As my inbox overflows with queries, I wonder if some folks are hitting send a little too quickly. So I’m sharing some advice for the queries that haven’t yet been sent. After all, the goal is to find the person who’ll champion you and your work for years to come.

Most writers are going to send out a lot of queries, and you probably will, but you shouldn’t send them blindly. “Do your research”—this is a phrase you’ve heard and will continue to hear more than you’d ever want to, I’m sure—because it can make the difference between an immediate form rejection and reaching an agent who’s dying to read what you’ve written. There is some great information in books and on the web, but your best bet is always to double-check an agency’s website for the most up-to-date roster of agents and submission info. First of all, you’ll want to be sure that the agents you query represent the kind of book you’ve written. If your resource tells you that an agent is seeking women’s fiction and mystery, for example, but you’ve written urban fantasy or horror or science fiction, then that agent is probably not a good fit. They say they don’t want paranormal? What is paranormal anyway? These are things you have to know before you submit, or else you’re just setting yourself up for rejection. Second, are they open to submissions? Agents often close to submissions for a period of time, so to submit while they are closed would be a poor use of your time and energy. How would you know? The agent may have announced it on Twitter and/or on their agency website. I suggest that you visit the agent’s website before querying for a number of reasons. Check out their bio. Are they seeking what you’ve written? Does their bio resonate with you somehow? Agents often list their favorite books or books they have worked on. They might list personal details or preferences that will provide a point of connection to your manuscript. An agent’s bio is a great tool for you as a writer. If you’re not seeing anything there that you click with or that speaks to you, you may want to move on. Remember, you don’t just want an agent; you want the best agent for your work.

ProTip: The best agent for you will not only love your work and want to represent it, but will have a working style that meshes well with your own. Some agents are more hands-on than others. Do you want an agent who nurtures? Or one who is a little more reserved? Do you hope to be represented by a huge agency, or a smaller one? Think about what you need from that working relationship when you’re sending out queries, and when you get an offer of representation.

Want more advice? Check out my Short Fuse Guide to Query Letters at Amazon or Smashwords.