Zeno Literary is a London agency that periodically opens to queries, posting on its web site what it specifically is looking for, and then closing to queries when it receives enough. It recently went through an open cycle, and then posted these helpful tips (apparently in frustration). They seem obvious, but since they apply to any agency, no matter where you query, they bear repeating here:
"This web site is full of useful information that is there to help you in targeting your submissions correctly. Why is it that some folks can’t be bothered to read it? Those same folks expect us to read their work!
There are no ‘Madams’ at this agency! Queries that open with ‘Dear Sir / Madam‘ are from people far too lazy to do their homework. We don’t want to work with lazy people. Our names are plastered all over this web site – how hard can it be to address your queries correctly?
It rather helps to include the title of your novel when you query.
It *really* helps to have finished your novel before you query. Did you ever pick up a book in a book store where the last 100 pages were blank? No? That’s because publishers like to publish *finished* novels. We’re not interested in your unfinished masterpiece and cannot sell your project on a promise that you might, one day, get off your backside and complete it.
If you want to know how long your book should be, go to a book store, pick up a book that is in the same genre as yours and count the words on a complete line, then count the lines on the page. Multiply that number by the total page count and you’ve got a guide as to how many words a book should be. Do this with three different books and get an average figure. This will help those of you sending in novellas (where do you imagine we can sell your novella?) or novels of 46k, 55k, 60k, 214k etc. DO YOUR HOMEWORK.
If we say we want ‘dystopian YA’ and ‘traditional fantasy’, these terms are not inter-changable with each other. Sending a pitch for a dystopian fantasy, thinking we won’t notice is just plain stooopid!
If you send a hard copy submission in the mail, it will be filed under ‘B‘ (for ‘bin’)
If you append your email with the first chapter of your book, it will sit in the trash forever unread.
Having spent so many, many hours investing in your novel, crafting it and honing it, why would you only spend a few scant minutes in submitting it?"
:study: Words to live by.