I often see a lot of confusion from authors regarding referrals and I see them used wrong all the time in queries. The query software I use has a box for referrals and I think that makes authors feel pressured to provide one. I often find myself considering getting rid of it because the majority of people who use the referral box do so incorrectly, making it kind of useless to me. My original intent was to use it to bring actual referrals to my attention quicker, but that hasn’t worked. So let’s cover referrals, what they are, how to use them, and what to avoid.
While some agents may hold different opinions, when it comes to referrals I want them to be from someone who actually knows me. Someone whose name I will recognize instead of going “who?” This generally means clients and other agents or editors I’ve worked with or any other publishing professionals I’ve met personally. Sometimes If I meet an author via an event I might ask them to include that even in the referral box to remind myself of where I requested from. Referrals are also different from someone simply suggesting you query me. Referrals are rare, which is what gives them more sway, but they don’t necessarily increase your odds of getting an offer. The writing itself is what I will make my decision on with or without a referral. Plus referrals give me higher expectations going into the query and sample compared to the average query and that can be hard to meet. Continue reading “Referrals”