10 Query Tips from a Literary Assistant — 11/23/13

I’m an assistant agent 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) Don’t quote other agents’ comments in your query. It’s unprofessional and adds nothing to your credit. Point blank. #querytip


2)  People writing about YA (young adult) should talk to some actual teens about what’s going on in their lives. This comes from Melissa Ann Singer (@maseditor), a Senior Editor at Tor/Forge Books. Good advice from a senior auditor. #querytip #writetip  


3) Like your story, your query should start late and exit early. Don’t spend paragraphs explaining unnecessary background. Show us what you’re going to show us, NOW. #querytip


4) Research! If you’ve never been exposed to Haitian culture don’t write from that POV. Meet, interview, LIVE what u write. While I was writing The Freedman and the Pharaoh’s Staff I was fortunate enough to meet with several friends’s mothers/grandmothers straight from Haiti. Great fun! #querytip


5) Keep fancy fonts out of your query and manuscript. They’re distracting and pointless. Another self-explanatory tip. #querytip


6) Query one manuscript at a time. An agent doesn’t want to sift through your five manuscripts to find the best one. Neither do I. #querytip


7) The most powerful sense is smell. It can drag up memories we forgot we had. Use that in your writing and your title. Science backs this up, plain and simple. #querytip #writetip


8) Challenge yourself by writing about what you don’t know. But only when you know it. Again, the key word here is “research”. #querytip #writetip


‘9) Focus on one protagonist in your query. All other characters should be described in relation to him/her. I’m easily confused, so please don’t do it. #querytip


10) Finally, and on a personal note, I live-tweet on Thursday nights, because my two favorite shows are on. You’ve been warned. If you follow me on twitter for these very query tips, be prepared for an occasional onslaught of nonsense. #querytip


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