Thursday, October 14, 2010

How to Write a Query Letter That Genre Agents Want Now

This is a guest post form Jeff Rivera . . .

Everyday I'm on the phone with top agencies and literary agents that would have most writers salivating. They tell me on the down-low exactly what they're looking for in a writer and some of the inside secrets in getting them, to sign you. I thought I might share with you a few of the genres that they are dying for right now:

1) Middle Grade - If you write middle grade fiction and have a unique funny voice, agents will be ringing down your phone. Especially, if you write books for boys 9 -11 that are funny, funny, funny. "Stay away from bathroom humor," one agent who just sold a 3-book deal for her client said, "but let's face it, some of the biggest selling boy books are full of farts, snot, and talking butts" (literally).

2) YA (Young Adult fiction) - Beyond just the Twlight books, YA fiction is one of the biggest selling genres right now in books. In fact, although most book sales have gone down, this genre has gone up. If you have a background in education, or are a camp counselor, babysitter, parent, aunt, or uncle of a teen, definitely mention this in your query letter. Edgy, edgy, edgy - that's what they're looking for. Don't be afraid to have sex scenes or violence or curse words. And if you write clean cut Christian fiction, don't be afraid to mention that too. There's definitely a call for that as well. Don't talk down to teens talk up and keep your protagonist between 15 -21 years old if you can.

3) Graphic Novels
 - Oh, my God. If you want to light a fire and get a huge reaction from agents then tell them you have a graphic novel or better yet a graphic memoir. They're dying for them. You only need a 5-page sample of your art work and a full summary. So, even if you can't draw, you can team up with an artist. We can help you with that by the way at: One tip: Try to stay away from comic book style art and do more of a style in the vein of Stitches by David Small or the Pulitzer Prize-winning Mause if you can.

4) High Platform Nonfiction Books - Platform is king, not content. One agent who just sold a book deal last week for over a half million dollars told me that editors are looking for one thing only, platform. Who cares if you can write? They can always hire a co-writer or ghostwriter to write with or for you.

If you have a huge platform, mention it in your first paragraph. I would say in your first sentence, literally. I did this for one client a week ago and he had over 30 agents that responded to his query letter in less than 24 hours. As you know, a platform is a built-in fan base. It's guaranteed buyers (not potential ones) that are poised and ready to by it. One big wig publisher at a Harper Collins imprint told me a few days ago that saying you can get a lot media coverage isn't going to cut it nowadays. It helps to have pre-buys and bring those to the table. Exactly how many? And what can you do if you think you don't have a platform? Well, if you want to know more about how to do that, stay tuned and we'll go into more of that next time.

For more tips visit my new site:

And by the way, we're having a special for our query letter service from today to Monday, October 18th. 1/2 off, yes that's 50% off our normal price but only until this Monday then it goes up to its normal price. We guarantee we'll get at least 10 top agents to request to read your manuscript or proposal or double your money back.

- Jeff Rivera of

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