Querying Agents, the Dating Analogy

Don’t be surprised if the querying process proves one of the darkest times in your life as a writer (as is the case for many of us). Querying is like going on blind dates as a really unattractive person. It is asynchronous, internet blind dating that involves such long waiting times you’re often not sure if you’ve been stood up entirely (you can feel free to assume so if you haven’t received a response after a year).

Your query (with or without the first 5 pages) is the first, blind date–you will make a good impression, or get a “not my type” step-aside.

A partial request for the first 3 chapters (or up to 50 pages) is the second date–getting to know your book better, considering getting serious with you.

A full request for the entire manuscript is the third date, when the agent sees everything–and decides if you are well-matched enough that you can sign a contract and make it official.

Try not to query more than 6-8 agents at a time. No bites, tweak your query. No bites after partials, fix your pages. No bites after fulls, work on the whole manuscript (hopefully they gave constructive advice).

Look up agents by genre on Agent Query or Query Tracker as well as Preditors & Editors and the agents’ individual agency websites (for submission guidelines). Check out new agent alerts.

You can record your queries on Query Tracker.

Final Portfolio

Final portfolios will consist of

1) Your (polished) first 5 pages

2) A synopsis (your revised outline complete with ending)

3) Your query

4) A cover letter.

Your cover letter will discuss each of the previous three items (5 pages, synopsis, query), how they have evolved, what you have revised and changed in them based on feedback from peers and the instructor, and possibly what you hope to work on in the future.

Just email me everything in one document by next Wednesday (12/11) at midnight.

PW Lunch Weekly

Karen Whiddon’s THE LONG WAIT, continuing her Anniversary, Texas miniseries with a suspenseful romance between a rancher trying to rebuild and a widow whose life is in jeopardy, to Patience Bloom at Harlequin Romantic Suspense and Harlequin Nocturne, in an eight-book deal, for publication in 2014 and 2015, by Lucienne Diver at The Knight Agency.

Suzanne Rock’s AT HIS SERVICE, which takes place in the glittering world of a family’s hotel empire and follows the boundary pushing relationship between a maid and the hotel owner, to Eileen Rothschild at St. Martin’s, in a two-book deal, by Deidre Knight at The Knight Agency (World English).

Joshua Cohen’s THE BOOK OF NUMBERS, the story of a ghostwriter pulling back the veils of the tech world, as revealed by the life story of the enigmatic billionaire founder and CEO of Tetration, which started by revolutionizing the search engine and later ventured into smartphones, computer manufacturing, and the surveillance of American citizens, to Samuel Nicholson at Random House, in a pre-empt, and UK rights to Michal Shavit at Harvill Secker, in a pre-empt, by Edward Orloff at McCormick & Williams Literary Agency.
Rights: sh@mccormickwilliams.com

Children’s: Middle grade
Caldecott Honor-winning author of Blackout and illustrator for the Percy Jackson and the Olympians series, John Rocco’s first middle grade adventure SWIM THAT ROCK, written with Jay Primiano, pitched in the tradition of Stand by Me and Mud, and set in Rhode Island during the pivotal summer in the life of a fourteen-year-old boy who becomes the only hope to save his family’s diner after his father goes missing in a fishing boat accident, to Karen Lotz at Candlewick, by Rob Weisbach at Rob Weisbach Creative Management (world).

Children’s: Young Adult
MEANT TO BE author Lauren Morrill’s THE TROUBLE WITH DESTINY, pitched as “Pitch Perfect” meets A Midsummer Night’s Dream on a cruise, about a drum major who must save her school band and navigate romantic disasters when their ship gets stranded at sea, and MY UNSCRIPTED LIFE, in which a sarcastic girl finds herself falling for a hot celebrity who is filming his next movie in her small town, again to Wendy Loggia at Delacorte, for publication in Fall 2015 and Fall 2016, respectively, by Stephen Barbara at Foundry Literary + Media on behalf of Paper Lantern Lit (North American).

Winner of the Hugo, Nebula, and World Fantasy Awards for his short story The Paper Menagerie, Ken Liu’s debut fantasy series, The Dandelion Dynasty, about a charming bandit and the son of a deposed duke who seem like polar opposites yet, in the uprising against the emperor, they quickly become the best of friends after a series of adventures, and a short story collection, to Joe Monti at Simon & Schuster Children’s new imprint, by Russell Galen at Scovil Galen Ghosh Literary Agency (NA).

Host of MTV’s #1 show Catfish, Nev Schulman’s IN REAL LIFE: Love, Lies, and Identity in the Digital Age, a guide to connecting with others authentically in the era of social media — peppered throughout with his personal stories, the book delves deeply into the cultural dialogue that the show has already begun and offers advice, to Pippa White at Grand Central, at auction, for publication in September 2014, by CAA (World).

History/Politics/Current Affairs
London Review of Books senior editor Daniel Soar’s SPIES LIKE US, a new history of surveillance, which examines recent revelations about the NSA, big data, and cyber surveillance through the lens of espionage’s long history and the evolution of communication technology, to Paul Whitlatch at Scribner, in a pre-empt, by Andrea Joyce at Canongate (NA).
Australian and New Zealand rights to Michael Heyward at Text; Spanish rights to Miguel Aguilar at Debate; Norwegian to Halfdan Freihow at Font.

Winner of both the 2014 Sami Rohr Prize and the ALA’s Sophy Brody Medal for The Aleppo Codex, Matti Friedman’s PUMPKINFLOWERS, set in the 1990s, the true story of a band of Israeli soldiers, including the author, charged with holding one remote outpost in Lebanon, a task that will change them forever and ultimately foreshadow today’s unwinnable conflicts in Iraq, Afghanistan, and elsewhere, again to Amy Gash at Algonquin, by Judy Heiblum at Sterling Lord Literistic, in association with the Deborah Harris Agency (World English).

Kidnapped at the age of 21 by Ariel Castro and held captive for 11 years, Michelle Knight’s story of her ordeal, promising to reveal new details about her year alone in captivity as the first victim, as well as her escape, saying “I want to give every victim of violence a new outlook on life; We shall define ourselves not as victims but as victors, and this will lead us to peace,”
to Amanda Murray and Georgina Levitt at Weinstein Books, for publication in spring 2014, by Jan Miller at Dupree Miller & Associates (world).