Querying

Queries, Part Deux

If you’d like to discuss query letters, you’ve come to the right place.
As promised last Friday, here is more information about the Excel spreadsheet I created to keep track of my querying process.  The headings I used across the top are:
1.  Agency
2.  Agent’s Name
3.  Address
4.  Email
5.  Website
6.  Include With Query
7.  Miscellaneous
8.  Looking For
9.  Represents
10. Response Time
11. Date Sent
12. Result

What do you think–anything I’m missing??  Of course, not all of these fields are applicable for all agencies.  Some only accept e-queries or only accept snail mail.  A few don’t have websites.  On the other hand, a couple agencies on my list are now using an online submission form, in which you enter the information they request.  I like this idea–it reduces my chances of sending something they don’t want.

Some agencies only want query letters.  Others want a synopsis, or chapters (one to three), or sample pages (anywhere from two to fifty), or some combination of the above.  So I put that information under the “Include With Query” heading.  Some agencies request specific things within the query letter–author bio, credentials, website audience, etc–so I list that info under the “Miscellaneous” heading.  I was writing “No email attachments!” until I realized that no one wants email attachments, LOL.  Makes sense, of course.

The “Looking For” and “Represents” columns help me personalize letters to agents.  So if the agent is looking for a certain genre or voice that I can offer, I’ll mention that in my letter.  Or if they represent an author whose books are similar to mine, I could mention that my books might be a good fit for the agency.

The “Response Time” is when I can expect to hear back from the agent.  Right now my expected replies vary from one week to three months.  So I’ll record the day I send the query and the type of response I get (IF I get a response; some agencies won’t reply if they’re uninterested).
I’ve been using the online version of Writer’s Market to garner information about agencies.  If an agency’s website is listed on WM, I visit the website too.  But what should I do if the info on WM differs from the info on the website?!  I’m assuming the website is correct, although WM is supposed to be updated on a regular basis.  Any guesses about this?

I can learn a lot about an agency from a good website.  I’ve narrowed down my list of agencies just by reading websites.  I don’t want to waste anyone’s time (mine or the agent’s) by querying an agency who would not be a good match for my work.  And if an agent blogs–even better!  I can learn the agent’s “voice,” get a hint of personality, and know what he or she is looking for.

I’ve also discovered a few agencies that are perfect for children/YA books.  As in, I would be happy with any of the agents there (whereas some agencies only have one or two agents interested in YA).  So if all the agents are looking for YA, how do I choose who to query?  A few of the websites say they’ll pass the query on to another agent if it seems he/she might be interested.  Which is better than nothing, but I think my chances are better by picking the right one in the first place!  I know I can’t submit simultaneously to multiple agents within an agency, and some websites request that you do not resubmit to another agent if one turns you down.  A “no” from the agent is a “no” from the agency.

Have you heard the advice, “If you like a book, look in the acknowledgements to see who the agent is”?  Well, what if the book doesn’t have any acknowledgements??  Or it does but the agent isn’t mentioned??  This seems to be fairly common, especially in the YA books I’ve been searching.  Why is that?  And how am I supposed to find out who the agent is for that author (apart from long Google searches that lead nowhere)??

Well, that’s enough rambling for now.  I have a mountain of work to do this week:
1.  Finish revising query letter.
2.  Finish synopsis.
3.  Finish edits/rewrites of novel.

So if you don’t hear from me this week, that’s why.  I’ll try to catch up on emails soon.  I’d love to hear any other query news out there!  Leave a comment if you have any questions (or answers!).  Have a good week!

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