The beginning of 2013 marks just over three months since I joined the Bent Agency. It’s been an exciting time, and I have to say I’ve been impressed with the quality of my submissions. I rarely get queries for genres I don’t represent, and most people remember to paste in the first ten pages (or at least resend them immediately as instructed by my auto-response). I’m lucky to have found my submissions a fun place to dive into!
At a recent conference, I was asked how I approached my query inbox. I joked that I creep up on it slowly so as not to frighten it away, while all the time thinking what a great topic for a blog post that question would be.
How I read my queries
I go through queries from oldest to newest, and usually check the inbox for half hour or hour at the beginning or end of the day. I read all queries myself, and usually the same way - I glance at the genre and age range, skim read the plot/blurb/synopsis part, and then head to the pages. From reading these, I make one of three decisions.
1) Pass – the pages didn’t grab me enough and I wouldn’t be the right agent to represent it.
2) Request – I loved the pages and after reading the query more thoroughly, I also loved the concept. I only request fulls when I am serious about reading the whole manuscript.
3) Maybe – I set these aside to come back to.
The maybe pile is the hardest one to make a judgement on. As I mentioned, I don’t arbitrarily request fulls as I know how much anticipation and excitement this request gives a writer. I want to ensure I really want to read the whole manuscript before sending that email.
The maybe pile helps me with this. When I’m reading queries, sometimes a submission can stand out as good because I’m comparing it to a run of things that are really not right for me. However, when I look at it fresh, I can make a better judgement. I have offered on things in my maybe pile, so it’s not necessarily a bad place to be. With fresh eyes, I can often think, ‘man, I wish I’d asked for this last night so I could read the next chapter now!’
The types of things I’ve been requesting
· YA historical with great voice – my most requested genre
· Literary MG – again, I’ve requested a few of these.
· Diverse MG in a paranormal/fantasy setting, where the plot isn’t at all about diversity
· YA with a psychological bent, or a clever twist
· YA retelling that feels fresh
· YA Sci-Fi with boy POV
· Gross-out chapter book/younger fiction
· Animal-based chapter book series
· YA contemporary romance
What I have signed
I have signed a fantastic young fiction (8+) with series potential - set in a Roald Dahl type world of not quite normal, with a strong voice and amazing cast of characters.
I am also seriously considering a YA historical murder/mystery that has Agatha Christie elements with a Downton Abbey feel.
What is still on my wish list
I wrote a blog post just before Christmas about my favourite books of 2012 and a very detailed wish list.
Key things to take from this are:· Boy POV – still very keen on this, but tending more towards MG at the moment. Character driven or action/adventure. Funny or high suspense. Please keep sending.
· Books that make me cry. I‘d love more heartwarming stories that genuinely get under my skin.
· A YA romance. I want to fall in love!
· Still on the historical kick, so keep them coming. Any age, but I do prefer them to have a diary-type feel, so generally 1st POV.
· Any sort of mystery/crime for YA or MG, please!
You can send me children's or YA submissions to firstname.lastname@example.org with your title and genre in the subject line, and your first 10 pages pasted under your query letter. Submissions guidelines can be found here. I'm really looking forward to seeing what 2013 has to offer. Happy to answer any questions in the comments.