Querying and Agents: A Little Bit of Guidance

Things that make me sad: When I respond to a piece of fanmail, especially those from aspiring writers, only for the email to bounce back!

That happened this morning, so in the hopes that said fan might read this blog, I’m posting my response here – and hope it will help any aspiring writers out there who are about to start looking into the publishing process.


Important Note: There is SO MUCH MORE to be said about the process of getting published, getting an agent, writing query letters, etc. There are entire books written on this subject, and I do recommend that anyone wanting to take their writing to the next level read at least one book on publishing and/or getting an agent. My advice, below, is really meant to be a jumping-off point for further research and is by no means all-encompassing!


The Question:

“I am a young author and have written a book. I was wondering how to get a book published. I am hoping that you could give me some advice for someone who wants to get started.”


My response:

First, congrats on finishing your novel!

In my opinion, the first step to take after finishing your novel, but before submitting it for publication, is to find some trusted readers who will read your book and give you great advice. I work with three critique partners and they always point out weaknesses that I couldn’t see myself. You really want to give your book the best chance of standing out from the crowd.

After that, if you want to be traditionally published, your next step will most likely be to query agents.

I suggest checking out www.agentyquery.com – there are some great articles there on what an agent is and why you want one. You can also use their search form to start building a list of agents you want to contact about your work.

Then you’ll write a query letter, and for that, the best resource I’ve found is the Query Shark blog. The Query Shark is a real book agent who critiques query letters, and after you read through some of the archives you can start to get a feel for what works and what doesn’t. Writing a great query letter is the best way to catch an agent’s interest and hopefully get them to take a look at your novel.

Then you start sending it out!

And then you start working on the next book. It’s always smart to have something else you’re working on to take your mind off the waiting. 🙂 And if the current book doesn’t catch an agent’s interest – maybe the next one will!

Good luck!