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How to Write a Query That Will Make an Agent Weep

Let's get serious for a second here. Agents read a lot of queries. Like, a ton. After awhile, they've got to start looking the same. How can you, a Future Famous Writer, make sure your masterpiece stands out in the slushpile?

When it's time to start querying - you know, about halfway through your first draft - keep these rules in mind.

1. Be memorable. Email query? Use bright colors and crazy fonts to really stick out. Snail mailin' it? Might as well mail everything you've got, printed and bound (they have great deals at Kinko's). Include tons of illustrations, and hey - a little butt-kissing never hurts. Send 'em a gift.

2. Save yourself time and write one killer query, then mass query (if you're emailing) or print off tons of copies (for regular mail). Their individual names will be on the envelope - doesn't need to be in the letter too.

3. Be funny. Try really, really hard to be funny.

4. Come up with a catchy hook for the story - rhetorical questions work like a charm.

5. Tell them why your MC is the shiz.

6. Make sure they know you totally understand the market and potential audience, and that you don't really need them, but you're just throwing them a bone 'cause this book is gonna make some CASH.

7. Let them know about any and all writing experience. Any. And. All.

8. Give them lots of personal info about yourself. You are going to be working together, after all. They'll appreciate that you shared.

9. Don't worry about what they "represent". They don't know it yet, but they'll be falling all over your manuscript no matter what genres they prefer.

10. Above all, be confident. They want your business. They NEED it.

Easy enough? Okay, let's put this into practice. Here we go:

Dear Every Agent on Publisher's Marketplace,

Wut uppp? :)~ My dystopian historical fiction novel, entitled KISS MY ICE, is ready for review with an anticipated 250,000 words.

What would you do for a Klondike bar?

Marry S. Dove is a snarky, tough, fashion-loving Eskimo who decides to leave life at the igloo behind and head to NYC. Her traumatic first day at her magazine internship is made worse when she meets Jeffrey Lion, her jerk of a boss- who also happens to be HAWT.

Marry and Jeffrey fight a lot and almost have sex three times. The wacky gang at the office thinks it's a big mistake and plot to get Marry fired. But when a giant Sasquatch invades the city, Marry might be they're only hope.

Or is she?

KISS MY ICE is the first book in a planned twelve book series. It's absolutely nothing like Twilight or Harry Potter, and it will defanetily make more money then both combined. It's kind of like Captain Underpants meets Silence of the Lambs.

I was a serious writer in first grade and in second grade I won third prize in a poetry contest, which was a big deal coz the judge was Ms. McNutt and she was a bee-yotch.... LOL Then I stopped writing for about twenty years but now I'm ready to try being a professional author again. I have a degree in advanced aeronautics and five cats and three fish and a weird rash on the back side of my knee that my dermatologist prescribed hemorrhoid cream for and at first I was all WTF?!? but then it totally worked. :D

I know your website says you only rep crime mysteries and thrillers, but I know once you read the first chapter you'll be hooked! LOL I'm sending you the first 232 pages, and I'll be sure to email you the rest when it's finished. Be sure to check the box- as a special gift I'm including a box of Klondike bars!

I don't know what a "SASSY" is, so hit me up on Twitter when you want to talk deal! @I_B_Ballin


Nevah G. B. Pubbed

Not bad, huh? In fact....I think this book needs to be written. If any agents are reading this, due to the economy I can't afford to write unless I'm getting some green. But once I get that six figure advance check I'd love to throw this together for you!**

Now you've got all the tools you need to write a sweet query. What, you haven't finished writing the book? Haven't I taught you ANYTHING? Query away!

**Sweet merciful crap, I'm joking. Please, please know I'm joking.
Michelle Schusterman

Michelle writes books for kids, screenplays for a tv/film production company, and music for anyone who'd buy a "groove matters" bumper sticker. She lives in New York City with her husband (and band mate) and their chocolate lab (who is more of a vocalist). She is the author of middle grade series I Heart Band - 2014, and The Kat Sinclair Files - 2015 (both from Grosset).

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  1. Yup. That's exactly how you query people. Hemorrhoids and all!

    Look! Even Query Shark agrees:

  2. OMG if I were an agent I would TOTALLY sign that book! Obviously you have talent, I mean look at the use of color and font!! LOL

  3. This comment has been removed by the author.

  4. Oh and if I were an agent, I would definitely eat the Klondike bar haha.

  5. This is my new fav blog! You guys are hysterical! I almost spat water on my laptop.

    Thanks, I needed a laugh.

  6. Too funny! I want a Klondike bar!

  7. Mmmm, Klondike Bar soup. So good. Agents totally would sign a writer for a Klondike Bar. Right?

  8. Michelle. . . My ribs hurt from laughing right now. Amazeballs (just for you lady!)
    How could an agent resist that?!

  9. "I have a degree in advanced aeronautics" - holy crap! Really?

    :) Very entertaining.

  10. :D

    Glad you all liked it!! I'm excited about Wednesday's installment...

  11. Haha, I love it! If I got this query, I might just hang it on my wall :)

    I've actually gotten to see a lot of gifts being sent to agents. A few months ago an agent in the office got a huge beautiful bouquet of flowers. We all thought they were from her husband. Nope, from a writer - the card said "The query is in the mail."

    The same agent also got a huge fruit basket once. However, it was right before a holiday when everyone was out of the office and most of the fruit had gone bad by the time she got it.

  12. Hilarious.

    The one that always get me is fiction novel.

    And remember to include your headshot, too.

    Fun blog.

  13. ROFL. You almost had me. Then I was all "Oh, no. No,no,no, NO." Too funny. I read Kristen's post before I read this one and was giggling like crazy here at work. I actually like the title. Someone needs to write that book.

  14. Thanks guys!!!

    Suzie- you're asking for it now, ma'am! The soggy vanilla mess of a package in your mail will be from me. :D

    And rotting

  15. I had no idea you were insane, but I like you even more now! Rock and Rooooooooooooooll!

  16. Okay. I go on vacation for ONE WEEK every year and I have to miss the most hilarious posts ever on YA HIGHWAY? What the freak?! Thanks, Suzie, for making sure I read these ones! you have rep? That query totally sold me.


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Item Reviewed: How to Write a Query That Will Make an Agent Weep Rating: 5 Reviewed By: Michelle Schusterman