthed and revised, I'm starting to focus on query letters and such. As a result of  coming in as runner up on the July Secret Agent Contest over at Miss Snark's First Victim, I've got a partial manuscript out as well as an "invited query"+10 pages from an agent who only accepts queries by invitation. So, that's good news.

I focused like heck on getting a two page synopsis together (Thanks, Frankie!!!) and then a reasonable query letter (Thanks everyone on WDC!). After several revisions, I'm happy with the results. However, I've got another query letter on YALitChat's Query Kickaround for further critique. The good news is that the early word is quite positive. Some tweaking was required, but nothing major.

While repaying the critiquing favors and/or paying it forward, I noticed a lot of writers making the same mistake I made with my initial query letter. (the first draft). It looked and read like a mini-synopsis. Since I wrote my synopsis first, the transition to query letter took a few tries, and as evidenced by what I read on YALitChat, the same thing probably happened with some other writers. The queries suffered from too much detail and too many characters. They didn't focus on the hook, the character and the conflict.

Also, the last few nights I've been doing more agent research. If you click on the  Pubs and Agents tab atop this blog, you'll note that I have a very deep list of YA and Middle Grade publishers and literary agents. I've developed this list over the years and add to it periodically. I've been going through my list, cross checking with some other excellent resources, such as Casey McCormick's Literary Rambles, where she spotlights numerous agents. Check her blog out. It's amazing.

I've got some criteria I can share for what would make an agent a match for me:
  • Represents Young Adult
  • Has sold Young Adult
  • Is interested in genre fiction, specifically fantasy, and especially urban fantasy 
  • If I met them or heard them speak at a conference, what did I think of them?
  • Do their tweets, blogs, interviews give me a positive impression. 
  • Based on interviews or anything else I can find, make sure there is nothing subtle to make me think Urban Mythos would not be for them.
Here's a great example of this last bullet point. A certain agent for whom I have a tremendous amount of respect was quoted as saying he/she did not like books that opened with the narrator introducing themselves by name.  Urban Mythos opens with the following dialog: "My name is Zydeco and I am a recovering mythological creature." Technically, I don't think this agent was referring to how I opened my novel, but I'm not taking any chances.

For each agent that seems like it's a possible fit, I add them to my list on querytracker, and if I've got interviews or other research I've done, I'll add links to those findings in the notes. Lots of agents are not taking submissions until the summer is over, so querying will be light this August. I'm going to post the query on YALitChat's Agent Inbox to see if there are any nibbles.

And that's about where I am. The journey continues.

2 comments:

Medeia Sharif said...

What a great approach. This research will pay off.

Jay said...

Thanks, Medeia. I'm keeping my fingers crossed!