Two questions agents frequently are asked via the slush pile are “Could you give me some feedback on my query letter/sample pages?” and “Sorry my project wasn’t right for you, but could you recommend another agent?”
Unfortunately, agencies receive such a high volume of submissions that they can’t give personalized feedback on every query letter, and only limited feedback on partials. Although they will occasionally do a referral, in general agents aren’t comfortable referring unfamiliar work to a colleague (that is, when they’ve seen only the author’s query letter).
So, since I hate being unhelpful, I keep a handy list of resources to send to authors looking for advice. Here, a handful of my favorites:
A great one-stop spot with a directory of agents, editors, and helpful resources by topic.
An agent directory that you can search by genre—use this to make sure you’re not getting turned down for targeting the wrong agents.
A site containing hundreds of critiqued queries—find one that resembles yours and take the advice to heart. Or if you’re lucky, your query could be chosen for a free critique.
A free online critique group. You earn credits by critiquing others’ work, and then use your credits for the opportunity to submit your own work.
If you think your query problems might have to do with grammar or style errors, this online version of the Chicago Manual of Style is a great investment at $30 for a one-year subscription. Or you can buy a hard copy of the 16th edition in bookstores or online.
Do you have favorite websites to add to this list? I welcome your comments and suggestions!