The ings before publishing part four: querying

So many people have written so well about querying agents that instead of saying “Have a wheel, I just invented it,” (h/t Nisi Shawl) I’m gonna make this one a linky post of linkness.

Holly Lisle‘s How to query an agent is straightforward and clear. She reminds the querent to always keep in mind that You are asking a favor of a stranger. (I know the word querent is most often used to describe someone asking a question of an oracle, but it’s shorter than “querying writer,” and besides, publishing’s a shadowy and mysterious realm, right?)

Lynn Flewelling writes the informative and modestly-titled Complete Nobody’s Guide to Writing Query Letters, using her own successful query letter as a model. I especially like this insight: “…there is no secret trick to getting published. You can, however, think of the process as a game. Games have steps, rules, and strategy. The better you become at these, the better you can use them to your advantage.”

Miss Snark‘s blog is now defunct, but for quite some time she answered a wide variety of questions about agents and publishing, including one of mine. (I won’t tell you which.) Comb her archives. Much worthwhile information therein.

The inimitable Jennifer Laughran doesn’t always write about querying, but she’s worth reading whatever she’s talking about. Recently she answered the question Do you even NEED an agent?

And if you happen to be meeting an agent in person, Mette Ivie Harrison‘s “How to Approach an Agent or Editor” has some excellent suggestions of conversational gambits.

I would be remiss in ending this post without another seemingly-obvious-but-frequently-ignored reminder: read the agency’s submission guidelines and follow them. I’ve heard multiple agents say that not following the guidelines is the fastest way to get your query deleted unread.

Other posts in this series, in case you missed them: finishing, researching, convening.