Yep, as of 8/30 I'm in full agent query mode. Every agent likes to see something different when you query (solicit) them, but all of them want at least a query letter (duh!). But 3 parts can make up a query package:
1. Query letter: one page with a "book-cover" blurb of novel with a hook; title, word count & genre of book; short bio with my writing credits.
2. Synopsis: a synpsis of the entire book reduced anywhere from 1 page to 7 pages. The norm seems to be in the 3-5 page range.
3. A partial of the manuscript: could be anywhere from the first 3 pages to the first 100 pages.
In this day and age of email submissions and a green planet, there are still agents who want snail mail submissions. Out of the 10 agents I've now queried, 2 of them request submissions by snail mail.
So here are my stats as of today:
10 queries sent (3 of them just yesterday). Of those ten, 7 of them requested a synopsis and a partial ranging from 3 pages to 100 pages, the most prevalent being the first chapter. The other 3 queries were letters only, and one of those has already been rejected (by a form email). Which means she saw nothing in my query that piqued her interest enough to request a writing sample. That's the way it goes. No one writer can appeal to everyone's tastes. What I did like about the rejection is that it only took a week! Thanks for the quick response!
Do you wonder how I chose which agents to submit to? There are a ton of places on the internet where you can search for agent information (QueryTracker, AgentQuery, Publishers Marketplace, AAR, RWA, and lists others have compiled). I live for the internet! I searched those agents who have an interest in what I write, did further research on them for their submission requirements and specific interests & compatibility. Then I composed my list from whom I felt was the best, bestest fit to the more general fit. I now have about 50 agents on my list.
What happens if an agent likes the initial material I sent her/him? If it was just a query letter, the agent will ask to see either a partial manuscript (MS) and synopsis or the full MS. If the agent has seen my partial MS, she/he will ask to see the full MS. That can be on an exclusive or non-exclusive basis. That means, if it's exclusive, then I give her a time limit to read the full MS before I can send it to any other agent. The agent may ask for a specific time, such as 30 days, if not, then I need to specify a time limit, no more than 30 days. From my research, that's plenty of time for an agent to make a decision and doesn't put too much of a crimp in my submission plans if another agent happens to ask to read the full MS.
There you have the nutshell version of querying agents.
Coming soon to my blog: unveiling the big secret novel I've been working on! And that's all I'm sayin'.