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Literary agents Debbie Carter, Josh Getzler, Victoria Skurnick and Jenny Bent discuss the all-important query letter: How many queries do you generally receive in a week? Of those, how many do you request a partial or full from? What is it about a good query that really makes it stand out? Conversely, what is most likely to make you stop reading? You won’t want to miss it!

Debbie Carter grew up in Connecticut, dreaming the whole time of an exciting life in NYC. She left town when she was seventeen to go to college in the city and pursue dream jobs—in A&R at record companies, music publishing, in artist management, and a literary agency. In ‘98 she started Mysterious Content Agency, renamed Muse Literary, to initiate her own book projects with new writers. For interests see Follow @MuseLiterary.

Josh Getzler left Harcourt in 1993 to get an MBA from Columbia Business School. After Business School, Josh spent 11 years owning and operating a minor league baseball team (the Staten Island Yankees). He left baseball in late 2006 and rejoined the book world on the agent side. Josh worked at Writers House until November 2009, building a list of novelists, YA and children’s book authors, and the occasional nonfiction writer; then joined Russell and Volkening. Josh represents fiction and nonfiction (mostly fiction, much of which is crime-related (mystery, thriller, creepy…)), adult and YA/middle-grade books (though not picture books). He is particularly into foreign and historical thrillers and mysteries, so send your ruthless doges and impious cardinals…and your farmhouse cozies! Give him atmosphere, let him learn something about another time or another place (or both), and kill off nasty Uncle Mortimer in the process—Josh will be yours! For more information on Josh’s most recent sales, please see his Publishers Marketplace profile. Josh also tweets under @jgetzler.

Victoria Skurnick came to Levine Greenberg after being at The Book-of-the Month Club for almost twenty years.  As Editor-in-Chief, she relished the opportunity to devour every kind of book, from the finest literary fiction to Yiddish for Dogs.  Anne Tyler, John LeCarre, Amy Tan, Tom Wolfe, Stephen King, Michael Lewis, Lee Child, Roddy Doyle, Alice Sebold, Tracy Kidder, Julia Child and Susan Elizabeth Phillips are just a few of the authors that make her deaf and blind to anyone around her when she’s reading. Victoria’s other addiction besides reading is music. She has sung in many choirs in New York City and spent a few ostensibly happy years singing rock in groups like Big and the Evolution. No, you haven’t heard of it-if you had, she wouldn’t be an agent. She also is the co-author (with Cynthia Katz) of seven novels written by “Cynthia Victor.”

Jenny Bent has worked in publishing for over 15 years, both as an editor and an agent, most recently as Vice President at Trident Media Group before founding THE BENT AGENCY in 2009. There she has continued her tradition of representing bestsellers, with over 25 titles on the NYTimes list since she opened her doors. She represents women’s fiction, suspense, romance, young adult, memoir and humor.