Monday, December 13, 2010

Thinking postive for 2011

So, all you out there in the query trenches (or hoping to enter them soon), let's step back from all the fears and worries that accompany hitting send on those emails (or putting the stamp on the letters). Let's assume that 2011 is going to be YOUR year! The year you get an agent! The year all your dreams come true! How many more exclamation points can I use?!

Ahem. Anyway, so yes, let's think positive, shall we? Good. Now, what do you do when that call comes--the one where an agent tells you why they love your book enough to offer to represent you? Do you immediately scream, "Yes! Yes! Please, please send me the contract right now, I will Fed-Ex it back to you tonight!!" (See, don't ever doubt my ability to throw in more exclamation points.) By the way, the answer is NO. Big N. O. As tempting as it is to just accept the first offer you get, you need to take some time and truly make sure this agent is a good fit for you. You should have some questions prepared to ask them, and you should be prepared to give the other agents who are considering your partials or fulls a week to see if they also want to offer or not. To many of you this will be familiar territory, but to some, you might be hyperventilating right now, thinking I've lost it.

I promise I haven't. So this week, I'm going to do two posts relating to this subject: one on Wednesday about what to look for in a prospective agent, and on Friday I am going to be announcing the winners to my contest and answering some of your questions. Wait--"what contest?" you might be asking. This one:

As my Christmas present to you, I am going to offer to critique two follower's query letters. Because let's face it, you're not going to get to that agent call, if your query doesn't generate some requests, right? I'm not claiming to be an expert, but after a couple of years in those trenches I got pretty good at queries. I'm making it really easy to enter this time. Just comment on this post with one question you'd like me to answer about queries or picking an agent or something else about the query process, and you are entered! The random number generator will pick two lucky (well, hopefully my critique will be good enough to make you think you're lucky) winners to email me their queries on Friday morning. You have until Thursday night at 10:00 pm MST to enter. I know it's not as cool as a gift card, or a Kindle or something, but hopefully it will be helpful.

Happy Monday and good luck!

20 comments:

Shari said...

Looking forward to Wednesday!

Carolyn V. said...

That is great advice Sara! I agree. I'm sure the agent would be glad the writer took the time to make sure they would work well together too. =)

Caroline Starr Rose said...

I hope this doesn't sound like a total downer, but I've started the last ten or so years with "this is going to be my year!" I've gotten closer and closer with each year. If you treat each year like "the year", your work can only improve.

DL Hammons said...

Oh...oh...oh...randomn number generator pick me!!!!!!

Here's my question. How much do you go into possible revisions the agent my want before signing on the dotted line? What if they don't want to go into detail?

Carolina Valdez Miller said...

Super contest! But next time you have a contest, tell me in advance so I can include it in my latest blog post :P

I hope 2011 will be a successful year. See, positive already! I hope it will be your year, too. A very BIG year full of exciting news and contracts and beautiful things. I look forward to celebrating with you.

Colene Murphy said...

Yeay! Fun!! I definitely need query help. I just want you to know this post psyched me up so big with all those exclamations and all that, especially cause I want to start querying this coming year, I was all "YEA TAKE THE OFFER WHOO! oh...rats..." So. Totally got me so pumped I forgot to think. ;) Can't wait for more on this!

Kathi Oram Peterson said...

Great advice! And what a generous offer.

pensees said...

Hmmm... a question on queries...

Should you mention that you sent a query a year (or more ago) when re-querying after making substantial edits? Or just forget about ever querying that project to that agent again?

Samantha VĂ©rant said...

I. Am. Keeping. My. Fingers. Crossed. As. I. Type. This. Which could explain the bizarre single word format. Or not! I'm all set with my query letter, but just wanted to pop in and say hello!

Jennie Bailey said...

I would be jumping up and down over the Wednesday post if my aching body weren't still recovering from a bug. You always have such great information! How do you whittle your book down to one small paragraph without leaving anything important out? Do you give away your ending? Or keep it secret? I'll be querying by Spring, but I have so much trouble with narrowing it down and getting to the good stuff (yes, I've tried a few times just for practice)! Thanks for doing this!!

alexia said...

Fun! I can always use query help... starting a new round in January. Question: When you get THE CALL, if your brain goes completely blank from mega freaking out excitement, what is the one question you should not forget to ask? Sorry, that's probably totally unfair. No pressure :)

Kathryn said...

Wondering how your husband reacted when you signed with an agent! What was your family's reaction? :)

Emy Shin said...

These are great advice! A question, hmm... Did you have a process for querying? Did you query all agents at once, or send five queries, wait a week, then send five more, etc.?

Nicole Zoltack said...

Queries always need to be tweaked so I would love to win!

My question: How do you know when your query is ready?

Danyelle said...

Thanks for your generosity. :)

Question: If you have more than one offer of representation, how do you handle telling the other agents that you didn't pick?

Theresa Milstein said...

Since we often send queries with pages, how do we know when it's the query or the pages or other?

Brooke said...

Great contest and thank you for your generosity!

My question is what happens if you have more than one project ready to query?

Susan Fields said...

I'd take a query critique over a gift card any day! Thanks for offering this contest!

My question: I've heard that queries should be extremely short and to the point, yet often when I read a magazine article on queries that worked, they're pretty lengthy. What's a good word count for a query?

Can I ask another question? If not, just disregard. :) Say you get that call from an agent offering representation. Do you then email the other agents who are considering partials and fulls and tell them you have an offer and give them a deadline?

Kristine said...

Great contest Sarah--I'm getting in under the wire here.

Here's my questions--I've done some work-for-hire and had a few things published. Is that impressing an agent? Or should I downplay it in my query?

Thanks again for the opportunity.

Rachel Searles said...

Thanks for offering this contest! My question: how many people did you have critique your query before you sent it out?