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!
Welcome to the first Query Questions of 2015. I'm happy to have a few new questions to add to the mix! And starting us off is Kimberly Brower of the Rebecca Friedman Literary Agency!
Is there a better or worse time of year to query? No – it is all the same no matter the time of year.
Does one typo or misplaced comma shoot down the entire query? No, although multiple mistakes like that can be a turnoff.
Do you look at sample pages without fail or only if the query is strong? Only if the query is strong.
Do you have an assistant or intern go through your queries first or do you check all of them? No, I go through each one.
Do you keep a maybe pile of queries and go back to them for a second look? No, if the query piques my interest, I contact the author. If it doesn’t, then it doesn’t.
If the manuscript has a prologue, do you want it included with the sample pages? I have no preference.
How important are comp titles? Is it something you want to see in a query? They are helpful to include, but not necessary.
Some agencies mention querying only one agent at a time and some say query only one agent period. How often do you pass a query along to a fellow agent who might be more interested? Not too often. Each agent I work with have different tastes, so I recommend reading up on each agent and sending your query to the one who is looking for what you are writing.
Do you prefer a little personalized chit-chat in a query letter, or would you rather hear about the manuscript? I have no preference.
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? Nope.
Writers hear a lot about limiting the number of named characters in a query. Do you feel keeping named characters to a certain number makes for a clearer query? No – I want to read your first chapter so however many characters are in that, that’s fine.
Should writers sweat the title of their book (and character names) or is that something that is often changed by publishers? The title can change, but brainstorming a good title before you query is always a plus and can be attention-grabbing.
If a writer makes changes to their manuscript due to feedback should they resend the query or only if material was requested? Yes
What bio should an author with no publishing credits include? A bio about themselves. Who are they? Why are they writing?
What does ‘just not right mean for me’ mean to you? Either the book doesn’t not fit the type of books I represent or I just did not connect with the book or story.
Do you consider yourself a hands-on, editorial type of agent? Absolutely.
What are some of your favorite movies or books to give us an idea of your tastes? Romance – I’m a sucker for all things romance. From YA to college to adult contemporary – I love it all. Some non-romance books that I love are: Big Little Lies (women’s fiction), Unbroken (non-fiction), Gone Girl (thriller), The Mortal Instruments series (YA), The Historian (fiction)
Kimberly fell in love with reading when she picked up her first Babysitter’s Club book at the age of seven and hasn’t been able to get her nose out of a book since. Reading has always been her passion, even while pursuing her business degree at California State University, Northridge and law degree at Loyola Law School, Los Angeles. By joining the Rebecca Friedman Literary Agency in 2014, she has been able to merge her legal background with her love of books. Although she loves all things romance, she is also searching for books that are different and will surprise her, with empathetic characters and compelling stories. Kimberly is interested in both commercial and literary fiction, with an emphasis in women’s fiction, contemporary romance, mysteries/thrillers, new adult and young adult, as well as certain areas of non-fiction, including business, diet and fitness.