Ali Herring


Assistant Literary Agent, Spencerhill Associates. Twin mom +1. Eclectic in life & books. I♥️Jane Austen & SFF in equal doses. Query me:

Metro Atlanta

Spencerhill Associates

Ali Herring @HerringAli · Feb 12

FYI, if you're pitching YA fantasy, be sure to include the time period (YA historical or YA contemporary). Sometimes we're looking for one but not the other, sometimes both. #querytip

Ali Herring @HerringAli · Jan 15

Subbing to editors AND querying agents is a lot like fishing! Fishing with the right kind of bait is key (the high-quality stuff, ie great writing) and of course making sure you have lots of good hooks (in your writing)! Next, you have to learn how to cast (or query) #querytip #1

Ali Herring @HerringAli · 6 Sep 2019

While you’re querying one project, write something different. Write something new. Keep learning and practicing your craft. Don’t ever become satisfied. Stay hungry. You want to be a writer? That’s what writers do. Even published ones.
#WritersLife #querytip

Ali Herring @HerringAli · 6 Aug 2019

1st sentences matter! I can tell A LOT from the 1st few sentences of a manuscript. I love analogies, so for me it’s like meeting someone for the first time. Do I get a firm or soft handshake, a coy look, a confident stare, work-worn or soft hands, somewhere in between. #querytip

Ali Herring @HerringAli · 22 Jul 2019

Always include plot & stakes in your query letter. You can be the nicest person on earth in your intro, but I still have to know 1-what your novel’s basic hook & plot are & 2-what’s at stake for your characters & their world. I don’t have time to search for it! Auto no. #querytip

Ali Herring @HerringAli · 20 Jul 2019

The longer I agent, the longer I realize the query is a promise. When you make a promise to someone, it’s usually important, there’s something behind it that matters. When you FULFILL that promise, good things happen. #querytip #writetip

Ali Herring @HerringAli · 10 May 2019

I have to say this about attempting to read 300+ queries in a row: The people who boil down their plot to 'book jacket' status are currently my favs. #querytip Remember, agents are usually sitting down to read lots of queries, not just your one so stand out being short & sweet.

Ali Herring @HerringAli · 4 Jan 2019

Important #querytip. When the agent you queried has 100s of queries to answer, & your query doesn't state what the plot is or what the stakes are, it's an auto pass from me. That's kind of difficult to swallow & I hate to do it, but I don't have time to dig for it at that point.

Ali Herring @HerringAli · 3 Dec 2018

K.M. Weiland @KMWeiland

The opening line of your book is your first (and, if you don’t take advantage of it, last) opportunity to grab readers' attention and give them a reason to read your story. #writetip

This is true of the agents you will query too. With hundreds of queries to read through, and hundreds of samples to dive into, the opening line speaks volumes about you and what you’re capable of in the next 60 (give or take a few!) thousand words #querytip. So make those count!

Ali Herring @HerringAli · 22 Oct 2018

#querytip. Clarifying an earlier tweet: When you query an agent, it’s best to only submit one manuscript for consideration in that email. Don’t query every manuscript you’ve ever written or even just two. Pick ONE manuscript to focus on in that submission.

Ali Herring @HerringAli · 11 Oct 2018

Jessica Faust @BookEndsJessica

Think of your query blurb as the back cover copy of your future book. In fact, knowing that it might actually be used as the basis for your actual cover copy might help you understand its importance. #querytip

This is a fantastic #querytip. Read lots of book jackets—especially from sales comparables that could be on the same shelf as your MS. Your query is as much a sales pitch as that book jacket copy. Googling Goodreads + keywords is a great way to find comps. Put comps on query too!

Ali Herring @HerringAli · 18 Sep 2018

#WriteTip #QueryTip Be sure to balance your dialog with sufficient narration & action beats. Dialog & action beats without narration is like someone serving me dry toast without butter. Narration brings forward the internal part of the story, the part most of us gravitate toward.

Ali Herring @HerringAli · 4 Sep 2018

#querytip Please in query ONE project at a time.

Ali Herring @HerringAli · 14 Aug 2018

Biggest issue I see in my queries today: Lots of stories on sub that just follow the meandering path of a typical person's life. Sure, there may be some moral lesson there, but I'm looking for a conflict or story problem to drive the plot. #querytip #writetip

Ali Herring @HerringAli · 24 Jul 2018

#querytip The act of CHOOSING to ask for a full from the query pile is a big deal. It's an investment in time & a lot of hope on the agent's part for a match. We often LIKE more than we ask for. Our lists can only be so big. So make sure those 1st pages sing, & your query rocks!

Ali Herring @HerringAli · 8 Jun 2018

I'm seeing lots of great hooks right now in queries. A great hook is a fantastic start, so kudos, writers! For those who want help in that department, one of my favorite craft books for creating marketable premises is @DonMaass Writing the Breakout Novel. #querytip #writetip

Ali Herring @HerringAli · 4 Jun 2018

I keep seeing YA's with MG word counts, and MGs with YA word counts.#querytip #writetip Know your audience and understand publisher expectations for word count based on genre/age group.

Ali Herring @HerringAli · 19 May 2018

Why do agents like comp titles in queries? It helps us know where your book could be “shelved” or that something “comparable” has sold. Publishers don’t usually make new shelves. Also, tells us who might like your work, so that you’ve got a segment of potential readers. #querytip

Ali Herring @HerringAli · 14 May 2018

#QueryTip When querying an agent who uses an online form. In the query field: give me a full query letter (genre, word count, plot outline, hook, author bio, comps, why you queried). The synopsis field is not the place to tell me plot + hook. That's for a legit 1-3 page synopsis!

Ali Herring @HerringAli · 9 May 2018

Follow up to my earlier #querytip #writetip: WHY ARE STAKES IMPORTANT? B/c they give readers a reason to care about 1-what happens to the protagonist 2-what happens to the protagonist's group/world, or 3-the internal, seeing the protagonist's convictions/motivations tested.