My friend Lucienne Diver has a post about Query Do’s and Dont’s. I’ve read through it and I don’t think I have a difference of opinion with any of her bullet points. And double-please-yes for including page numbers on requested manuscripts — the lack of them has been happening a lot more often lately and I dont know why.
And Nephele Tempest (also of the Knight Agency) discusses reasons to actually follow submission guidelines (the horror!).
Regretfully, most writers reading any of the agent blogs are unlikely to make the mistakes that seem to make the query process harder on the agent-side of things. It’s mostly preaching to the choir. It does rather drive me bonkers, though, that one puts submission guidelines out there on the website (which is so very easy to google up unless your google-fu is absurdly bad) and the percentage of people who apparently can’t be bothered is so ridiculously high. Though I must admit that the queries that come in that mention the guidelines and then proceed to state they will flout them are even more amazing to me.
Of course, the problem, as I see it, is that agents (or their assistants) still have to spend time on these — it just slows the whole thing down and it’s the other reason besides volume that response times are as high as they are. I’d guess probably about 1/3 of the queries I receive are completely inappropriate and wouldn’t have been sent to me by someone who had actually done the research. And I don’t understand after they take months, or perhaps even years, to write the book, why they will not make the commitment to giving it the best shot it should have in such a very competitive business….