Several days ago, I received a query letter that stopped me cold. The author had a first novel she wanted me to represent. Rather than provide me information about the manuscript, she proceeded to tell me what publisher to whom I must sell the book and how she would not entertain ANY suggested revisions, other than the correction of the most superficial errors. She wasted a few more sentences telling me about her platform and how she enjoyed public speaking and then her email query stopped.
Nothing whatsoever about her book was included. I don’t know whether the book is women’s fiction or romance (which I do represent) or science fiction or literary fiction (which I do not). I don’t know whether it has a contemporary, historical, or futuristic setting nor do I know anything about the characters, plot of themes. In short, there was nothing there on which I could possibly base a decision to ask to see a partial. So I said, “no thanks.”
What a waste of her time and energy -- and mine! You might say, “why didn’t you ask to see the partial anyway? Or why didn’t you ask for more information in a second query?”
Both of those could have been possibilities, except that I had another 149 queries to answer that week, and, except for the fact that I have several shelves full of partials already waiting in my office to be read. Of course, I also represent already a number of very talented authors. Whatever “extra time” there is needs to be devoted to helping them step up their careers, talking to the editors, monitoring sales, brain-storming marketing ideas. That week, I actually had manuscripts from two of my authors on deadline who were waiting for my comments before delivering their final manuscripts to their editors. So, I really couldn’t give any more attention to this cryptic query.
Remember if you submit a query to me (or for that matter to any other agent), it is YOUR responsibility to make that agent fall in love with your project. You have that one chance to grab my attention, peak my curiosity, and convince me that my life won’t be complete if I don’t read your manuscript. Don’t waste your opportunity.