Monday, April 9, 2012

Organizing your queries

How cool is that? And pretty too.

A while back I did a post on developing your query and I included some helpful links. Go here to check it out.

Today, I thought I'd talk about queries after they are polished and ready to go. What do you do?  Yes, you are going to send them out, but how and what do you do with all the info. You don't just send them out to anyone who will listen. It takes time, research, and organization.

The very first thing (if you haven't done it already) is to research agents. You don't want to send your pretty YA to a picture book agent. It's a waste of every one's time. Research the agents you want to send your baby to. That's right--research. Don't run away. If I can do this, you can too. This can be done while you are polishing your query. Simply look up who you think would be the best fit. Where ? It's called the Internet, people, and there's lots of info on it. So check out these sites that may help you make a list of agents that could change your life-- Preditors and EditorsAgentQuery, Querytracker.net, AgentQuery Connect (this website is great for query advice too), and Pub Rants. I know I'm missing some so please add below. Also, check out my query post from before--see above.

Next, set up lists of the agents you like. I set them up in an A,B,C list with my top picks in the A column and so on. This can be done by hand (you know, pen and paper) or Excel spreadsheet.

When you are ready to send, check the submission guidelines on the agency's website. Some require just a query, some a query and synopsis, some a query, synopsis, and sample pages--just make sure before you send.

The one thing to keep in mind is to keep all queries that are sent organized. I've been using Querytracker.net. You can research agents and keep a log of where you send your queries. Parts of it are free. They also offer a premium package. You can make a note of when you sent the query, and how long the agent usually takes to get back to you. Also, you can get info from others who have queried that agent.

So you're ready to hit send, but how many do you send at a time? My advice--send only a handful. For example, send two from your A list, two from B list, and two from C list. This way if an agent gives you helpful advice, you can fix it before you send out more.

Then wait, and wait, and wait, and wait--you know that patience thing. Trust me, people are busy. When you get a response go from there. If it's a request for a partial or full--go you, and follow the agent's instructions. If it's a rejection (I'm whispering here) then eat some chocolate and send out another query. Make sure you mark on your chart what you are doing to keep track. Rinse and repeat, right? Then go and write something new. Start a new project or revisit an old one. Keep writing!!

Do you have any query organizing tips?

Who has sugar overload from the weekend? *raises hand*

Have a great day!!

8 comments:

  1. A submissions log is important to keep track of where you're going, been, and are headed. It's a great way to record your growth as a writer, too. I leave a section for comments and insert any positive an agent made to me, especially if they've requested more material in the future.

    And yes, research is key.

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  2. I love the premium QT, but it can be very addictive. Since you know when each query sent to the agent gets a reply, it's very easy to keep checking to see if the agent is close to reading yours. The benefit is you can tell when your query has been missed.

    You'd be shocked how many writers query agents who aren't looking for the writer's genre. I see it all the time on QT. And surprise surprise, they all end up with rejections. However, I did receive an offer of representation from an agent who's not listed as repping YA. She was repping select TITLES sent her way from another agent, but she wasn't interested in representing the writer's long term career.

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  3. I love SA Larsen's idea of a submissions log. I know that I've accidentially queried 1 agent twice and queried 2 agents at one agency by mistake. So, double- no, triple- check your info before you send anything out!

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  4. I kept a massive spreadsheet of my submissions with info about the agent. It's basically what you described here, but I color coded my A, B, C groups. It helped tremendously to always see what was stirring in the pot, so to speak.

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  5. I only queried publishers, but I sent them out in small batches.
    No sugar overload for me because we wisely brought no Easter candy into the house!

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  6. My strategy is very similar to yours. Everyone makes the odd mistake, but keeping track is vital.

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  7. Great tips, Christine! What a useful checklist for queryers. I was terrible at tracking my queries. Then again, I never queried that many. I'm such a chicken.

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