Today's tip is for when you're ready to query your manuscript, also known as "when you'll likely start raking in the rejections." Most authors hear "no" many, many times before they finally hear "yes!" In fact, our very own Kate Foster posted a little bit about her story of how she signed with her agent last week here.
But even though all authors will receive rejections--my personal favorites are the stories of agents writing back years later to reject a book that's just gone on sale--there are things you can do to limit your number of rejections somewhat.
The first step is thorough editing, of course. A clean manuscript is more appealing than one that's riddled with errors.
But the second step, where a lot of authors stumble, is doing their homework. Agents are inundated with queries. Most of them post guidelines about what they represent and what sort of stories they're currently looking for. Research anyone you're interested in, and respect those preferences. Agents might enjoy reading stories outside their wishlists, but they know what they can realistically sell.
If an agent lists triggers that they personally have and do not want to see in manuscripts, respect that. Don't traumatize someone; you won't get an agent or make any friends that way.
Respect agency guidelines. Always send materials in the proper format, whether it's in an email or as an attachment; ten pages, or twenty, or fifty. If an agent I queried asked for my submission via snail mail, in purple Comic Sans font, I'd give it to them. Yes, it can be inconvenient having to format things differently for each agent. But they ask for formats that suit their reading devices and preferences. And showing that you can follow a simple request is the beginning of a good business relationship.
Lastly, and most importantly, always be respectful. Queries can be lighthearted, but not rude. If you receive a rejection, move on. If an intern is helping an agent read subs, be grateful, because it means that agent got to your query quicker. Bad behavior gets talked about, and you don't want to earn yourself a reputation as someone no one wants to work with.
Every Wednesday and Saturday we bring you an edit tip of the day. Be sure to check out the archives for our popular summer series of SHOW DON'T TELL workshops!