Operation Virtual Agent #3

WOW. Scott has asked a very difficult question. I’m not sure this situation will apply to many of you, but it’s a very intriguing question and makes you think a bit about query rule-breaking.

Thanks for your question, Scott!


Operation Query Tip #1

You know how much I love my Operations. It makes me feel like a doctor. Which is what I considered doing for about a month in undergrad. Then realized cutting people open wasn’t quite my bag.

Moving on. I get a lot of wonderful queries. I get a few really awful queries. And sometimes I get queries that just make a few little mistakes. My query scenario is much like Goldilocks’ dilemma.

So I introduce to you: Operation Query Tip. When I find something in a query that I think will adversely affect a writer’s chances of getting past an agent’s query slush pile–I will post–and hopefully help out a bit in this incredibly hard industry.

Today’s hot tip is as follows:

Small font! GASP! Eeeeek! Seriously. Bad bad news. Agents are staring at a computer screen for about 10-12 hours a day, reading manuscripts, queries, answering emails, working on proposals, writing to their clients, cough tweeting cough, etc.

Whenever I get a query with tiny font, part of me thinks, “Oh my gosh, is it worth it to have to squint and get all close to my computer screen to read this sucker?” And of course I always do. But I’ll be frank: it sucks.


Right? No Bueno! So use a normal sized font. Test it out on a friend’s computer if you aren’t sure how it will translate. I swear it’s worth it. I know it wouldn’t seem like a small font could make or break you, but you never know. After reading 47 queries in a row, a small fonted query might just break the camel’s back.

How Renae Won Me Over

[tweetmeme source=”breeogden” only_single=false]

The Quintessentially Questionable Query Experiment has done a bonkers fantastic interview/guest blogging with my client Renae Mercado. Renae takes you step by step through her query letter and gives awesome tips on how to intrigue an agent and make them ask for more.

And clearly it worked for me. So the girl knows what she is talking about!

Some query letter tips

[tweetmeme source=”breeogden” only_single=false]Recently, I’ve had requests to give examples of BAD query letters. But you’ll forgive me if I just don’t feel comfortable critiquing some poor unsuspecting writer’s query and posting it live. (Maybe someday) However, Martin Literary Management (mainly Sharlene because nonfiction lends itself to WAY crazier queries) will soon be featuring a “Crazy Query” section (anonymous, of course) on our site, so keep checking back for that. Other’s missteps are your golden ticket.

In the meantime, you can read the Writer’s Digest article that Sharlene wrote featuring crazy queries (posted below), or you can buy her book, co-authored by Anthony Flacco, entitled Publish Your Nonfiction Book, which tells you exactly what to do and what not to do in a query letter.

But as for me, I can tell you I don’t appreciate being called “sir” or just plain “literary agent.” Another mistake often made in queries I receive is that the description of the manuscript is far too vague. Agents don’t have the extra time to write you and ask you to tell them more about your book because you only gave them a few sentences and then asked “Are you interested?”

This, however, is no invitation to write out every detail of your manuscript. It is definitely a fine line which means you should revise and revise your query letter like you do your manuscript. In your query letter, you’ll want to get down to brass tacks and give the crucial elements of the book but also leave a little intrigue.

Anyway, enough of me…check out this article by Sharlene. It’s awesome.

Remember, I’m always available to answer questions. Click on the book widget in the top right hand corner–>