Here’s a facebook status I saw a minute ago and wanted to post something about it. I see these things all the time and they frustrate me up the wall.
No matter how close attention I pay to all the different agency submission guidelines, I inevitably botch one of them.
I get frustrated because I have a very good, longtime friend, who has been a successful literary agent for well over thirty years, and when I tell him the things I see and hear authors talking about, and how they stress out over writing queries, he’s absolutely stunned. I also get frustrated because so many won’t believe me and they’ll believe other things they read on the web and continue to stress out even more.
I know there are blogs and web sites that focus on writing query letters until the freaking cows come home. I don’t know why they do this to the point of overkill, but they do. Sometimes I think it’s just part of their shtick, other times I think they do it to gain web presence and followers.
But all I can say is that most literary agents care about one thing: what the book is about. Again, it’s all about the book you’re trying to sell. At least that’s what I hear from my best friend, and he’s been around for a long time. He doesn’t have much of a web presence, he doesn’t go to conferences and give query seminars, and he doesn’t care how you spell his name. Other than his agency web site, where he posts a few very short paragraphs about submission guidelines, he basically asks authors to keep it short and to the point and to tell him what their books are about.
If you get the short description of the book right, you can’t “botch” the query up. And if you query an agent who is more worried about what font you used instead of the good, concise book description you wrote, you might want to re-think whether or not you want to work with a person like that in the first place.