Many of my friends and family who are not writers ask about the process. One question I hear a lot, now that I have two completed manuscripts I hope to have published, is “How do you find an agent?”
I spend a lot of time researching agents. I check print and online directories of literary agents; I scour writers’ blogs and websites; and I ask published writers if they can recommend any agents who are taking on new clients. I hunt for those agents who represent not just novels geared for mid-grade to young adult audiences, but those who understand and handle the fantasy genre as well.
Once I find someone who appears promising, I have to follow the guidelines of that agent when submitting my query. Some agents require all queries to be sent through a submission form on their website, while others want queries e-mailed. Some want just a query letter with a short synopsis. Others want a query, a synopsis, and anywhere from 5 pages to 10 chapters of the manuscript. Some want the prospective client’s life story from birth to the present moment and others don’t care who or what the writer is, they let the writing speak for itself. Most will not open attachments, so whatever the agent requires has to be included in the body of the e-mail. So, each query has to be tailored specifically for the agent, but most queries do contain certain basics. Here’s a “typical” query for my series:
Agent 002 ¾
Absolute Bestest Literary Agency Ever…Really
Dear Agent 002 ¾,
Hi there! I was researching agents, and came upon your contact info on an obscure blog that only a handful of people outside of Lost Springs, Wyoming, have ever read. I was so impressed with your client list! You have represented 3 of my idols! As a matter of fact, P.B.J. Sandwich’s last installment in her fantasy series, Alone with 5,000 Dragons and a Solitary Unicorn, was my all-time favorite! I am in awe of this 104-year-old’s career, and I hope by the time I am her age, I will be as successful. And, hopefully, Two (may I call you Two, or do you prefer Ms. Three-Quarters?), you can help me attain that success.
I am seeking representation for my tween (mid-grade to young adult) fantasy adventure novels, Caern’s Treachery and The Search for the Heir, the first two books in my Paths of Destiny series. The third in the envisioned seven book series is in the planning stages.
Destiny. Fate. Predetermination. Call it what you will. You can’t escape it. At least, my characters can’t. The Paths of Destiny series, set in a medieval world where magic exists, follows a number of characters who are set on a path, often through no choice of their own. The series explores how they grow and change from their brush with fate, their walk down destiny’s path. The books are full of intrigue and suspense, peppered with humor, and peopled with characters that surprise, confuse, delight, shock and dismay, characters that will be beloved, characters that will be despised, and characters that will move the reader to pity. The series explores many themes, including friendship, duty, sacrifice, prejudice and, of course, destiny.
Book One: Caern’s Treachery:
In spite of almost insurmountable odds, a young half-dwarf (Cabochon Breccia-Corvius) survives a perilous journey, a treacherous uncle with his own agenda, and enormous personal loss, to discover he has a destiny to fulfill in this heart-rending coming of age tale. (Book completed at approx. 73,000 words)
Book Two: The Search for the Heir
The young half-dwarf, Cabochon Breccia-Corvius, and his two companions (the Gypsy lad, Rokren, and the elven cleric, Saeth), face danger and share adventures as they search for the true heir to the dwarven throne in this poignant sequel to Caern’s Treachery. (Book completed at approx. 95,000 words)
I am returning to writing after a prolonged hiatus. My admittedly dated professional credits as a freelance journalist include articles in local, regional and national publications, mostly in the field of equine sports. I have been published in The Press of Atlantic City, Horseman Magazine, Equus, Rodeo News, Pro Rodeo Sports News, and others. I have also had some short fiction published, in Star Magazine (back when they published a one-page romance in each issue), and Lighthouse Magazine, among others. This series is my first foray into novel-length fiction.
The complete manuscripts of Caern’s Treachery and The Search for the Heir are available upon request. I am certain you would enjoy reading them. I look forward to hearing from you.
Margaret (Cutter) Tesch
900000 Road to Fame
One-horse Town, State of Confusion 00000
Well, that’s it folks – a “typical” query letter in my quest to find an agent for my series. Feel free to stop back from time to time and read over my shoulder any responses I get to this query. I’ll keep the porch light on for you. And if you happen to know any agents who specialize in Young Adult Fantasy and who are taking on new clients, bring them along.