Self-published authors get to skip the query trenches, but know that theirs is a hard road — full of marketing, and advertising, and building their brands — while working on the next novel. Without even the little help that small press or traditional publishing can offer.
But, for the rest of us, we all take different approaches to querying agents.
What type of querier are you?
This querier follows ALL the query tips. They do enough research to personalize if applicable, then tweaks the query and first pages until the request rate is reasonable.
Then, they send out queries in batches of 7-10, and send out a new query every time they get a rejection or hit a time-out window. After 100 queries, this querier is either agented, planning to self-publish, or shelves the manuscript and has a new manuscript ready to query.
This querier knows there’s nothing like that personal touch. She goes to conventions and signs up for all the one-on-ones with the agents in her genre, the ones who represent the novels that make the perfect comps for her manuscript.
This querier only queries agents she’s personally met, because she knows that’ll give her that extra level of attention from the agent. Anything to get ahead of the nameless crowds of the slush pile.
This (wanna-be) querier is almost ready. The novel just needs one more round of revisions, but he’s going to query as soon as this draft is done. — Or at least, that’s what he’s been saying… for the last 10 years.
Are The Signs Right?
This querier is superstitious. She only queries on Wednesday mornings, when it’s raining, and the dog let her sleep until the alarm. Each query has exactly 246 words in it, and she hits send while listening to the second verse of Hamilton’s I’m Not Throwing Away My Shot.
The Eager #NaNoWriMite
This querier wrote his first book in November, polished it in January, and is gonna query 3 agents a week until he gets that huge book deal! Who needs a beta reader? Inspiration was with him and this book is so timely!
This querier starts out well — ze sends out a batch. But then? Ze gets caught up in a new project or a writing contest and forgets to query that second batch. But, don’t worry, ze’ll get to it, as soon as this new project gets to a — Oh! Ze just got a new story idea!
This querier knows she needs to get her manuscript out there. She agonizes over her query letter, with about 4 bazillion re-writes, finally hits ‘send’ on the query. Then? She rereads it and sees INSTANTLY where those typos were and how she could have made it better. So, she eats a box of cookies, beats herself up for two weeks, and fixes the letter before she sends the next query.
After the first rejection comes in, she stares at her story. Her manuscript is probably getting drowned in a pile of similar tropes by her mediocre writing. Perhaps another tweak on the first pages? The query OBVIOUSLY could be improved. And maybe the market is wrong right now and she should wait and query later? Maybe another look at the synopsis? Hers stinks…
Sweet summer child
This querier has finally polished his novel and knows that he’s ready! So, it’s time to let the agents know!
He looks online and queries every agent in his genre on Query Tracker in under a week, and reaches out for suggestions on other agents to query — before he’s even heard back from the first agent.
This querier knows their novel is too niche for the market. They’re gonna have to self-publish anyway. But? They might as well pop a few queries off to their dream agent. It’s okay, they’ve already prepped the manuscript and will hit the ‘publish’ button the day that last rejection comes in.
This querier does tons of research using all the social media — staying just this side of stalking. Rearranges and tweaks the query to the exact specifications of this agent and their tastes.
Then, revises her whole novel every 10 rejections, cause clearly there’s something she should fix.
I think it’s pretty clear which querier I am, which one are you? (Or do you think you would be if you were going to query a novel?)
Let me know if there are any I missed!