UK versus US Queries

Submission protocol, query etiquette, and strategies that work
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UK versus US Queries

Post by Inglory » September 5th, 2010, 6:18 am

I'm stumped. Most of the good info regarding killer query letters comes from US agent blogs like this one, which recommend you go straight into selling your story. So for weeks I've been honing my query to make it as punchy and seductive as possible.

But I'm now submitting to UK agents, and have read that this, for example, makes for an acceptable query:

Dear John Smith-Jones,

I am currently seeking representation for my completed novel "Masterpiece", a 70,000 word thriller/sci-fi/romance, targeted toward the Thrill-Seeking-Scientific-Romantics imprint of your publishing house.

My story is similar in style and target-audience to your client, Mary Blech's novel, "Futuristic Amazonian Lovers".

My past publishing credits include: "Wonderful" - a short story sold to "Blah Magazine" in 1999 and "Amazing" - an award-winning article sold to "Humbug Publishing" in 2000.

Attached is a copy of the synopsis for "Masterpiece" The manuscript can be made available to you at your request and I can be contacted at the above listings.

I look forward to your response at your earliest convenience.

Regards, Super Author

Can this really be true? There isn't an awful lot of guidance out there for UK submissions, but those agents who specify, DO suggest they want a paragraph about the story at the most - and more info about the author.

Has anyone submitted successfully to a UK agent. If so, any tips?



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Re: UK versus US Queries

Post by Mira » September 8th, 2010, 8:22 pm

Faye - that's a great question! I would bet that the etiquette for UK agents is different than for U.S. I have occasionally seen posts that say that as well.

Could you go onto U.K. agent's websites and scout around? Or maybe there's a specific forum for U.K. writers? Something specific to your area?

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Re: UK versus US Queries

Post by dgaughran » September 29th, 2010, 6:58 am

In my last round of submissions, I queried both UK and US agents (I am Irish but my story my appeal more to an American agent/audience), and there can be substantial differences that are worth keeping in mind, and it's really all about research. Some worth noting about UK agents:

* Some agents do not accept simultaneous submissions, even at query stage. I think Maeve Binchy's agent is one of these. So if she is your dream agent, keep this in mind.
* A LOT of the big agencies only accept snail mail submission.
* My personal experience is that they are slower to respond.
* Many will only accept submissions from UK (and Irish) based writers.

Re. the query letter/cover letter: It varies from agency to agency whether they want a "cover letter" like the one shown above or a more American-style query letter. Generally this information is on their website (if they have one) or in the Writers & Artists Yearbook (a must-purchase if you are submitting to the UK). If they don't mention it, a good rule of thumb is: electronic submission - query letter; snail mail submission - cover letter.

If it's a cover letter, it's less about the book, and more about you, the genesis of your idea and your background (kind of like an extended bio-section). If it's a query letter, it's the American-style query letter you are familiar with.

With a cover letter submission, a lot of weight is put on the synopsis (more so, I would guess, than American agents may put on it). I have heard many UK agents comment that the cover letter is barely read, and the synopsis decides for them whether they go any further (read the submitted pages/request pages).

Also, with a cover letter submission, standard is a synopsis plus the first three chapters/first fifty pages, although this too varies from agency to agency.

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