We like our unsolicited queries to be concise, well-written and well-proofed, and as devoid of gimmicks as possible. Tell us who you are (past writing credits or celebrity status is helpful to know about but not mandatory), what your project is (a summary paragraph is good), and whether you have submitted this project to the entire publishing community already.
In order to get your foot in the door remember that appearances count. We don’t like our names misspelled. We don’t like a lot of typos in general. We don’t like generic “Dear Agent” letters, but we don’t like overly chummy greetings, either. Photographs generally don’t help—unless you’re George Clooney. Plain and simple works best for us. Don’t try to convince us that you’ve written the next Atonement… we’ve heard that one before. Let your project speak for itself.
We prefer email queries, as most do nowadays, so please make sure your cover letter is in the body of the email. Synopses, outlines or sample chapters (say, one chapter or the first 25 pages of your manuscript) should either be included below the cover letter or attached as a separate document. We won’t open attachments if they come with a blank email, by the way.
Please do double space your samples for reading that’s easy on the eyes!
If computers aren’t your forte, we do still accept queries via snail mail (sent to the appropriate agent’s attention at Dystel & Goderich Literary Management, One Union Square West, Suite 904, New York, NY 10003). Please enclose the requisite letter and sample with a self-addressed stamped envelope for our response. Do type all of your correspondence and, again, double space everything other than the cover letter. Please be sure to query only one agent at this agency. We will not review queries sent to more than one of us.
Be patient with us. Remember, we get a great many queries every day and we do read them all. This takes time. We will respond to most query letters within a six to eight week period. If you don’t hear from us within that time frame, chances are we did not receive yours. Feel free to resend it.
Once we request the full proposal or manuscript, again be patient. Do not call or e-mail us daily trying to ascertain where we are in the process. We will definitely get back to you one way or another. If you do not hear from us within two months’ time, you should check in and make sure we’ve received your materials. If we did not, please resend.
You should know that we are not legally responsible for your materials, even if you did send an SASE. Unfortunately, sometimes accidents happen — either on our end, or with our overzealous spam filter, or with the U.S. Post Office. We will try to return everything that belongs to you, but if we fail, please don’t take it personally or call and harass our staff. We really do care about everything that is submitted to us and would not deliberately lose or damage it.
Our goal is to make this process as painless as possible, but we do need your help. The above guidelines will make us better able to respond to you in a timely and thoughtful manner. We look forward to hearing from you.