Tuesday, May 22, 2012

How to read queries, a step by step guide

The other day an author asked me what she was "doing wrong" in her query. I didn't really have an answer. There are, obviously some BIG no-no's when querying, but I feel like those have been covered by other blogs.  Aside from those, what is "wrong" for me might work for another agent.

So, for what it is worth, here is my process for reviewing queries. 

Step 1. Realize that query folder is overflowing. Berate self for being lazy and/or having a life. 

Step 2. Decide to wade into the fray of battle to make unread email number lower. Screw courage to sticking place. 

Step 3. Open email, hoping for something clearly awesome that I can sell for millions of dollars. Or, failing that, an obvious reject since I simply must defeat the inbox. 

Step 4. Read email, possibly several times depending on potential of project. See below. 

LEVEL 1: Quick reading of query to see if it hits any of my "automatic rejection" buttons. EXAMPLES: It's a screenplay; it's a book genre I do not handle, novel is 600,000 words long, the author cannot write in English, author is potentially crazy and/or lists heinous crimes committed. (NOTE: I feel like anyone reading this could beat this level.)  

LEVEL 2: Book is in my wheelhouse, now examine premise. Is this something I would read? Possible reasons for rejection at this level: Don't like concept, I have read this book before, sounds boring, etc. 

LEVEL 3: Ooh, shiny! Is something I would read, but do I think I can sell it? Possible reasons for rejection at this level: I have something similar and haven't been able to sell it, editors don't want this, don't know publisher in that area, etc. 

LEVEL 4: I must read more!  Author has beaten levels. Excitement and rejoicing.

Step 5. Repeat these steps until my eyes start to cross and words look fuzzy. Admit defeat. Wring hands like maniacal super villain and announce that "I will get you next time, slush pile."

Saturday, May 12, 2012


I had a good day today at the CT Fiction Fest. Conferences still make me a bit nervous. I am afraid of being a huge disappointment to people who want to meet me. Then writers are nervous about their pitch. So everyone is uncomfortable.But today was, as I said, good. Phew! I think I got some good pitches. We'll see.

I need to get out to different conferences. I seem to attend the same ones! And see the same people! So if you are reading this and involved in a planning a conference, please shoot me an email and I'll see if I can't fit it in!

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Murder Complex

L. Perkins Agency client Lindsay Cummings talks with Girls in the Stacks about finding an agent (my lovely coworker Louise Fury), and getting a book deal. I like this podcast because it's like listening in on a group of friends chatting.

And of course we love Lindsay.