Episode 72: How to Write a Killer Query – Interview with Janet Reid

by Gabriela Pereira
published in Podcast

Hey there word nerds!

Thanks for joining me today for DIY MFA Radio. I’m so excited to share this episode because I’m interviewing literary agent Janet Reid, AKA the Query Shark.

*Cue music from Jaws in 3… 2… 1…*

Janet is a literary agent at FinePrint Literary Management in NYC, where she represents mostly crime novels and thrillers, with some narrative non-fiction in history and biography as well.

Her list of clients reads as a veritable who’s-who of bestselling authors, but if that wasn’t enough Janet also dedicates a lot of her time helping new writers learn about publishing by speaking at conferences and sharing valuable insights via not one but two blogs.

When she’s not doing busy being an agent, she blogs at JetReidLiterary.blogspot.com, where she answers questions from writers, talks about what she loves about her job and the city, and (occasionally) rants about things that drive her crazy in publishing.

Janet also runs the Query Shark blog, where she posts and critiques query letters submitted to “the shark” (with permission from the writers, of course). Writers have the opportunity to revise their queries based on her comments, and you can see the step-by-step revisions that took a query letter from “meh” to a resounding “YES.” Want to know what an agent really thinks about a query letter? The Query Shark blog will give you that inside look. IMHO, this site is hands-down the most valuable query resource available to writers online.

Most importantly, Janet is a kind, sensible human being who helped make the publishing world a slightly less scary place for me, when I was a bright-eyed, bushy-tailed newbie writer. It is truly an honor to have Janet Reid, AKA Mme. Shark, on DIY MFA Radio today.

In this episode Janet and I discuss:

  • What inspired the Query Shark blog.
  • What a query letter is and why you need one.
  • Query pitfalls and pointers so you can make yours shine.
  • What happens after your query gets accepted.
  • When persistence pays off and when it doesn’t.

Plus, Janet’s #1 tip for writers.

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Resources:

To learn about Janet, follow her on Facebook and Twitter, or visit her literary agency blog or her website. You can also find her query-related pearls of wisdom on her Query Shark blog. For more information about FinePrint Literary Management visit their website.

Link to Episode 70

(Right-click to download.)

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Until next week, keep writing and keep being awesome.

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  • Teri Mirtz

    Janet Reid might be cold and calculative but the most intelligent women are historically made to feel less than they are so others might feel bigger. I would describe her as caring and intellectual because not many agents send out a reply to our quires. Janet takes the time to try and fix them.

    • DIYMFA

      Agreed! To this day, I feel so grateful that she was one of the first agents I ever interacted with in this industry. The fact that she takes the time to run the Query Shark blog is a testament to how much she cares about help writers improve themselves.

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