I'm getting ready to end the query hiatus in January 2014. In order to hit the ground running, I think it's time to freshen the FAQ's on my website.
Here's what it has now.
Please let me know if there's anything that should be added, deleted, or isn't clear. You can answer in the comment column of this blog post or you can email me.
I'm not above lifting good ideas from other agents' websites either so if you see on that's really good, let me know.
This page answers questions I hear most frequently from authors.
What are you looking for?
I'm particularly looking for narrative non-fiction; history; current events.
Other areas of particular interest in non-fiction are: justice and death penalty issues; African politics; contemporary art; contemporary music; and, how-to books.
I'm also actively looking for high-concept thrillers.
Just FYI, I do not consider books that deal with assassinating the US President as a major theme.
What have you sold?
Here are the most recent (forthcoming means the book has been sold but not published)
(updating list of books here)
+writers whose initial contact with me was by a query letter in the incoming mail.
Are you a member of AAR?
I'm also a member of Biographers International Organization; American Historical Association; American Library Association; the NYC chapter of Mystery Writers of America; International Thriller Writers; and, the Women's National Book Association.
What does a literary agent do?
I represent authors in the sale of their work to publishers.
That's a little like saying "a real estate agent sells houses". It's accurate, but it doesn't give a good picture of what really goes
on here and the value an agent can provide to you.
What value does an agent provide?
I keep up to date on all aspects of publishing, and the people in it so I can place an author's work with the right publisher,
and then coach them through the post-publication process. I handle the business side of things so you can focus on your work.
Post publication process? I thought agents just sold manuscripts.
It's not enough to write a good book these days, you have to be part of the marketing and promotional effort as well.
I work closely with my authors to make sure they are ready to hit the ground running when the book is published.
How do I get you to look at my work?
First, look at my list of categories. Does your work fit into one of them reasonably well? If yes, follow the submission guidelines
and send me a query letter. Please, follow the guidelines. It really helps me evaluate a project if I have all the information.
You're in a VERY competitive field. Give yourself a fighting chance by following the guidelines!
What are the guidelines?
Click the button at the top that says "Query Information"
What's a query letter?
A query letter is a sales pitch.
It should entice me to read on. It should make the reader eager to find out more.
It should also be businesslike.
There are several examples of query letters and suggested revisions at queryshark.blogspot.com
Can't I just email you my idea so you can tell me if I'm on the right track?
I emailed you a query and didn't hear back.
There is a post called Query Letter Diagnostics on my blog that might help you figure out what went wrong.
Can I email asking if you got it?
No. I don't keep track of query letters. If I have it, I will respond.
I have just a quick question about how to do something correctly in my query?
If you have a SHORT question about procedure or a technical problem (for example what font to use- NOT what kind of projects I want to see) you can email me. Put QUERY QUESTION in the subject line. I'll answer if I can;
if I can't I'll reply and tell you that the question is beyond the scope of the QQ project.
Do you charge reading fees?
No. Be careful of agents who offer to read stuff for money.
Make sure they actually SELL work, not just "read it".
Do you take new/unpublished writers?
Yes. And I sell their work too.
Do you consider simultaneous queries?
Can I send to more than one agent at a time?
Yes. Exclusives stink.
Can I send to more than one agent at FinePrint?
One at a time please. And of course, me first. If I pass on a project, it's quite all right to query other agents at FPLM.
I have a friend/child with a book...
...stop right here. Generally, I only want to hear from the author directly. If you are going to write the book, you send the query.
If someone else is going to write the book, s/he needs to be the one to query. Writing is hard work.
The actual author has to be committed first. No one can do it for them, no matter how great the idea.
What happens when you get my query letter?
I respond to queries very quickly. Usually the same day or within a day for email queries, a week to ten days for snail mail queries.
If I want to see a partial or a full, it usually takes at least 90 days to read and consider your work carefully.
You said no, and it’s a form letter that says “not right for me”. What does that mean?
It means no. There are a lot of reasons to say no. Don’t waste time or energy trying to parse out the hidden meanings.
I know you made a mistake saying no to this. If I write again, telling you that, will you read it again?
No. There are more than 600 agents in New York City; double that figure in the US. Query others before you re-query those who said no. Everyone is looking for different things. None of us is perfect, and none of us have a lock on what’s going to sell.
Why did you say no? I need help here!
These emails get deleted with no response. I don't offer critiques or feedback on queries. Don't assume there is something wrong with your work either. I say no to many good projects that aren't right for me, or I simply don't have time to take on. I do keep a blog about query letters and revisions at www.queryshark.blogspot.com
I'm also trying a new experiment called The Chum Bucket. Read the FAQ for Chum Bucket too.
I have more questions
For general questions about the publishing industry pick up a copy of Writers Market.
I also answer questions sometimes on my blog: jetreidliterary.blogspot.com
For questions about whether your work is right for me, send a query letter.