Prepublishing, Traditional

Finding Agents and Publishers

While I’m mainly indie/self published oriented, I do have pieces that are traditionally published, and I work with dozens of publishers as their typesetter/interior formatter.

Are you sure you’re ready for querying agents and publishers? bit.ly/WwDOrders.

Step 1—Materials

Before you begin to query agents/publishers (A/Ps) you need to have somethings written and edited.

Query Letter/Cover Letter, Synopsis, Log line/Elevator Pitch.

A synopsis is a chapter by chapter walk through of your plot and includes spoilers. This is how A/Ps decide that your plotting/story/character growth is well managed and makes sense.

Personally, I find doing 1 or 2 sentences per chapter and then weaving them together into a synopsis is easier, but here are some useful sites that walk you through various ways.

Log line/Elevator pitch is a very short paragraph of “this is my story.” Log lines are like Twitter pitches, and you’ll see below why something that short is important.

Query/Cover Letter is what you email to potential A/Ps. There is a difference between the two—cover letters are generally short story oriented while query letters are novel oriented—but most publishers/agents use them interchangeably.

  • Should NOT exceed 1 page.
  • Make it personal but not intimate. Find the A/Ps name and address the letter to them.
  • Explain why your story is a good fit for the A/Ps. Did you see their tweet? Did you meet them at a conference and they liked the pitch you gave/what did they say about it?
  • If the story is about a teenage witch learning to grow a garden with her powers, and the writer is a member of the local chapter of XYZ plants or the Lily Club, that is relevant. If the same book is written by someone who has never gardened, don’t include anything. It doesn’t matter if you’re the leader of the Red Hat society, a Master’s degree in Bank Managing, etc. If it doesn’t strengthen your story/plot/characters don’t include it.
  • Keep paragraphs short, and put a space between the paragraphs to break up the wall of text. You’re showing that you can highlight relevant information, stay on topic, write, and follow directions.

Step 2—Genre

This could have gone under Step 1, but many writers think their story is one thing, but when explaining it, they highlight another genre/subgenre entirely.

Make sure you know your main genres and your subgenres and how your book fit those. What scenes/character ARCs/plot devices/etc. give credit to that. It makes part 3 easier.

Step 3—A/P Hunting

The three I recommend are MSWL, PitMad, and QueryTracker.

PitMad is a Twitter event where writers use hashtags and tweets, and A/Ps respond with a heart. You then follow the A/Ps submission guidelines—most of them have them pinned to the top of their Twitter. https://pitchwars.org/pitmad/

MSWL funnels tweets. You can see them on the website or follow the hashtag on Twitter. https://mswishlist.com/ and https://www.manuscriptwishlist.com/

QueryTracker is a website with a ton of statistics and information on A/Ps. https://querytracker.net/

Step 4—Validate

Before you submit ANYTHING, check their name/publishing house against Writer Beware’s website and social media. Writer Beware is ran by the SFWA (Sci-Fi and Fantasy Writer Association). https://www.sfwa.org/other-resources/for-authors/writer-beware/

If you don’t see anything that way, Google the A/Ps name with phrases such as vanity, issues, disputes, reviews, etc.

Here are other blog posts on the types of publishers and things to watch out for:

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