Query.Sign.Submit. with Tina Wexler

Tina Wexler Literary Agent

Tina represents Middle Grade and Young Adult fiction and nonfiction, and Adult nonfiction.

“I do respond to all queries, so no response means I’ve either not received the query (stupid SPAM filter) or I haven’t read it yet. Queriers are free to follow up if they haven’t heard from me within four weeks.”

To connect with and learn more about Tina . . .

Agent Query

literary agent and author  Now for Tina’s insight on querying, signing with an agent, and going on submission!


What advice would you give to querying writers?

Do your research. As a writer seeking publication, you’ll have to learn how to handle rejection. But there’s no need to suffer needless rejection by sending your query to agents who don’t represent what you’re writing. Stack the deck in your favor. Find out what agents are looking for and only query those agents who have expressed an interest in the type of book you’ve written. Follow agents on Twitter, read the acknowledgement pages in the books that mirror—in style, content, and tone—the manuscript you’re querying. Subscribe to Publishers Marketplace so you can view agent deal listings. Visit writersdigest.com. Read interviews. (Hey, you’re reading this one. You listened!)

What WOWs you in a query?

A working knowledge of the querying process and familiarity with some of my clients’ books: wow. A unique idea expressed well, in 200 words or less, and in a category I represent: double wow. Sample pages that deliver: WOW WOW WOW.

Do you always read a query all the way through? If not, what would make you stop reading?

No, I don’t, which is why it’s important to say up front if you’re a referral and from whom, or if you’re someone I asked to query me and where/when we met. Given the number of queries I receive daily, I’d actually advise putting that info in the subject line of your email so it grabs my attention right away. “Subject: Query, referral from [Author/Editor/Agent/Scout].” But back to what makes me stop reading:

I stop reading for several reasons: 1) Dear Agent. 2) I’ve written an erotic fiction novel. 3) It’s going to be a bestseller. 4) It’s about [insert nonsensical/derivative plot description here.] 5) Actually, it’s too complicated to summarize. Just trust me when I say you’ll want to read it. 6) You can find sample pages if you follow this link [that won’t work.] 7) If you don’t ask to read my book, that’s fine. I don’t think I want an agent anyway.

I’ve found variations of all of these in my inbox, and they make for an easy pass.

What are some important things for querying writers to consider when researching agents?

Consider the sideways submission. What does that mean? I don’t really know, as I just made it up now. But I think what I’m trying to say is that queriers should look at what an agent has represented and see how their manuscript sits beside those books, what conversations they would have. I get a lot of “You represent Gina Damico’s CROAK and so I thought you’d enjoy my grim reaper YA.” Well, now, that may be true that I’d enjoy it, but I won’t represent it, as I already have Gina’s grim reaper YA series. I’m not going to risk cannibalizing ICM’s resources for that book in order to promote another one. So think sideways. If I fell in love with Skila Brown’s CAMINAR, a heartbreaking yet inspiring MG novel in verse about a boy living in Guatemala during the 80s, maybe I’d like your literary YA novel about a girl who’s first generation American, who…


Do you sign a client as a career agent or on a book-by-book basis?

ICM’s agency agreement is book-by-book, which favors the author, but the commitment is to the author’s whole career, which favors everyone.

How editorial are you?


How do you put together a list of editors to send to?

I know I want to sign an author when I’m reading their manuscript and the names of editors who MUST read it start coming to me. Those are usually the first names that go on my submission list and stick. Next, I’ll scroll through Publishers Marketplace to confirm that those editors haven’t bought anything too similar since I last talked to him or her. I’ll think back on lunches/drinks/coffees/phone chats I’ve had with editors so I may recall who mentioned wanting something like the manuscript I’m about to shop. I’ll write out a list of all the houses I want to submit to and make sure I’ve got someone at each one, checking my notes (yes, I have notes on you, editors) to see if there’s a reason to send to one editor over another. I’ll talk to my colleagues about who they like at XYZ imprint if I’m debating between two editors. And, in some instances, depending on the author’s level of involvement in the industry, I’ll discuss editors with the author, though I don’t in any way rely on my authors to come up with their submission lists.

How do you get to know editors and what they’re looking for?

Over breakfasts, lunches, coffee, and drinks. At conferences and parties. Through email and phone calls. Via Twitter, Facebook, PW and Pub Lunch deal announcements. According to the books or galleys they send me in the mail, and through the books and galleys I read and see they edited when I check the acknowledgements.


Do you forward editor feedback to writers?

Before we start the submission process, I’ll ask my client whether they want to see the editors’ responses as they come in, at the end all together, only if it’s relevant/editorially specific, or ever. The choice is theirs, and I respect that choice, whatever it is.

What kind of feedback or response do you hope for after sending a manuscript to an editor? A book deal, of course, but what kind of feedback is a good sign?

Unbridled enthusiasm for the material along with a smart understanding of how the editor would position the book in house and a clear sense of the kind of editorial work needed to bring about the best version of the author’s vision. Calling to say, “Holy shit. This is awesome.” may also prove sufficient.

What do you suggest a writer does while out on submission?

Adopt a kitten. They are the perfect distraction.

Is it okay for a client to check in if there hasn’t been any news in a while?

It is always okay for a client to check in.

Thank you, Tina!

See other Query. Sign. Submit. interviews
Read inspiring stories of writers getting agents
Find out about agent-judged contests

Posted August, 2013 – Always check for current info and guidelines.


  1. Great advice! Thanks for the interview!

  2. Dee, this is an awesome series. And LOL about the editor's response Tina hopes for. :D

  3. Thank you for interview! Very insightful. ;D


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