Looking for some querying tips and killer writing advice? Look no further! Bestselling agent turned book editor and coach Amy Tipton of Feral Girl Books shares her best tips below! Also, make sure you take advantage of her special pricing for readers of RektokRoss.com. For a limited time, use code “RektokRoss25” to take 25% off ALL editorial services. (More details below!)
AMY’S QUERY TIPS:
1. There are no second chances. (I mean, there are—IF you get an RR—it’s just not guaranteed.) Agents get so many queries that they’re always looking for reasons to say no (even as they’re also looking for that next big thing).
2. If agents are not convinced you can pitch your book, they’re not convinced you can write a whole book. I know—novels and queries are different animals! However, it’s expected of writers to pitch themselves (to agents, to publicists, to readers, to sales, etc). If your query doesn’t read well, agents will pass (remember agents are busy and looking to pass).
3. Telling agents you’ve self published before doesn’t actually mean anything. Anyone can self publish. Telling them you’ve self published before doesn’t rub them the wrong way, it just doesn’t impact their decision. (Of course, if you’ve self published with great success, that’s a different story.) A thousand copies isn’t a bestseller though, sorry.
4. On the other hand, author bios that reference books written (even traditionally pubbed) over 10-15-20 years ago are not of use to the book you’re querying now.
5. Also, author bios should include any affiliations that are relevant—like SCBWI, if you write kids books, or WFWA, if you write women’s fiction. If you don’t have much to say in your author bio it’s ok to say this is your debut novel. (It’s ok to be a debut!)
(I’d be remiss to not tell you: There might be a handful of people who can put together a bang-up query/proposal, but they are just a few. And, yes, your brother-in-law offered to read/critique for free, and your brother-in-law got his degree in writing AND from Harvard!—however, it was in 1976 … Uh … Know that the writer—maybe with the help of an editor, like myself—should be ensuring their pitch or proposal is ready.)
AMY’S CRAFT TIPS: LET’S TALK AGENTS
6. An agent-author relationship is not unlike a marriage. You should feel comfortable/secure with them. You should be able to rely on them & trust them. Communication is also key–you should be able to talk to them (which includes bitching or whining or venting–the bad as well as the good).
7. Choosing an agent should include research–people (in the business) should recognize the name of your agent.
8. You should ask: Will they rep YOU (like, for more than just 1 book) or are they a one and done agent (like, do you have to pitch them your 2nd and 3rd and 4th and and and…book)?–most these days are “career agents” so they aren’t one and done types but you should just make sure. Also, are they editorial/hands-on? How many editors do they pitch to before they consider a project dead?–if they consider the project dead, what do they advise? (Do they suggest writing another book or is your working relationship over?–again, most will say write another but still, ask to be sure.)
9. Look at the books they’ve sold/who they’ve sold to. Look at their agency as a whole (I mean, your agent might be good but do you want to be pubbed by an agency who also reps someone you dislike/morally oppose?). Read their interviews. See what conferences they’ve attended … Also, are they on Facebook or Twitter or Instagram or Tumblr or have a blog/website/?—“stalk” them (do you like what they say/post or pics they share?). This helps “prove” how legit they are.
10. Remember, good agents are there to hold your hand—if/when you need. They hold you up when you’re down, they celebrate you, they look for opportunities you might not, and they have your best interests at heart and they see/know/help your career grow. Overall, feel them out. Do you like them? Are they fun/funny/smart/kind/caring…?—don’t underestimate this…
(Also, realize: Referrals are not used nearly enough! Don’t underestimate the power of someone vouching for you! If you have a writer-friend represented by an agent you think might be right for you, ask them to refer you.)