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Tips on Contacting Literary Agents

1) Carefully study the literary marketplace before querying agents. Buy Jeff Herman’s book, Guide to Book Publishers, Editors, and Literary Agents; select agents who represent authors of books similar to yours. (Avoid agents who charge money up front.)

2) Go to each agent’s website and read the guidelines for contacting him/her. If she says “query only,” send just a query. If she says, “Send a query and brief synopsis,” that’s what you should send. Give the agent only what he/she asks for. (Most want a one-page query letter, single-spaced, and a one- to two-page synopsis, double-spaced.)

3) If an agent wants an emailed query package, make sure to include your name, email address, and one phone number on the first page of the synopsis. If he/she wants hard copy, which is rare these days, enclose a self-addressed, stamped envelope (SASE) for his or her response.

4) If an agent says it takes three months to respond to a query, wait three months before following up. Follow up with a brief note or an email. Never call an agent.

5) If an agent asks for three sample chapters, send only three. If he or she wants a hard copy, be sure to send an SASE that’s big enough and with enough postage to get the chapters back to you. If you don’t, you won’t likely hear from that agent again.

6) If an agent asks for your whole manuscript in hard copy, send it with a self-addressed, stamped mailer or box so it can be returned to you. Many office supply stores have double-box sets designed specifically for authors. (For emailed manuscripts, include your name, address, email address, and one phone number on the first page. On all subsequent pages, put your last name and an abbreviated title on the top left-hand side. For example: Snowden/Lies.)

7) From time to time, one of the writers’ magazines lists agents who’re accepting manuscripts. If you see one of these listings, wait at least a month to query those agents; they will be inundated when the listing or article first comes out.

8) If an agent asks for your complete manuscript, send it as soon as possible.

9) If your manuscript has been professionally edited, do mention that at the close of your query letter.

10) Some agents will state that simultaneous submissions are OK. That means it’s all right for you to query other agents at the same time you query them.

11) ) I don’t write queries and synopses for authors, but I do critique and line edit them. (If you’re interested in receiving my rate sheet, please email me at


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(45 mins. from Greenville, SC; 2 hrs. from Charlotte, NC; 3 hrs. from Atlanta)
Note: In this cyberculture we do, of course, work with writers across the country.