I know, I know, I'm probably preaching to the choir here, and I'm sure nobody who NEEDS this info will actually read it. But it needs to be said once again. Note that these are MY query guidelines - other agents at other agencies may have different guidelines. Check agency websites for details.
I noticed recently that about half the queries I get don't follow the guidelines at all. And so they are deleted. Just... deleted. I don't have time for it. See, agency submission guidelines are not arbitrary. Nor are they some sort of test, or game, or trial that I am putting you through. They are simple, they are useful, and they exist for one big reason:
QUERY GUIDELINES EXIST SO YOUR WORK WILL GET A FAIR SHOT.
Let me explain. I just got home from a few days away and had 3,000 emails in my inbox upon my return. I generally get 300-500 emails per day that are NOT queries. Believe me when I tell you: YOU DO NOT WANT TO BE IN MY REGULAR INBOX. My regular inbox is a slash-and-burn affair where I am trying to delete or flag as fast as the stuff comes in.
What gets flagged for closer inspection are emails from clients and friends and work colleagues (editors, other agents, bookstore people and the like). Anything else gets deleted pretty much without a glance. The ramblings of strangers are not going to get flagged, let's put it that way.
Queries that follow the directions and have the word "query" in the go into a special marked QUERIES! folder. I read them when I am not doing anything else. I read them whenever I have time, and I take my time to read them. All the agents at ABLA, including me, have found gems in the slush, and it is extremely important to us that we keep going through these submissions. I may gripe about the people who don't follow directions, but for the rest of you, I really want to read your stuff, no joke. I WANT to find the next big thing. New talent is our life-blood.
So please help me help you.
The guidelines are easy. Pick one agent at the agency, and query them following these simple rules. If you don't follow them, you'll be deleted unread.
1) PUT THE WORD "QUERY" IN THE SUBJECT LINE
2) PUT A QUERY LETTER AND THE FIRST TEN PAGES IN THE BODY OF THE EMAIL
3) NO ATTACHMENTS
NOTE: I only rep MG and YA. Everything else will be deleted unread.