Thursday, October 3, 2013

Query Questions with Eric Ruben

Eric is no longer an agent

Writers have copious amounts of imagination. It's what makes their stories so fantastic. But there's a darker side to so much out of the box thinking. When a writer is in the query trenches, their worries go into overdrive. They start pulling out their hair and imagine every possible disaster.


Here to relieve some of that endless worrying is a new series of posts called Query Questions. I'll ask the questions which prey on every writer's mind, and hopefully take some of the pain out of querying. These are questions that I've seen tossed around on twitter and writing sites like Agent Query Connect. They are the type of questions that you need answers for the real expert--agents!

If you have your own specific query question, please leave it in the comments and it might show up in future editions of Query Questions as I plan to rotate the questions.

Nikola Vukoja requested to see an interview from today's agent. Welcome Eric Ruben of the Ruben Agency! If you've followed Mr. Ruben's #askagent or #tenqueries on twitter, you know to expect quick and honest answers to any questions put to him. 

Is there a better or worse time of year to query?

Not for me. If it's a bad time for me I just announce I'm closed until it's a better time.

Does one typo or misplaced comma shoot down the entire query?

No. I sell books, not queries. For me, it's more about voice than technicalities.

Do you look at sample pages without fail or only if the query is strong?

I always look at the sample pages. I can't promise I get through all of them. If it's clear the book's not for me, I may bail early.

Do you have an assistant or intern go through your queries first or do you check all of them?

No. I'm the whole office. At least for now.

If the manuscript has a prologue, do you want it included with the sample pages?

I have a prejudice against prologues. I'll leave it at that.

Do you prefer a little personalized chit-chat in a query letter, or would you rather hear about the manuscript?

Keep it simple. If I like your work, we'll talk and get to know each other then.

Most agents have said they don’t care whether the word count/genre sentence comes first or last. But is it a red flag if one component is not included?

I don't know about flags, but I want that information. Please don't make me ask for it.

Is there a bias against querying authors who have self-published other books?

Not for me. But if you're trying to get me to rep a series you already started via self-pub, that won't happen unless you're a big seller.

Some writers have asked about including links to their blogs or manuscript-related artwork. I’m sure it’s not appropriate to add those links in a query, but are links in an email signature offensive?

Anything that gives me more info about the author is welcome.

What’s the strangest/funniest thing you’ve seen in a query?

I won't say because I'm not mean. But I did recently get a query with track changes in it.

What are some of your favorite movies or books to give us an idea of your tastes?

Books: A Christmas Carol, Siddhartha, The Bird Artist.
Movies: Casablanca, Jerry Macguire, The Shawshank Redemption


A graduate of New York’s Cardozo School of Law and a veteran entertainment professional, I have over twenty-five years experience as an attorney, literary agent, talent manager, and professional performer. My unique perspective is valuable to performers, writers, artists, and others. Working in partnership with a diverse clientele, we determine how best to move their careers forward and achieve their personal, professional and artistic goals.

I am currently most interested in YA, all Romance (except inspirational), Erotica, LGBT, Mystery and more. I am NOT accepting screenplays, picture books, children’s books, cook books, literary fiction, non-celebrity memoir, short stories, novellas, graphic novels or poetry.

1 comment:

  1. Hi Michelle & Eric,
    thanks to both of you for doing this interview. I have no doubt many people will benefit from it. And although my writing 'style' is not for Eric, having followed him for some time, I know anyone lucky enough to have him represent them will have a very compassionate and hard-working partner.