General, advice

Querying: An Update!

I’ve been seeing that a lot of friends on twitter are getting ready for the adventure of querying. Wahoo! Not gonna lie, I’m so happy I don’t have to do that again, but it makes me happy to watch other people do it. I have to tip my hat to anyone with the guts to try, and I wish you all luck!

A long time ago, I did a post on how to query, and I thought I would follow up with a little note about staying organized. I tend to be a bit of a mess, and the only things that save me are tools like festive folders that I can’t possibly lose, pens stashed in every corner of my house, and the gloriousness that is color coordination. So, as you go to make your list of agents, here are some tips on keeping everything together.

I still recommend using agentquery. It’s free and easy to navigate. All the information you need is listed under each agent, and here’s what I suggest you do with all that info. In a Word document:

  1. Order the agents you want to query in order of how much you love them. This is a long-term relationship, so if you happen to see that you have similar tastes in books or know they make you laugh on twitter, put them in your top 10. Or close to it anyway. I may have said this before, but I actually put Elana in the number 11 spot because I thought we would be a good fit and I was so afraid my first 10 would be rejections that I bumped her *just* out of it. Superstitious and silly, but it worked in the long run.
  2. List the agent’s name and beside that any pertinent notes, like that they’re actively seeking your genre or you met them at a conference. Underneath that, put the agency. Note beside that if a rejection from one agent is a rejection from the whole agency. Some are small and share stuff if they think another agent will like it, so you if you have multiples from one agency, pick a fave and go with it.
  3. Get the stats: You need their email address or snail mail address if they’re not down with e-queries. Beneath that, you want a list of what they ask for. Just a query? A query and the first 10 pages? Whatever it is, write it down, and before you send out a single query, make sure you have everything you need. I needed the letter, a 5-page sample, a 10-page sample, a 2-page synopsis, and a 5-page synopsis for The Selection. Oh, and I only sent out 13 queries… so that was a lot of stuff for a small number of agents. Be prepared so they’re not asking for something that you have to make them wait for.
  4. Once you start sending your queries, start color coordinating and dating. Beside each entry, note the date you sent it, and assign a color for sent emails. Do the same for rejections and for when agents ask for more. For some agents, they tell you they’ll get back within a certain timeframe. If you sent a query 8 weeks ago (which you know because you dated it) you can follow up with a “Hey, did you get this?” because sometimes things get lost. This also helps for when agents are reading a partial or whole copy of your manuscript. At that point it gets bumped from things they *have* to read to things they *want* to read, and it might take them a while to get to it, and after a respectable time (I’d say 8 weeks again), I think it’s okay to follow up.
  5. And even though this isn’t about being organized, I want to remind you to be patient. When I was querying, I couldn’t figure out what took so long! I thought that was all agents did all day. But now that I’m on the other side of it and see just how much Elana is doing for me (negotiating contracts, helping with website stuff, giving me general advice, hunting for quarters so I can take the bus when I visit New York, and a thousand other things), I get it. And she’s not just doing that for me, but for her whole list of clients. So cut the agents some slack, and keep writing in the meantime.

So who’s querying in 2012? Keep me posted on your progress, and again, GOOD LUCK!