Frequently Asked Questions
I’ve seen different definitions for “query letter” and it can get confusing! What does a query ideally look like to you? This is true, there are many competing and conflicting formats, but some resources are more reliable than others. We recommend the Poets & Writers website as a terrific starting place for the entire query process, including how to compose a letter that meets most agency standards (including our own). While you’re at it, a subscription to their print magazine is a very smart idea, and full of helpful articles and essays about both craft and the industry. Another trusted resource is Writer’s Digest and they too have a comprehensive query writing tutorial.
What’s the difference between a pitch and a synopsis? Can I send a synopsis instead of a pitch? A pitch is an enticing description of the project that leaves some questions unanswered, while providing enough information to make a reader connect and engage. The goal is to invite a stranger into the content, without delivering every last detail; leave us wanting more. A synopsis takes the reader beat by beat into the narrative of the project, avoiding micro-details but supplying a full picture of what the longer version would be like. We strongly prefer pitches, as they use the time more efficiently and are in general a better indicator of our potential interest in your project.
You’ve all been clear about what you like. Are there any categories that are NOT handled by The Friedrich Agency? There are almost always exceptions, and even when we aren’t actively seeking a category, sometimes the combination of our personal interests and the perfect moment means that we’ll step outside our specialty and take on something wildly different. That said, the following genres are almost never pursued at the submission stage: picture books (anything for an audience younger than middle grade), screenplays, cookbooks, self-help/advice books, poetry, romance/erotica, novelty books (such as joke books, parodies, etc).
It says that you handle “Film Rights” but you don’t handle screenplays. What’s the difference? Our primary job is to sell books and book proposals to print publishers on behalf of our clients, but it is typical in print publishing agreements for the author to retain Performance Rights, which encompasses Film, TV, and Theatrical adaptations. As such, we assist in the process of selling those rights on the author’s behalf in a separate process, wherein we partner with LA-based co-agents who specialize in literary adaptations for the screen and stage. We can only provide this service for authors whose projects we represent for print publishing. We do NOT sell screenplays.
What other rights does The Friedrich Agency handle? In addition to print publishing and Performance Rights, we also handle Foreign Rights, Audio Rights, First Serial Rights, and Permissions for extracts of the underlying print work in circumstances when those rights aren’t included in the publishing deal.
If my book is already published, but I retain other sub-rights, can you represent me for just those rights? Unfortunately, we cannot handle any subsidiary rights (all of the rights listed above) unless we are also handling the print publishing rights to the project.
Anything prospective authors should avoid doing in their queries? Simple and respectful goes a long way with us. Try to avoid relying on gimmicks (hard-to-read fonts, glossy air-brushed headshots, etc) or immodest literary comparisons and just let your passion for your work set the tone. Using a snarky, borderline insulting tone to get our attention always results in an immediate form reply in decline of the chance to read further. It may seem like a good tactic to stand out, but it isn’t.
How long should I wait to hear a reply? We do our absolute best to attend to queries in a timely way. We typically sift through queries and, if interested, request material within a month, but we are often much faster, or sometimes a bit slower if it’s a particularly hectic time. Once we request a manuscript, we always do our best to get back to the author with our thoughts within a few weeks. Check out our Submission Guidelines for more info.
Do your agents ever read a manuscript for the second time, if the author completes edits using your feedback? Yes! This happens often—sometimes we read a submission and we fall in love with it but have significant editorial concerns, which would need to be addressed before we can confidently offer representation. When this happens, we will always be very clear about what we’re missing from the read and what we hope the author will be game to consider. Sometimes future drafts result in representation, and sometimes the author/agent visions don’t align. However! We typically offer some kind of critical feedback even when we aren’t offering to read a future draft—we feel that if we’ve read a significant portion of the work and have something specific to offer the author, this feedback is usually helpful in some way so we try to articulate it when we pass. Unless we have been explicit about wanting to read a revision, this feedback isn’t an invitation to send the manuscript in a future draft, so any revisions that the author chooses to do should be for the author’s general purposes.
It’s so hard to condense everything special about my book into a one-page query letter. Can’t I just paste my first ten pages into an email? My writing speaks for itself. It really IS hard; we struggle through the pitch process ourselves sometimes, and not every project naturally lends itself to the snapshot that this process demands. But just as a reader must make fairly quick decisions when walking through a bookstore filled with more books than can be read in a lifetime, we need to be able to know enough to make reasonable reading commitments. Besides, learning to pitch your book is an essential discipline to cultivate as a writer! We don’t recommend that you paste your first ten pages in lieu of a query letter—it’s a lot harder to form a connection to prose without having one’s appetite whet in advance. The query approach gives each writer their best chance, and helps us get back to you all in a respectful timeframe. Like any match-making process, it’s far from perfect! We look forward to hearing from you.