So last week I came across a question from another new writer in one of the writing groups I’m a member of. It was the basic same question all authors have, is it time to query, and how do I do it? So, I chimed in with my advice. I’m sharing that same advice here, since not everyone on the web is a part of that group.
Starting the query process can be daunting, stressful, and just down right scary sometimes. It’s why us writers agonize and research how to do it correctly.
- How do you know when to start querying?
- When you are ready to start querying, how do you go about starting?
- What should I keep in mind while I query, and what should I avoid?
These are all common questions when you start querying for the first time. So much so, that if you google the questions, you will come up with thousands of results. Since it is a widely asked topic, there can never be too much advice, but you do need to learn what to take in, what to consider, and what to leave on the webpage.
Here are my tips when you find that you are ready to query. I am going to paste my exact response to the other writer, while adding a few things I thought of after I had posted it. (Of course, I removed the authors name for privacy.)
Note on the response below: The new author had asked very specific questions, however, they had not finished editing their current novel and they were still in the revision phase. They were wondering if they could start querying since they have finished editing the first chapter. Read on to see how these questions were addressed.
Hi [New Author],
You have some great questions. Here is my opinion. Are you 100% certain you are done editing and revising the first 50 pages? Sometimes Agents also request partials if they are interested, and sometimes they request the first 5 chapters for query. Are you positive that you have finished editing and revising the sample no matter what the agents query guidelines are? If you are not, you wouldn’t want to send something you may edit further. Make sure it is 100% done before you query. Now, on to your questions:
1. What is the typical response time after you query?
The typical response time can be anywhere from 2 weeks to 6 months, if you get a response at all. I know this is a broad range, but keep in mind, Agents receive hundreds to thousands of queries a day.
2. Who should I approach to query?
As far as who to approach, you can look here:http://agentquery.com/Do an agent search for your genre, read through their guidelines, what they represent, and what they are looking for. This will help you decide who you think is the best fit for your work. Added: You can also follow #MSWL on twitter as they list what agents are currently looking for as well. Or you can find them online at http://www.manuscriptwishlist.com/ and do an agent search.
3. Can I resubmit to an agency if I don’t hear back?
For resubmitting to the same agency, make sure you read their guidelines first. Some allow it after so much time has passed, some do not. Some may even ask you to if you make substantial changes. Again, read their guidelines if you find you want to resubmit to an agency. But never, never, submit to multiple agents at the same agency. A lot of them do not allow this and will immediately reject your query if they find it has happened. Now, if so much time has passed, some may allow you to query a different agent within the agency if you do not hear back from the one you originally submitted to, some absolutely do not. Again, refer to their guidelines.
4. If I receive a rejection to my query, is that agency closed to me for good?
If you query now, and it is rejected, it does not necessarily mean that door is closed forever. Just for right now. Move on down the list. If, after you have queried every agent that represents your type of work (allowing for response time, and maybe 5-10 with each rounds of submission) you either get no responses or all rejections, look back at your work. You will have to decide to revise it, change it, or let it sit for a while and start a new project. If you revise and change it, then you can resubmit based on the agencies guidelines. But make sure you put in your query that you have queried before and this new query is based on substantial changes you’ve made to the story.
5. Can I query more than one story at a time?
You can query more than one story at a time, but that would be nerve wracking to me. But know, do not send more than one query at a time to the same agent or agency, no matter if it is a different story.
6. How do I craft a query letter?
For the query letter itself, check out here:http://queryshark.blogspot.com/Query Shark is an active agent who shreds queries for the good of the authors. She teaches what to and what not to do. Read them all. I’m not kidding, read them all. You will learn a lot on how to craft a query letter and what most agents are looking for in a query.
Hope this is helpful – A.G.
So there you have it. My tips for querying your story. Do you have any to add? Tips you came across when you were researching querying? I would love to hear them.