Thursday, May 9, 2019

My Top 5 Query Don'ts

Things in your query you might want to reconsider:

1) No spoilers
- I realize you want to hook an agent with the premise, and then reel them in with a tease such as, "but then the main character's world falls apart," or "when the shiz hits the fan," or "a conspiracy is revealed," or "all hell breaks loose," and don't actually tell me HOW plans fall apart, hits the fan, breaks loose, or what the conspiracy is - you've lost me. Give me the spoilers, without it, the pitch is too vague and if the premise is something I've seen 800 times, it might be HOW things fall apart that catches my attention. Don't shoot yourself in the foot right off the bat. GIVE ME THE GOODS.

2) Selling yourself short
- Do not make apologies for not having any writing credits. Also, self-deprecating humor doesn't work in email because I don't know you, and it's hard not to sound like a pity party or an attempt to emotionally manipulate me into feeling sorry for you (which 100% of the time backfires #InstaReject). So, when in doubt, for your author bio just tell me about what you do for a day job and if you have any pets. It's better this way.

3) First Drafts
- Do not send me your first draft. Period. I don't care if you're genius incarnate, DO AN EDIT, or three! "Hey, I just finished my first book and I could really use a professional's opinion about my work." Hell to the N-O. I am not a critique partner or a beta reader. I am an agent who wants books that are ready to sell, or can be with minimal edits. If you send me your first draft and I read the first 10 pages and it reads like a first draft, that's a rejection and no, I don't want to see it again even if you've done a major revision. I'll SOMETIMES take major revisions on partials or fulls, but never on a query. You've just fired your one shot and missed the target completely. Don't do this. And btw, if you send me your first draft and just don't tell me, I can tell anyway.

4) "You're not like other agents"
- It's entirely possible I'm being far too sensitive about this one, but if you tell me I'm not like those "other agents" then I'm going to think you'd be better off self-publishing. Those "other agents" are my colleagues and I respect them immensely and if you're insulting them right off the bat in some misconstrued effort to make me feel special, to me, that's emotional manipulation and I'm going to pass. HARD. Another note, is those "other agents" are part of an archaic publishing machine that's been running for centuries and if you can't work within that system, or get easily angered and frustrated to the point of public disrespect, then you are not going to make it far in the traditional publishing world. Another HARD PASS. Don't do this. It's insulting.

5) Don't Follow Query Specifications
- I have over 200+ unanswered queries in my in-box right now. I ask for the specifications in these queries because my time is just as valuable as yours, and I'd like to answer each one of you personally. If you don't follow these recommendations, then you are wasting my time. It's disrespectful and shows a lack of follow-through. There are a lot of writers who feel that agents are LUCKY to receive their pitch, and I do in fact, feel very fortunate to have this job. But a writer treating an agent like "the help" is not. how. this. works. It's a business relationship. And if my first impression is that you're just blanketing rando agents with the same pitch and not taking the time to follow query specs, then perhaps your attention to detail is lacking. Does this carry through to the manuscript? Probably! I'm thinking maybe your work isn't meant for the traditional publishing market - because that also, has a bunch of specifications - depending on the category and genre - and if you can't follow the first step, my faith in your ability to follow the next 20 is pretty slim. Do the homework, folks. It's not rocket science. My specs are on this blog, on the D4EO website, and pinned to my Twitter profile. I can't make it any more easier for you.
Google it.

Monday, April 29, 2019

Query Hints

For those of you here to get some clues as to what I'm looking to represent, here's a hodge podge of my likes and dislikes, I hope this proves helpful to you.

I'm not going to request to read your manuscript if your word count is too low or too high.
What I'm looking for:
YA: 65k - 100k words
Adult: 75k - 125k words

Now, if I read your sample pages and immediately fall in love with your prose, and your manuscript is a little too short or a little too long, I will request your pages in the hopes that we can add or we can cut, but if you're around 60k or less, or 130k or more, that's an automatic pass because I'm not a magician and that's too many words to add or delete.

I'm not a fan of serial killer thrillers.
I know I represent thrillers, and this seems like an odd thing to state because such a large portion of thrillers involve serial killers, but if your manuscript starts with the murder of some innocent person (usually a woman, or a girl), then I am immediately turned off. I don't get off watching murder. I don't actually care what makes an evil person evil. I don't need to live in the mind of a killer as he or she plots their victim's demise(s). That's a hard pass from me.

I'm also not a fan of drunk and/or high male, damaged detectives investigating a long string of nameless dead girls. I have no patience for it. It's a 20th century trope and we need to put this sexist narrative to rest.

Give me your innovative thrillers and murder mysteries with fully developed female - and male - characters that don't celebrate the sickness of depravity.

Please and thank you.

I usually skip prologues
When I ask for the first 10 pages of your manuscript in the query, I suggest you send me the first 10 pages of Chapter 1, NOT your exposition-laden, world-building, prologue that has nothing to do with introducing your main character.

If/when I request the first 50, or the full, then you can send me the prologue. But you only have 10 pages in a query, don't waste it on back story. I have a short attention span and you want to grab me right away.
I'm not certain if other agents feel the same way about this, but for me, skip the appetizer and serve me the main course right away.

What's the plot?
A complicated world is cool. An interesting back story as to how the apocalypse happened is interesting to me. A twist on an old trope is always a plus.
But none of these matter if you don't tell me the plot of the book.
So many people pitch me the back story or the set up to their book in their 2 - 3 paragraph pitch, but many don't tell me the plot to the actual story.

I don't need to know in the query everything that happened before the book starts. I need to know what happens in the book.

The main character, the main conflict, the major complication, and a hint at the conclusion.

Ex. Dorothy from Kansas (main character), is trapped in Oz (main conflict), but there's a witch after her (major complication), and she needs to help of her 3 friends and a wizard to get her home (hint at a conclusion).

Even better, if you give me the conclusion.
Ex. ...and she needs the brains of a scarecrow, the heart of a tinman, the bravery of a lion, and a trickster wizard of a mysterious magical city, to get her home.

REQUEST!

I don't need to know in the query about Aunt Em, or even the tornado, or how Dorothy came to live with her elder Aunt and Uncle, or about the crazy neighbor who hates her dog - that's not the crux of the story.

Give me the plot. Not the set up.

I hope these little hints prove helpful during the difficult and stressful querying process. I've been there! I know it's rough. Hang in there, and keep improving.
Best,
Anne









Thursday, April 11, 2019

ANNE's QUERY SPECS

Unless I have already passed on your pitch at Red Sofa or via D4EO email, query me at http://QueryMe.Online/AnneTibbets

I represent:
Adult and YA Thriller NOVELS (word count 70k+)
- No drunk detectives investigating a long line of dead nameless girls, please
- No redemptive Nazi narratives 
Adult and YA Horror NOVELS (word count 70k+) 
- Monsters and psychos and creepers, oh my! 
Adult and YA Historical NOVELS (word count 70k+)
- Sweeping and dramatic with amazing settings 
Adult and YA Mystery NOVELS (word count 65k+)
- Who done it? Why done it? How done it? 
Adult Romance NOVELS (word count 60k+)
- No erotica
- Slow burn, high burn, rom com, genre rom, all sexual and gender orientations
- Be advised: If your hero/heroine is so Alpha they're an arrogant jerk, I'm not interested
Adult and YA Science Fiction and Fantasy NOVELS (word count 75k+)
- Utopia, dystopia, urban, high, low, hard, soft, post apocalyptic, natural disaster - I WANT IT AL.
[Keep in mind I'm a bit full up on YA F, so I suggest you hold off on querying me that until Winter 2019]

NEW SUBMISSION GUIDELINES
Please be prepared to include in your Query:
Category
Genre
Word count (not page count)
1 – 3 paragraph synopsis
Short author bio
Previously published titles (self published counts)
First 10 pages writing sample within the form MEDIUM or LARGE FONT.
Unrequested attachments will be deleted 

I read every query. 
Please allow 4 - 6 for a response.
Please allow 10 - 12 weeks to respond to partial or full requests.

I do not represent self-published (or sequels to self-published), picture books, chapter books, poetry, middle grade, non-fiction, memoir, novellas, short stories, or screenplays. 


Let's do this :)

Monday, February 11, 2019

Why Don't You Represent Self-Published Books, Anne?

Hello! You've self-published a book! Congratulations! It's a major accomplishment and I commend you on your achievement - but no, I'm not going to take your self-published book and try to sell it to a traditional publisher and here's why:
1) Publishing houses want to edit your book to their tastes and standards.
 - If there's already an unedited version self-published, that bell has already been rung - so to speak - and they can't ring that bell again. Plus, then there will be two versions of the book out there (likely with different covers too), and that'll create buyer confusion - which could cut sales - and they don't want that.

2) But, what about books like 50 Shades and The Martian that were self-published first and then sold traditionally?
- Email me a query when your self-published book sells over 100k copies (like the above mentioned titles) and then - MAYBE - I might be able to sell your novel to a trad publisher. Anything less than that? I'm sorry, they don't want it.

3) Your art work/cover is probably not to their taste either, plus there's copyright issues with the artist they didn't choose, that'll add to their headache. Again, more trouble than it's worth UNLESS (see highlighted number above).

No, an unpublished sequel to your self-published book won't work either.

I sympathize - I really do, as I once self published a book and then couldn't get an agent to rep it - so I've been there! I get it. You're frustrated with good reason.

So, what do you do if you want to get a book into book stores?

My advice:
1) Write a whole new book that's completely unrelated to anything you've self published, that's unsold anywhere, unpublished anyplace (even online), and fits into the traditional publishing categories, sub-genres, and word count requirements, and query agents with that novel.

I wish you luck.
Best Regards,
Anne Tibbets