All About Queries to VKA

Before you send us a query, it is well worth your time to read the following content carefully. Following the guidance here will reduce the odds that your query ends up being rejected or bounced. Details on when and how to actually submit your query are found at the bottom of this page.

Briefly: What we're looking for in a query

First thing: You're going to send your query to the very people you want to look at, and be impressed with, your manuscript. The people you are trying to convince to pitch it to the actual publishing industry on your behalf. The people who routinely see the very best from some pretty amazing authors. That's exactly who we are and what we do. We represent amazing authors. In fact, we only represent amazing authors.

So. What you need to do is prepare your query email with at least as much care and skill as you put into your magnum opus. Pay just as much attention to the grammar, spelling, pacing and so on in your query.

Queries are exclusively submitted using email. The query letter must consist of normal text in the body of the email: the query letter portion of the submission must not be contained within an attachment, or the email will be rejected. Sample pages should be:

  1. Included as additional text below the query content of the query letter itself (preferred), or...
  2. Attached to the query email as a text file.

Make sure you provide an email address where we can contact you. If our replies end up in a spam folder, you could easily miss the opportunity of a lifetime. Likewise, if you use an email from a provider where you don't regularly check for responses, that too can lead to missed opportunities.

There are some basic requirements for any query. The work you are querying must:
  • Be complete: queries for incomplete or as-yet-unwritten works will not be accepted.
  • Not have been self-published (Kindle, iBooks, on a website, etc.)
  • Have rights available: and you must presently own these rights.

Next, don't go long. Make your query one page-ish. Within that constraint, use your writing skills to get the following across to us:

  • A brief synopsis of the plot of the work
  • The length of the work in words
  • What genre you believe the work falls into
  • Any publications of yours that are not self-publications
  • Any other writing experience
  • Samples of published author's names you feel write in a style similar to yours
  • Any related workshops you have attended, etc.
  • Any publicity venues worthy of note, such as an author's web site
  • Any awards you have won
  • Any significant endorsements you have collected
  • Any co-authors, current or past, we may be familiar with
  • How we can email you without ending up in a "spam" folder
  • Include as text below your query letter (preferred) or attach to the query a text file sample of your work

Don't worry about us taking it badly if you have to tell us "I have none of that" for any of the above bullet points. Tell us anyway: it's important that we know. We're considerably more likely to reject your query because you didn't cover those points than we are to reject it because of a lack of experience or accomplishments.

Further, you need to work the above list in such a way as to seriously impress us within the context of the query letter itself. Every word in your query matters, as does its grammar, spelling, structure and content. Make us enjoy your query letter. You're a writer... so write!

Some things to avoid in the query letter itself:
  • Don't use tiny fonts — if it's not readable, it won't be read
  • Don't use colored or low-contrast text — use all black text on white, all the time
  • Don't incorporate pictures, video, animations or other non-text content
  • Don't send us fixed width queries:
    • Any assumption that other people's reading environments will look and act like yours is wrong
    • Use natural word wrap only — if you don't know what that is, go find out.
    • Test your word wrap by adjusting window width before you send your query. For example:
      • Adjust the width of your web browser window now. Observe how the word wrap changes in all the paragraphs on this page. That's exactly how your query letter should act within an email client. Test your email by sending it to yourself and then changing the width of your email client.
  • Don't submit PDFs, Word files, etc. with queries. Ever. Use plain text format for your sample.
    When we want a word processor document, we'll ask for one. Which is never in a query letter.
  • No Scripting (javascript, etc.): This will cause your email to be instantly thrown out

Dictation, grammar- and spell-checking software can all introduce problems. Spell-checking software does not pick up errors when those errors are the wrong word, spelled correctly. It is also far too easy to select the wrong word to replace a word the spell-checking software has highlighted for you. Your intention is, of course, to type or dictate the correct word, but — particularly in the case of dictation software — if a homonym is available, it can end up in your manuscript.

Remember: if the query isn't well written, it's over. Take your time, don't just dash it out; a very high quality query letter is a critical step in the process of obtaining representation.

Queries and submissions should not be sent out to an agency or an editor without a thorough reading, not only by yourself but (at least) a first reader and even better, a second reader as well.

Next, for all email submissions provide just a few pages of the work you are asking us to represent as additional text after the query letter portion of the email, or as a text attachment to the query email. They don't have to be the first pages, either. Something you think will catch our interest. Attachments, if present, should be in plain text form. Send this to us with the query; don't wait for us to ask. Queries without samples of the work will be rejected.

If your query is well written, your use of English flawless, your spelling without error, your query letter and writing sample formatting show that you know what you're doing on the technical end, and the query letter's coverage of your subject matter is compelling, we will look at the sample, attachment or printout. What we find there will most definitely count towards whether we develop an interest in your work. But if you've presented less than a stellar effort on any of these points, again: it's over.

When you submit, you need to understand that we get a lot of queries. A lot. This means that there exists a long line of hopefuls ahead of you who got their work to us first. The only way we can be fair is to examine each submission in the same order it came to our attention. So be patient. Craft your query with as much loving care as you can muster, send it along, and then... find something else to do and try to forget you sent it. If your work is really good, you may be assured you will hear from us, as we'll be wanting to see the whole thing. Which will then call for another period of patience.

Finally, when we reject a query, you'll hear from us: we'll send an email. If you submit and don't get a reply within just a few business days, that means we didn't reject your query based on the query letter itself. At this point, the sample material submitted will (eventually) be read. Most queries don't get this far; so lack of an immediate reply is itself a bit of good news.

Hopefully you're getting a feeling for the process now. Nearly every step for a work that is destined to go forward typically involves waiting — and then waiting some more. Waiting for the query process to produce results, working through any changes required, waiting for submissions to publishers, waiting for actual publication, and then waiting for the book to earn.

We wish you the best of luck.

Querying the Virginia Kidd Agency

Queries are closed from July 3rd through July 17th. Queries submitted during this period will not be accepted.

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