Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Even Colbie Caillat Has To Send A Query: A Basic Guide To The Process

Many times those of us who have finished a writing project and are attempting to get published will say that we are “querying” agents, and anyone who has never had exposure to the massive amount of available publishing information might wonder what the heck we’re talking about. So, here is a brief guide for the uninformed:

The querying process is a lot like finding a job: you browse the want ads, submit a resume, go for interviews, get turned down a lot, and finally land some form of employment.

The want ads for writers are (generally) agent listings. Agents will give information about what kinds of writing they are looking for, and the wise writer picks only the agents that match up.

The resume is the query letter, and it represents both you and your work. Just like with any job, you want your resume to be crisp, concise, and compelling. Also just like any job, no one gets hired strictly off of the resume.

The interview is the request for materials. This is where the agent, intrigued by the query letter, asks to see some or all of the work you’re trying to get accepted. Just like you wouldn’t show up at an interview disheveled, drunk, or distracted, your manuscript should be the best representation it can be.

There might be more interviews for a job, and there might be more requests from the agent. You might even get a phone call or two. They might even seem GREAT. But, anyone that has ever been job hunting knows, you don’t have the job til you’re offered it. Same thing with this process, until an agent offers representation, you don’t have an agent.

And that’s ok.

There have been plenty of jobs that, in retrospect, I’m so glad I didn’t get. Great interviews, great jobs, just not for me. Same principle applies to agents. There are a lot of great agents, and some may even really enjoy your work, but in the end, only one will be the right fit for your work.

Now, if we could just find that danged unemployment line…

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