10 Query Tips from a Literary Assistant — 11/15/2013

I’m a literary assistant at The Seymour Agency. Our agents, Mary Sue Seymour and Nicole Resciniti represent a range of genre: Christian/Inspirational, Fantasy/Science Fiction, Urban Fantasy, Women’s Lit, Romance, 

Welcome to another edition of 10 Query Tips from a Literary Assistant where every Friday I go back over my Twitter feed (@LaneHeymont) and address at least 10 query tips I posted during the week. Here’s this week’s edition:


1) When submitting to agents/editors/magazines make sure to keep track of when you’ve queried, who you’ve queried, if they sent you a confirmation, and the date of rejection. If you don’t you may end up sending us a duplicate query, resulting in one of two things. A) I remember the query, and look at yours, thinking, “What the …?” or B) I don’t remember your query, go searching through my CATALOGUE (we keep track of queries), find your original query and mutter to myself, “What the …?” So do us all a favor and keep track. #querytip


2) Don’t make fun of popular work — or any work — by published, or not, authors in your query. You might think glittery vampires are lame, but guess what, they’ve made money! Also, it smacks of jealousy and insecurity. You should be confident enough in your own skill and work that the thought of belting other work to make yours seem better doesn’t cross your mind. #querytip


3) It’s normal to follow agents on Twitter, just not in real life. An agent out in LA was actually assaulted by a disgruntled querier who tracked her down via the app FourSquare. One of many reasons I don’t post my location(s), after all, that would scalp from my fan mail and make me sad. #querytip


4) Don’t mention something an agent tweeted last year in your query. I suppose that’s all up to the agent, but for me, it suggests you’ve gone waaaaaay back on their timeline. It’s both unnecessary and out of date. #querytip


5) Research an agent before querying them. Sending an erotica to an agent who only reps children’s books will make you look silly, at best. #querytip


6) Don’t nudge us over a query for three months. We’re busy repping current clients. At any given point I’m critiquing/editing 1-2 manuscripts, which demands my full attention. If you were a client wouldn’t you want us to do the same for you? #querytip


7) Include all your contact information in your query. This means your home address, not a PO box. Now, this one caused a lot of discussion on Twitter, even among my co-workers. Most people said they used PO boxes, and didn’t get what I meant. To be honest, I realize this is probably my own bias. Having relatives in Hollywood and other sensitive businesses, many use PO boxes for the sole purpose of hiding their home address. I also understand authors wanting to use a PO when they reach a certain point of fame. My thinking — however bias it may be —was that if we are to enter into a business arrangement we should know your home address, otherwise it seems like you’re “hiding” it. I recognize that’s sort of a silly notion, but again, I only thought this due to my own experience. Also, as someone who reads through queries, I like to know I can just look you up. Sometimes to verify information, sometimes to look up something you’ve written/produced, simply out of curiosity. And let’s face it, there’s a lot of John Smith’s out there. (Note – not the name of an actual querier). Schools do it. Businesses do it. And that creepy lady down the street does it, but we’re not her. I swear. #querytip


8) There’s no need to put a Copyright symbol ( © ) anywhere in your manuscript or query. Your work is automatically copyrighted the moment you write it. Also, we have no interest in stealing your work. If we wanted your work, we’d offer your representation.


9) Along with #8, the same goes for Trademarks ( ™ ). Trademarking something is even more difficult than copyrighting, and some things can’t even be trademarked. Such as the word “the”. Also, you cannot Trademark something without going through the legal process of doing so, unlike copyrighting, which is an innate thing — though it can be made official for more security. #querytip


10) Don’t try to manipulate an agent into representing you, or at all. For example, don’t email an interested agent that another agent if offering rep but you’d rather give them the chance to make a “counter offer”. Besides the fact lying is wrong and it’s a sleazy move there’s a good chance it’ll backfire on you. Good relationships are built on trust, and believe me, you want a good relationship with your agent. Honesty is king. #querytip


That’s it for this week’s 10 query tips. Thanks for joining in, and remember to check back next week!