I sent the question about some agents wanting a two paragragh "intriguing" query and some wanting a full on synopsis, and what to do when you don't know what they want. I've encountered many submission guidelines like Wendy Sherman's unfortunately, I didn't write them down and can't remember who the heck they were.
Here are the guidelines from Wendy Sherman Associates.
- Write a gripping query letter
- Tell us why your project would be a good fit for our agency
- Tell us why this book has an audience, and why you’re the one to write it (particularly for non-fiction)
- Include information about your credentials to write this book, publications and prizes, awards, and conferences
- Compare your book to other titles that are similar
- Tell us which well-known writer’s work yours resembles
- Limit your query to one page
- Include a double-spaced table of contents and overview (non-fiction)
- Include a double spaced 1st chapter (fiction)
- Provide us with your email, phone number, and address
- Tell us what happens in your book. It’s not a book jacket or a movie trailer–don’t tease us, we need to know!
- Read the books on how to find an agent – there are several. There is much valuable information that will help you throughout this process
Only when I actually read these guidelines did I understand how query guidelines can be disconcerting for the sophisticated querier.
The sophisticated querier is someone who has spent a lot of time and care researching guidelines, publishing terms, looking for what an agent wants.
The vast amounts of information now available to queriers means that more of you are sophisticated, and savvy about the process than ever before.
Look at that list again. There are 12 bullet points. Tally up how many of them you already knew. My guess is between 10 and 12, right?
Here's where the trouble starts. "Tell us what happens in your book" means something different to you than it does to the casual querier. I have only to look at my incoming queries to understand that "tell me what your book is about" is NOT a given.
However, if you've spent any time at all in the query trenches, you KNOW to write two enticing paragraphs. When someone says "it's not a book jacket or a movie trailer" you think...oh! I should be writing something that isn't the standard two paragraph enticement.
In fact, this bullet point is asking for EXACTLY what I've been hammering you on over at Query Shark. It's asking for the main character, the choices s/he faces and what's at stake.
If you're reading various agency guidelines, and all the bullet points seem pretty obvious to you, don't over think the one that isn't. It's probably exactly what you thought it was the first time you saw it. Don't over think. Don't over analyze.