Wednesday, May 02, 2007

Reader Question: The Queries We're Getting

Hi. I'm always interested in what kinds of queries agents are getting. Are there common themes in character names, plot ideas, something that is just way out there? Did you find something in the query box that got you excited? Are people following your submission guidelines?

This is a fun question and I’m not sure how to answer it. Obviously not all agents get the same types of queries. Queries differ based on your reputation, what you represent, where your name is listed, and who knows you exist.

I don’t notice a trend in character names, although I suspect there is one. What we do notice, and what we’ve been putting together a post on, is a definite trend toward titles, especially those that seem unoriginal and that, frankly, we’re sick of seeing. Plot ideas also tend to trend—especially if writers start to see sales of a certain type of book or hear editors talk about a theme they are looking for. Almost a year ago I sold a werewolf romance. There weren’t many and the author and I both saw it as the next thing after vampires. Now I’m getting at least one werewolf romance a day and editors are close to full on both vampires and werewolves.

I’ve found a lot of really great queries and proposals lately and have requested more than a few full manuscripts. At this moment I’m most excited about fiction with more suspense elements. Of course I’m always looking for anything with a good hook, but suspense it what I’m gravitating to.

And do people follow our submission guidelines? Ha! I wish. No, really, most of you do a fantastic job. I don’t expect them to be followed to the letter, although it would be helpful, but there are the few who call, those who feel that chapters 7, 18, and 42 constitute the “first” three chapters, those who send attachments, and of course those who send illustrated children’s books or poetry. You can always tell when certain agent listings are published (and I will mention names later) by the quality of submissions we are receiving.

I will try to do more posts on queries and what we’re getting to keep reminding you all of what life can be like behind the stacks of submissions.



Katie said...

You guys do a great job with concise, interesting posts.

Years ago, when I did a lot of screenplay coverage, one in three scripts I read had a character named Jack, Anne, or Angel.

JDuncan said...

Ha! What about suspense stories involving werewolves or vampires? I am curious though, as I've heard a lot recently how overdone the whole vampire/werewolf thing is these days, and yet it seems that one is always able to find at least vampire stories coming out year in and year out. Folks just like these characters. So, one just needs to be even more unique and spot on with their story now


Anonymous said...

Are titles much of a factor (good or bad) anyway in a query? I always hear that an author shouldn't become too enamored with the title he/she came up with for their manuscript because in all likelihood the publisher will change it.

As far as names, I believe Kristin Nelson once posted on her blog that the name Kate was used too much for the heroine.

Great post.

Grace Draven

Kim Lionetti said...

Hi Grace--

Thanks for asking about titles. I actually have a post going up very soon on that very subject! Keep an eye out!