Thursday, June 30, 2011

The Queerness of Querying

Sure, queerness probably isn't a word, but we're going with it anyway.

Short post here, just looking for your opinions. I'm querying right now and quickly finding out that this quirky business can be quite quit-inducing. Did you ever see a sentence with more qu words? Just kidding. What I'm saying is querying is a tough part of the writing world. So grab one of these questions if you can and give me your advice.

1. How do you personalize a query?
2. Do you keep a chart or something to keep track of when you queried who?
3. How do you keep your chin up after a few/a lot of rejections?
4. How do you pick which agents you will query?
5. How often do you get requests for more of your manuscript? Does this usually turn out positive for you or negative?
6. Do you query the same agent with more than one manuscript? Or once they give you a "no" do you leave them alone.
7. Do you have a number of rejections you draw the line at and decide to shelve a book, or do you keep revising and searching for more agents.
8. Do you ever query the few mainstream publishers that don't require an agent? Which ones?
9. Does the querying process make you feel like you never had any talent to begin with and what the heck were you thinking? (You know, hypothetically. Just asking :))
10. If you could start your first querying process all over again, what would you change?


Bonnie R. Paulson said...

I'll go with a few of these to answer.

Through researching blogs and so on, I've found that briefest is best. I personalize a query with their name. Pretty much that's it. They don't have the time to filter through a huge long query. I want to keep their attention.

I have a very intensive chart with dates and replies, what is needed, what their URL is and email etc.

I research my agents and publishers.

I query Kensington, Carina Press, Avon, Sourcebooks and HQN. The rest don't take unagented or are small presses.

If you get a no from an agent, it doesn't mean you stop querying them. Try again with your next book, because your writing gets better.

I would go back and tell myself not to stress out about whether I land an agent or not. There are so many opportunities in this industry. Why pile on the stress?

Good post!

Emily Rittel-King said...

I'll take number 10, as I'm doing it right now. I revised my MS after turning down a publishing deal with a lesser known publisher. I've also re-titled my MS and revamped my query letter. It's been a long time since I've queried agents, and I think enough time has passed to approach them again, from a better prepared angle. Don't query too soon, and do research the agents you query. I've learned my lesson!

Chantele Sedgwick said...

1-I researched every single agent I queried. What they represented, what their tastes were. Who they represented.
2-I made a little spreadsheet with who I queried, what date, and what dates they rejected or asked for a partial/full. It was so much easier than just sending out a bunch and not remembering who I had already queried. :)
3-Rejections suck. End of story. But when I'd get a rejection, I'd send out another query to a different agent. It took the sting away a little.
4-Research, research, research! Look for similar tastes in books and the awesome clients they represent!
5-I got a lot of requests for the manuscript that got me signed. It went both ways. I got some rejections, and obviously a few offers. :) A rejection on a full hurts. Not gonna lie. But shake it off and keep trying.
6-As long as it isn't the same project you queried, you're fine to query them again. If you do query the same project they already rejected and it has had an extreme revisions, you're fine to query that project again but mention you sent it to them earlier and it has significant changes.
7-I ended up with 56 rejections or something like that with my fairy tale book, and was ready to give up ... when my agent called. 56 is not a lot. I know people who have hundreds. Just put it away when you think you've had enough rejection and start on a new project. Or revise.
8-Nope. Never tried. Too scared. :)
9-Yes. Those feelings still creep up on me.
10-I'd make sure my book was as perfect as could be. I only had one person critique it and should have had some betas to go through plot problems before I sent it out. Oh well. :)

I didn't really mean to answer all of them, but I couldn't resist. I hope that helps!:)

Melanie Jacobson said...

Have you heard about Query Tracker? I heard about it through Writer's Digest. It looks like a great free online tool.

Jolene Perry said...

Research agents. Well.
Only query people you REALLY want to work with.

You should be getting about 30% request rate - almost agents agree with something near this number. If you're not, revise your query.

9. YES

I don't keep a chart, I just put the date, the person, the agenct and what they asked for query one, query and 1st 10 etc. I use two columns so I can see a bunch at once. As I got requests, I'd bold those and add the date and what was requested. As I got rejections, I'd cross them out. Worked great. Super easy.

Good Luck! It's NOT easy!!