What an Agent Really Thinks While Reading Queries, Parts 1-3: A Query-A-Thon with Literary Agents Kate McKean & Jim McCarthy Video Download

What an Agent Really Thinks While Reading Queries, Parts 1-3: A Query-A-Thon with Literary Agents Kate McKean & Jim McCarthy Video Download

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This 211 minute video presentation combines three webinars presented by Literary Agents Kate McKean and Jim McCarthy into one:

What an Agent Really Thinks While Reading Queries, Part I

What an Agent Really Thinks While Reading Queries, Part II

What an Agent Really Thinks While Reading Queries, Part III

In one recording, you'll receive all of the instruction from Kate and Jim on how to write a query letter for fiction and nonfiction, as well as the queries critiqued live during all three webinars and the Q & A that was recorded during each webinar. This presentation contains 25 query letter critiques from a variety of categories and genres including Young Adult, Memoir, Science Fiction, Fantasy, etc.


  • You're interested in how the query process works
  • You are currently composing a novel and want to make sure your work gets read
  • You've been rejected by agents and editors, and want to evaluate why your query didn't make the cut
  • You're intimidated by writing queries or by literary agents


Admit it: when you imagine what happens to your query after you send it to an agent, a small part of you expects that they will forward it to an intern. Or laugh maniacally as they put it in a folder marked "Do Not Reply." Or toss a two-headed coin to make their decision to pass or play.

The reality is less nefarious but likely no less interesting. In this presentation, Kate and Jim peeked behind the curtain and let you watch exactly what happens when an agent considers your query. Working from the submissions they received (all queries will be anonymized), participants had the chance to read along with them as they decide whether to stop reading or carry on. You'll see the exact moment in query letters that each perks up or passes. Think of it like American Idol: Query Edition. Along the way, you'll garner helpful tips on what to avoid as you write your own query, how to stand out from the pack (in a good way), and what goes on in an agent's mind as they consider your material.

Both Kate and Jim read all of their own submissions, which works out to hundreds of queries every month. Each signs on only about 1% of what they see. So how do you clear the gauntlet? Why aren't agents requesting your material? And what can you do about it? In this kind (but honest) presentation, you'll finally have a chance to see exactly what you're up against.


  • What exactly goes through an agent's mind as they read your query
  • How to avoid common pitfalls in query writing
  • Cliches and phrases to avoid when writing about your work
  • The exact point at which agents stop reading queries, and why
  • How to win an agent over as simply and cleanly as possible


Kate McKean is a literary agent at the Howard Morhaim Literary Agency in Brooklyn, NY, where she has worked for over seven years. She earned her Master's in Fiction Writing at the University of Southern Mississippi, and enjoys both the creative and business aspects of her job. Her clients include Madeleine Roux's New York Times bestselling YA novel ASYLUM, and New York Times bestselling humor book I Can Has Cheezburger. She is most interested in contemporary women's fiction, middle grade and young adult fiction.

Jim McCarthy is Vice President and literary agent at Dystel & Goderich Literary Management in New York, NY. He has been with the agency for 14 years, initially starting as an intern way back in the '90s. He represents a wide range of fiction, adult and young adult, commercial and literary. He is also seeking narrative nonfiction, particularly memoir, history, and pop culture. His clients include New York Times bestsellers Richelle Mead, Victoria Laurie, Alyssa Day, and Morgan Rhodes.

NOTE: Writer's Digest does not offer refunds for OnDemand Webinars. All sales are final. OnDemand Webinars do NOT include a critique.

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