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Q & A – Querying a Literary Agent – Part 3
Welcome to the final part of this series. By now, you should be getting a good idea of what you should and shouldn’t be doing in your query letter. Just a few more questions and you will have the whole picture.
I’m Pitching a Novel; Do I Talk About Writer Platforms and Marketing in the Query?
As far as novels and fiction work go, the actual pitch is the important part of the query letter. You can mention marketing and platforms if you wish but keep it to a minimum. If you have some credibility in terms of promotion then this will help you over the long term in getting good sales figures. However, you can have as good a marketing plan and platform as you want; if your novel is mediocre at best, it won't do any good. On that note, list whatever skills you have but do NOT let it overshadow your writing – the most important part of selling a novel.
Should I Use Email or Snail Mail For My Query?
That will depend on what your agent asks for. If they give you the choice then opt for email – it is quicker and it's free. At least 90% of all queries are sent by email and those are the two top reasons why – speed and cost. You do need to check the submission guidelines for the agents you choose – they will tell you exactly what they expect and how they want to receive your submission. Follow these guidelines to the letter and you can't go too far wrong.
I Am Writing My Memoirs; How Do I Pitch it?
There are two ways to pitch a book – a novel is pitched when the entire manuscript is completed and a non-fiction book is pitched with a finished proposal and a couple of chapters. Around 80% of agents tend to review memoirs as if they are novels but there are those who don’t. The choice is down to you. Either write the entire manuscript or the book proposal and the first few chapters. Or, if you want to be even more professional, do both – finish the manuscript and the book proposal and the agent can review it however they see fit. Do check with their guidelines again though; they will tell you what they want.
As an aside, whenever you pitch an agent, be aware that they will want to know more about you and the first place they turn to is Google. They will look at your website if you have one, your social media pages, and they will be looking to see what, if any, information is held about you on the internet. They want to know if you are a savvy writer who engages with their audience or if you have anything dark and sinister hiding in your past. Mostly, an agent is just looking to see the ways in which you present yourself to others; it gives them a clue as to what may lie ahead!
Written by Readers’ Favorite Reviewer Anne-Marie Reynolds