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When you decide to try to send in a query letter for the first time, you have one big choice to make right off the bat. Should you send your query letter to an agent who can then take you on as a client and shop your book around or should you submitted directly to your top choice for publisher? It’s a big question and the answer is different for everyone. Before we get into that, let’s take a look at what an agent actually does.

Legitimate literary agents are publishing industry professionals that have developed contacts with publishing houses, become an expert on books of certain genres or topics and know exactly how book publishing works. Publishing houses take very seriously the books that they receive from agents that they work with because they know that the book is going to be high-quality, they know that it is going to be something that they would publish and they trust that agents judgment that it is worth making an investment in because the agent only gets paid if the book sells. Agents always get a commission on book sales. Any agent that attempts to charge upfront is not a legitimate literary agent.

So, now you know what it agent does. So when you are sending a query letter to an agent, the difference between the wording that you will use in that letter in the wording that you’ll use in a letter to a publisher has to do with the fact that you are trying to sell yourself a little bit more to the agent. Your first task is to sell the book. That is the most important step and should be the first part of your query letter. However, after the book pitch (in an agent query), you may want to include some of the more prestigious places that you have been published and whether you have had a book deal before. You may also want to mention if the book is intended to have a sequel or if there are multiple zone series.

These are subjects that you typically employed when you are sending a query letter to a publisher. You only want to include publishing credits that are really prestigious and well-known. You may mention in passing that you Artie started working on the second book in the series, but you shouldn’t focus a lot of time on it nor should you focus on multiple books in a series.

However, whether you are sending your query letter to an agent or publisher, one of the most important things that you can do is to make it personal. That means doing your research and choosing an editor or an agent that accepts the types of books that you have written and has a good track record with selling or publishing them. Make sure that you get their name, title, office address and other details correct so that your letter doesn’t get lost in the unaddressed letter pile.

Julie Gonzalez