Scary query? Let me just tell you….

Scary Query

Querying an Agent

Querying a literary agent can be terrifying, even paralyzing to a degree. You may not know this, but a query letter is the precious thing upon which a writer rests the future of their book. In the query, the author must:

  • Establish a connection with the prospective agent
  • Declare his/her/their book’s genre (and sub-genres)
  • Reveal their word count
  • Describe their story (among other things) perfectly and succinctly and grab the agent’s attention in as few words as possible
  • Give a very brief, humble, yet impressive bio
  • Sign off professionally
  • Include all of your contact info
  • Keep the letter to one page (when printed on 8.5” x 11”)
  • Do it all looking good while doing it
  • And, do it all without seeming like you are begging, praying and wishing upon stars.

Everything Must Be Perfect

Everything must be perfect in the scary query letter. When you think about it, it makes sense. Literary agents read 300 or more query letters a week from prospective writers asking them to represent their book to potential publishers.

Choosing an Agent

Officially the scary query is a request to represent the book, but an agent is so much more. First, he/she/they is the person with whom you will trust to shepherd, honor, and be loyal to you and the fruits of your long, hard labor. I’ve heard some agents even hold your hand (metaphorically) and cheer you on.

Obviously, the author needs to be picky about choosing an agent, which sounds ludicrous because you have to keep choosing and choosing until one of your choices utters that magical, “Yes.” Still, the author must ask:

  • Does this agent represent my genre?
  • Will they pick up what I’m putting down?
  • Do I like how and what they post out there in social media-verse?
    • Represent themselves ethically
    • Appear generally positive
    • If ranting, rant on worthy topics
  • And gobs of other questions.

The Waiting

Then there’s the waiting and hoping and waiting part of the scary query letter process. Sometimes, you never hear back from that agent you have chosen to query. But, that’s cool. They’re busy. They still have hundreds of queries to read. I like to think that the universe will bring them to the right author and the author to the best agent.

It’s all good.

Maybe it’s not scary after all.

Nah, it’s definitely scary…but do it anyway.

With Love and Thanks

…for your help through a recent paralysis trap, the seemingly impossible one-sentence pitch so that I could send out my latest query:

Kevin Anderson, my accountability sponsor/coach, and his granddaughter Zion; sister-friend, life sponsor/coach, and Sassytoon-ist, Sarah Ruckdaschel, and her daughter, Tobyn Ball; cool cousin-brother, Steve Clark; and sister-friend, beta reader and gourd artist, Val Kimball.


Tanya D. Dawson’s pending young adult novel is a becoming-who-you-are YA contemporary-fantasy called Andersen Light: A Mystic Creek Novel (working title). While Andersen Light is primarily set in the fictional town of Mystic Creek, Oregon, Tanya lives in the American Southwest with her amazing husband and (mostly silent) partner, Katie-dog.

Katie-dog
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