Querying Like Teresa Guidice

No more classes, no more essays, no more students dirty adoring looks.

The semester is finally over, which means that I now have the time to focus on my writing. It’s always a good day when you wake up and are able to say, “Today will be all about me.” Not that the last nine months haven’t been great, because they have. I love teaching, but as I’ve mentioned before, I don’t get to experience an empty email inbox too often get too much time for myself.

All of that changed this week. I woke up yesterday morning without a care in the world. A few students emailed me asking about their grades, and I had a few work-related emails to send out, but the rest of the day was mine! I proofread a blog post about my friend and crazy-talented author Jess Verdi and her book My Life After Now (which, if you haven’t purchased her book after yesterdays review, WHAT ARE YOU WAITING FOR!?), got a haircut (which looks DELICIOUS), and made my way into the city for a marvelous dinner at a cute cafe/bistro with Ms. Verdi.

What a life I lead, eh?

The best thing about it was that it inspired me to get my ass in gear and start sending out my manuscript. Yes, I had planned on starting that whole process this week, but I kinda sorta maybe figured I’d end up putting it off – like I always tend to do. But Jess is a powerful motivational speaker/Grade A listener. Seriously. She should consider a career in motivating young writers.

There’s something to be said about discussing your writing with other writers that is truly uplifting, especially those who are already published. It’s like going to Disney World for the first time and coming face-to-face with Mickey Mouse; you’re suddenly hit by the notion that anything can happen.

Oh, what a wonderful feeling!

So when I woke up this morning, I was determined to send out at least 20 query letters to perspective literary agents.

Querying: Day 1

Where the hell do I begin? Well, luckily I had a list of agent suggestions from the lovely Jess Verdi, but if I didn’t have that, I’d probably cry within seconds of opening my laptop.

Just kidding. Actually, it’s fairly easy to find lit agents, it just takes a bit of time.

So once I went through the list I already had, I actually had to start digging. I used sites like AgenyQuery.com and WritersDigest.com.

Seems easy, right?

I can’t just send a query letter to ANY agent. It doesn’t work like that. Would you go to Home Depot and expect to find a prom dress? Exactly. One of the biggest lessons I try to teach my kids is to “know your audience.”

  1. Is the agent accepting unsolicited submissions?
  2. Is the agent currently accepting submissions of any kind?
  3. Does the agent – in my case – represent YA titles?
  4. If so, what genre?

I write contemporary YA. My completed manuscript is a coming-of-age novel with a snarky gay main character and a lots of pop culture references. Therefore, I have to make sure that the agents I submit to accept that sorta thang.

Simple enough.

Now comes the worst part: it’s time to make sure my letter is free of all grammatical errors.

To submit a letter to an agent riddled with grammar mistakes is pretty much like shooting yourself in the foot. Who in their right mind would want to read an entire manuscript from someone who can’t write a proper one page query letter?

So imagine my surprise when, after I send out about 11 query letters, that I notice one comma is in the wrong place in my address in the heading.

Story of my life.

But at the end of the day, I sent out 21 query letters. I’ll send out more tomorrow.

Now I just have to wait for responses.

Agents! I’m here! Waiting…


  1. My advice would be to not query too many agents all at once. I’d send ten or so out there and give it a little time to see if/what you hear back. (I say this because I wish I’d listened to this advice the first time. I queried way too many agents in the beginning. A hundred or so rejections later, I finally faced the reality that my query letter and manuscript weren’t getting me anywhere/needed some major revisions.) But hopefully you’ll get some good news back soon!


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