Using #MSWL to Personalize Your Query

Hello, Fair Pub Crawlers, and Happy #MSWL Day! Today, in honor of #MSWL Day (head over to twitter for a running feed of what agents are looking for), I’d like to talk about some do’s and don’ts of using Manuscript Wishlist (#MSWL) to personalize your query.

Manuscript Wishlist has been, largely, a blessing for agents (and some editors!). What a joy to be able to cite specific ideas that come to mind, and to have a place to narrow down what I’m looking for for writers! I have signed writers who might never have looked twice at me if I hadn’t tweeted a #MSWL that matched their book exactly.

So, please DO: Cite a specific #MSWL in your subject line and query, if your story honestly, truly matches what I’ve asked for!

Please DON’T: Cite #MSWL in your query and subject line if your story doesn’t actually match what I’ve asked for. I know this seems like a no-brainer, but I think there is an impulse to try and make a story fit. I totally understand getting excited about finding an agent who seems to be looking for stories that, at least somewhat, match what you have. But if I’ve tweeted about wanting contemporary STEM middle grade, and your book has STEM themes but is technically YA science fiction, then you’re not actually fulfilling my #MSWL, so using that tweet as a comparison feels, to me, disingenuous.

However, please DO: Let me know if your story matches various elements of my #MSWL feed as whole, even if it doesn’t match a specific tweet or request from #MSWL is a wonderful tool – but there is no way I can know, or specify, every type of story I’d love to see. I often don’t know I’m craving a certain story until it lands in my inbox. If you’ve perused my MSWL and don’t see that I’ve asked for a specific story, but you’ve noticed several themes that line up with your work, then let me know! I like to hear that something in what I’m looking for has spoken to you.

Please DON’T: Cite #MSWL in your subject line and query, then tell me that you like my #MSWL, and you think we have a similar temperament and that we’d work great together, but your book does not fall in any of the categories I represent. Okay, okay, I know you know not to do this. But I also know how exciting it is to find an agent with whom you seem to have a lot in common, even if they’re not looking for nor represent the kind of book you have. But letting me believe that you have a story that fulfills something on my MSWL when you don’t, leaves a bad taste in my mouth.

Please DO: Have fun! #MSWL is, above all, a tool. Not every story will fit every #MSWL, and that’s okay. It’s a jumping off point – even if you don’t have something that fits what an agent is specifically asking for in a #MSWL tweet, you might have something else they want, and that is just as good.

I hope this has been helpful, and enjoy #MSWL Day!



One Response to Using #MSWL to Personalize Your Query

  1. Andy Jewett Jun 21 2017 at 5:59 am #

    Thank you for writing/sharing this, very interesting.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.