Looking back over everything the 2014 agents had to say, here are a few general points that are worth remembering when you query.
1) Always follow the agency/agent specific guidelines. This seems obvious, but browse through #tenqueries on Twitter and it's soon clear that many authors don't do this. Avoid a guaranteed and instant rejection by giving the agent in question exactly what they want - nothing more, nothing less.
2) Be specific in your query. Avoid generalities and cliche when describing the conflict and stakes for your character. The more specific you can be, the better. Vagueness in a query is not going to get you a request for pages or a full.
3) Voice. Make sure that great voice in your ms comes through in the query. That doesn't mean writing in the perspective of the main character, but it does mean making sure your word choice and turns of phrase in the query reflect the tone of your story and personality of your protagonist.
4) Don't preach. Your query should focus on your story, not why you wrote the book and the lessons readers will learn from reading it.
5) Don't oversell it. Let the story engage the agent and entice them to read more. If you start saying how your book is the next Hunger Games or Harry Potter, or that it'll definitely secure a six-figure advance, chances are you'll end up with a swift rejection.
Remember these 5 points when querying and you'll have a much better shot at getting a positive response from agents. Also remember that this is all highly subjective and what one agent might love another might hate. You won't be able to please everyone. Focus instead on writing the best book you can and representing that book with the best query you can write too. Do your research, follow submission guidelines, and learn as much as you can from agent responses.
If you've been querying this year and have a success story you'd like to share with us about querying one of our featured agents or others, please let us know! We'd love to hear from you!