Queries Take You to Strange Places

One of the drudgeries of being an author without an agent is writing queries. That is, of course, you want to find an agent to help get one of your manuscripts with a “big” publisher who has clout or owns one of the major distribution companies. This leads to books appearing in more places which theoretically equals more sales.

Agents have contacts with reviewers and other sources of publicity that leads to more recognition and more sales. At least that’s the theory.

With the last book in the Josh Haman series – The Simushir Island Incident – under contract to come out late this year, I have more books I’d like to bring to market, four of which are in a series based on a new character by the name of Derek Almer. The first – Flight of the Pawnee – is ready to go to a publisher. Hence the need for query.

Queries are the way an author asks an agent if he or she is interested in representing his or her work to a publisher. Each agent has his or her own requirements an author should provide in the query.

Almost all say they will respond if they are interested. A very small percentage say they will respond to every query.  It’s a tedious process to pore over the agent’s interests to figure what will catch their attention. Gimmicks are not well received.

What is taken seriously is a well-written document based on their desires and a specified number of pages from the manuscript. Agent query preferences require the same information but the emphasis is always different.

One of three things can happen. One, the query goes into a black hole that means the query didn’t appeal to the targeted agent. Why doesn’t matter and your query is in the trash.

Two, the agent replies with an email that says thanks, but no thanks.

Three, you get a response that says they’re interested.

Last week, I got a response that I didn’t expect. In the requirements for the query, the agent asked what other books I was working on as well as what had been published. I listed four in the latter category, one of which is called Gold And Silver Wings. It is a series of vignettes from three generations of military aviators – my father, me and my son.

This led to a call with the agent who is very interested in this book and asked me its status. Then she said, I’d like a book proposal and if I think I can sell it, I’ll send a representation agreement. And, oh by the way, send Flight of the Pawnee.

Net net, as they say in the biz world, I have a book proposal to write as well as a two sample chapters. The agent sent me a proposal she used successfully as a template. Now I have two projects, one is the proposal and the other is the book. I’d better get busy and for an author, this is really exciting!!!

Marc Liebman

May 2018

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