Would you like to raise the percentage of requests your query reels in?
It might be as simple as rearching just a little more before hitting send. You can go:
BROAD- Query an agent who reps your category (young adult, middle grade, adult).
SPECIFIC-Query an agent who reps your genre (middle grade fantasy, contemporary young adult).
REALLY SPECIFIC-Query an agent who reps someone in your genre who has a similar style.
Let me clarify one thing—by “similar style,” I mean just that. Agents don’t want to rep the exact same plot written in the exact same voice—that’s the opposite of the “new and fresh” that many are looking for. I’m talking about going the distance (okay, or spending an extra thirty minutes on the internet) to see if they tend to represent humorous and heartwarming, lyrical and haunting, quirky and unique, commercial and high-concept (or all of those), and figuring out if your manuscript might be a match for their list.
1. Think of a few books that you might use as a comparative title. If your book is edgy and written in verse, you might compare it to a Ellen Hopkins book. For the sake of this exercise, I picked her novel Identical.
2. Go to Amazon.com and type in those books.
3. Scroll down to see “Customers of this book also bought…” Usually those books have a similar style or plot point. Scary books will give you more scary books, fantasy will usually give you fantasy, edgy breeds edgy, etc.
4. Make a list of the books and authors. When I typed in Identical, I got a bunch of other Ellen Hopkins books, but pressing the right arrow gave me more options. Four authors listed were: Patricia McCormick, Lisa McMann, Allison van Diepen, and Jay Asher.
5. Go to THIS AWESOME QUERYTRACKER TOOL to find out who represents the authors. If your author isn’t listed, you may have to do some Googling or move on to the next author on your list. My search gave me the agents Laura Rennert of Andrea Brown (reps Ellen H. and Jay Asher), Michael Bourret of Dystel & Goderich (reps Lisa McMann), and Ashley Grayson of Grayson Literary (reps A. van Diepen).
6. Check those agents and see if they're accepting submissions (and if you think they’d still be a fit). If you're submitting an edgy YA book, it's a good sign that these guys have repped something similar in style (not a twin version of an existing book), and there's decent reason to believe that yours may interest them too.
7. Please, please, please, make sure you’ve read the book they repped if you’re going to mention in a query!
By no means will this guarantee you a bunch of requests, but if you’ve polished that query and those first pages (okay, and preferably the entire manuscript as well) until they shine, I think your chances of getting page requests are better if you really look for an agent who you think is Ms./Mr. Right, not Ms./Mr. Right Now.
**Psssst~ this is kind of fun to do! I just tried typing in The Mysterious Benedict Society, and got a bunch of fun titles/authors to look into. I don't even write things like that, but it's kind of neat to see which agents represent your favorite authors.
See you on Friday!