Tips for Pitching and Querying Agents
Whether you pitch an agent in person or with a written query, your goal is the same: to get us to request your manuscript. But first, relax and take a deep breath. Agents and editors are just normal people who love stories, so you have something in common with us right from the start. You are the world’s foremost expert on your own work. Tell us about it and have fun!
When you pitch in person or query, make sure to answer these question about your manuscript:
WHAT is the genre of your story and which audience is it written for?
- Twilight is a paranormal romance for the YA market.
WHO is your character?
- Edward Cullen is your typical teen vampire. Good looks, fast car, no pulse.
WHAT is the strange thing going on in his or her life that throws everything off-kilter and launches the story?
- Then he meets Bella Swan
WHAT (or who) do they want most in the world?
- For the first time, Edwards wants a human being more than anything. And he wants her alive.
WHO (or what) is in the way of them getting what they want (their obstacle)?
- Edward’s bloodlust could drive him to either kill her or turn her into a monster like himself.
WHAT is at stake (no vampire pun intended) if the character doesn’t get what they want?
- If Edward doesn’t get Bella or, worse, if he turns her, he’ll be forever alone. Literally.
Answer these question about your own manuscript. Read the backs of published books and the jacket flap copy. This is roughly the length and tone you’re going for with a verbal pitch or the meat of your written query letter. Remember, you’re giving the agent a taste of your story…and you want them to ask for more. The most well-crafted queries, in my opinion, are ones that make me care about the story and characters. They make me feel something. They make mem want to know what happens next.
An agent will often ask you a question about your project. Be listening (instead of obsessing about how the conversation is going) and be ready with an answer. Remember, you’re the expert and you’re talking with us, not at us.
Agents want to hear from writers. We want good projects. We simply can’t do our jobs without them. So present the juiciest, most compelling points of your story, mention the important details outlined above, and, finally, have fun and be yourself.
Best of luck with your writing and I look forward to hearing about your work!
Mary Kole is an agent at the Andrea Brown Literary Agency. You can learn more about her and her agency at: The Andrea Brown Website. Mary also keeps up an award-winning blog about children’s literature, writing, and publishing called: www.kidlit.com. Mary is also a big fan of the iPad, but you’ll have to ask her about that.