Sunday, February 22, 2009

An Idea for Query Letters and the Web

I read something recently that got me to thinking. Their idea: a website where writers can post a query letter, synopsis, sample chapters, and the manuscript in a sort of profile. That way a link sent to an agent could provide them with any and all of the information they needed. It's a good idea, but it has quite a few problems that will arise from its creation. (i.e. links to wrong site, the initial e-mail doesn't tell if the book is something the agent would deal with, etc)

So I thought about it a while. I remembered some of the search engines for agents already in existence. And then I thought to myself, what if there was a website with the reverse? A site where agents who are looking for new clients can go to do a targeted (advanced) search of what THEY are looking for, what they want to represent. That would certainly take the load off of them, seeing how swamped with queries they are this year. Also, the only way they would need to send a rejection letter is if they requested the manuscript. No need to feel like they hurt anyone's feelings or receive a nasty reply to the rejection. You can see where the writers benefit as well.

On this website, writers would have a profile with their short bio, query letter, synopsis (short and long), and sample chapters available. The full manuscript could either be downloaded from the site where it is stored (with the author's permission first), or if storing the manuscript file on the web is too difficult for such a website, then the agent can request directly from the writer via their e-mail address or contact info. This would also give writers an opportunity to show their personality, unlike the standard, stale query. In the design/layout, through a blog or link to a blog, and maybe some pictures, they could show the agents what kind of person they will be dealing with. If you appear to be likable and intelligent, it might influence an agent who is wavering on a request. Some other good things for writers include that they could take their time, make friends and get critiques or advice on the website from their fellow writers. Generally, they can have fun with the process as opposed to stressing over it.

I'm not saying this idea would make finding an agent/client nothing but sunshine, lollipops, and rainbows. Or that it is without errors. I'm saying this has the potential to make the process significantly less stressful, more efficient, and fun. Who would have ever thought that writing query letters could be fun? Well, I'm saying it is possible. With a website like the one I propose, I can even say it is probable.

Seems like anything that could take away some of that pain I see in my fellow writers' eyes upon rejection, or turn an agent from a stressed out cynic into someone who can smile while doing their job (and mean it), would be worth the try.

What do you think?



  1. I was talking with some friends of mine about this over the weekend, and one of them is a web designer. He said he's been working on a prototype for a site that would work exactly like this. And he said that if I was interested in actually making it happen to let him know. I think I might. If you'd like to chat about it, let me know. You can e-mail me through my profile. :)

  2. Upon further research and the very helpful opinion of an agent kind enough to offer her POV, I have come to believe this idea will not work at all. Oh well. It was a nice thought. :)