Topic: Notes from Chuck Sambuchino
Notes from Writer’s Digest Query letter Bootcamp.
Agent One-on-One: How to Craft Query Letters & Other Submission Materials That Get Noticed Boot Camp
For more information go to www.writersonlineworkshops.com/
Writer’s Digest speaker Chuck Sambuchino, editor
Guide to Literary Agents
Children’s Writers and Illustrators Market
Some notes from his workshop:
• If you are looking for an agent, use a market guide – either online or in book form – accredited agents will have the initials AAR by their name. Association of Authors Representatives. Never deal with someone who asks for money up front (unless you are hiring an editor or book doctor)
• What to look for when searching: Where do they come from, were they apprenticing or working for an agency before becoming an agent – What have they sold – How long in business and education – you can also google this agent and look on discussion boards to see honest reviews of the agent.
• Always check the website – Twitter – LinkedIn – etc.
Before submitting (this is a no brainer)
• Make sure your work is spotless. Use critique group, beta readers, even hire an editor or proofreader or book doctor if you can afford it or think you need it.
• Look online for examples of winning letters, carefully follow each agent’s specific submission guidelines.
• Resources: Guide to Literary Agents, Market Guide, Children’s Writers and Illustrators Market Guide, Query Tracker, AgentQuery.com, WritersMarket.com (this one’s expencive)
What does the query letter look like:
• One page, single spaced, under 300 words. Use word economy – don’t fluff it up – keep it brief
• Three paragraphs (four only if your summary requires a second paragraph, but use caution)
• Paragraph one – Intro: Title, genre, word count, completed, type of story, why you chose this agent (do your homework, research this agent – conference, workshop, referral from one of his/her clients, cite the agent’s previous work) Compare to one or two other works only if you know your work to be similar – keep it brief – Never use the powerhouse A-list authors like Nicholas Sparks or Hunger Games, Twilight, Harry Potter, etc. This paragraph can be two sentences long, keep it short.
• Paragraph two: book summary. Main character, inciting incident, maybe an antagonist or supporting character, don’t clutter the page with minor characters. Be specific – don’t say ‘life was hard’ say ‘Maggie faced wild dogs, harsh weather, and starvation….’. Never give away the ending. This section is the longest, but keep it short. Get to the meat and soul of your book. Research log-lines. No not start out with fluffy eye catchers – it’s amateur. Use caution with starting with a question. Good to end with a question ‘can MC….?’
• Paragraph three: Bio. Keep it brief, don’t crow about your accomplishments but list important and relevant work. ‘I’ve contributed to X,Y, and Z magazines, published X, Y, Z books’. Mention organizations like SCBWI (no other details) Mention relevant awards. Don’t clutter the paragraph with where you live and all the schools you attended. Only mention your blog if you have 10,000 followers or so. Do mention that you have an online presence, or platform. (the agent will look you up)
• Thank the agent for his/her time. Hope to hear from you soon (or something like that)
• Regards or Sincerely,
• Your name, website, Twitter, email, phone number if you hope to talk in person. The agent will call you if really excited about your work.