So, (disclaimer) I’ve never received an offer of representation, but I’ve done a lot of a LOT of querying over the last three years, and shockingly, I’m still alive and at it. So, I thought I’d share a trick or two on how to stay positive and make the process as painless as possible
Please keep in mind this is just my personal querying philosophy which may or may not work for you. As always, take what’s helpful and leave the rest!
1. USE Querytracker
I use the free version to filter for agents seeking my genre/age group. For example, I’m in the middle of querying a YA sci-fi. So I searched for agents interested in young adult and science fiction, and only queried the ones interested in both. (But not before reading their bio and manuscript wishlist first… and everyone else’s in their agency to make sure I was querying the right one.) Honestly, after three young adult books, if an agent has even thought about repping YA, I’ve probably read their bio. 😂
Since I use the free version of querytracker, I also make a giant spreadsheet to keep track of agent name, agency, and query date, to make sure I don’t double query anyone or any agencies.
2. keep your query files updated and ready
Specifically, I have a folder with these files: query, synopsis, first three chapters, first 10 pages, first 20 pages, first 50 pages, and first chapter. Also, I save any other questions they ask me in case another agent asks the same thing.
This is what I have so far for my current querying manuscript: pitch, audience, similar titles, why I’m the right person to write this book, movie/show comp titles, a line about my MC, who would play my MC, the theme song for my book, and the inspiration for my book.
3. Keep Expectations low. always.
Okay, so, maybe I’m a pessimist, but this one is important to me, because I have gotten quite a few full requests now on multiple novels, and… none of them panned out. Some of them even came back with positive feedback (but still a rejection), and there are also quite a few that I never got a response on at all! And I am painfully aware that even if I get an agent one day, my book still may not sell.
Keeping my expectations low is how I keep myself from getting crushed with every rejection, and maybe one day I’ll be shocked out of my socks with an offer of rep. But… right now, I treat query letters like lottery tickets, and keep on keepin’ on.
4. Know what comes after
So there are really three parts to this.
A. Have at least a rough idea of how long you will query for.
Because you could non-figuratively query one work for your whole life: query one agent, wait 3 months and CNR (closed: no response), revise, and then query the next agent. And that’s totally okay! Just have a strategy going in.
B. Know what comes after.
Will you heavily revise and re-query down the road? Will you shelve the work and query something else? Will you self-publish?
Knowing what comes next helps reduce the fear of rejection. It helps to remind us that rejection is not the end, but merely the next step of the journey.
C. Work on something else while you wait!
This is pretty common advice, but SO true. If I find myself excited to wrap up querying on book ABC so that I can query book DEF (because I’ve grown as a writer, this book is my best yet, and it’s TOTALLY the one!) then this strategy has succeeded (again.)
Make a friend along the way
Because there are a lot of us querying writers out there (Just check out #amquerying on Twitter), and nothing quite takes the sting off rejection like commiserating with a friend. So, find your Sam, Frodo, go throw that query into Mt Doom… and then, you know, maybe one day, Sauron will offer to represent you.
Wait a minute, I think this analogy went wrong somewhere… 😂
Anyways, keep laughing & try to enjoy the journey. Because there will always be another Mt Doom to climb (or something 😂.)
Thanks for reading! And if you have any other querying tips you’d like to add, feel free to comment below!