Querying Agents

Submission protocol, query etiquette, and strategies that work
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kristi
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Querying Agents

Post by kristi » December 10th, 2009, 3:24 pm

For those of you that have been through the query process, how many agents did you query at a time - assuming you didn't send it to your whole list at once - and did you send to your favorites first or wait on those? If you'd like to say how it all worked out, I'd love to hear that too. Just curious as I'm going to start this fun process soon with my YA ms. Thanks.

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Josin
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Re: Querying Agents

Post by Josin » December 10th, 2009, 3:38 pm

5-10, favorites first.

Dakota388
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Re: Querying Agents

Post by Dakota388 » December 10th, 2009, 3:47 pm

I sent my first round of queries (3-5) when I believed my query was ready back in Oct. or so. Then, with the help of being rejected and forums such as this, I realized that my query was highly flawed. Countless hours of revising and I was ready again. This time, confident in my query, I sent out 7 more (though not all at once). Still no luck. So here I am reworking my query again before my next round. The reason for such few queries at a time seem to be two-fold for me. 1) I'm constantly learning about the mistakes I make and 2) It takes time to research the agent, read interviews, and follow their submission guidelines to a tee. So what I'm suggesting is taking your time and making quality more important than quantity. Trust me, there have been countless times where I was sure my query was ready and fired it off to my favorite agents only to be devastated when I realized I've wasted my one shot. Nathan was my first agent queried and I blew that chance. So if I can prevent someone else from the same mistake, then I've done my part.
Hope this helps.
"The Light of Epertase"-A fantasy novel coming August 1st from Rhemalda Publishing

kristi
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Re: Querying Agents

Post by kristi » December 10th, 2009, 6:13 pm

Thanks Josin and Dakota - I appreciate the feedback. I keep going back and forth with this issue.

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Mira
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Re: Querying Agents

Post by Mira » December 11th, 2009, 12:21 am

Hi Kristi, yes, I think this is a really hard one. I have random thoughts about this, none of it from my own experience. :)

I hear alot of people lately saying they are querying their B or C list first, just to test the waters.

This seems to be going along with a new trend toward trying to get more than one offer, and using that to lure in your favorite.....

I honestly don't know. I think if you get other offers, you can also go BACK to your favorite and say: hey, you turned me down, but 10 other people want me, are you sure? That can be compelling.

I do think there is something to be said about testing the waters, because it can tell you your writing or your query may need work before you send to your A list....although something about it doesn't sit right with me. That doesn't mean I won't do it, necessarily, but it doesn't feel quite 'clean' to me to query people I don't want to work with..so, I don't know.

In terms of how many, I hear alot of people say they query multiple agents at a time, so they don't go crazy waiting for the responses. If you query one at a time, it could drag out for years.

So, I don't know if any of these random thoughts are helpful, but it's what came up for me. :)

Good luck! I'm excited to hear you're ready to dive in. I hope you'll keep us posted!

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Re: Querying Agents

Post by casnow » December 11th, 2009, 4:52 am

I sent mine out to 30 agents, but while doing that I made lists of other agents at the same agency that I thought I might jive with as well. I sent out two versions of my query... v1 to 15 agents, v2 to 15 agents. My query definitely needed work, and in it's current for I think I could send it out to the same agents and it is different/improved enough that they wouldn't know... and in fact I might re-submit it in 6 months.

Just as important as the query though is making sure your first 5-10 pages are rock solid... Out of my 30 queries I have gotten 6 form rejections, 4 I'm too busy rejections, 1 request for a partial, and 1 I'm retired... so I'm still waiting to hear from 19 others (submitted three weeks ago). The one request for a partial asked for first 10 pages... and she told me that she loved the story, but thought it still needed work based on the first 5-10... when I reread it, to my horror I found that the story really doesn't pick up steam until page 7 or 8... basically I had lost her by the time she got to the good part!

Anyhow, I figure there are 500+ agents I can easily find and query, so a block of 30 (saving some favs for later) was a good test for me.

kristi
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Re: Querying Agents

Post by kristi » December 11th, 2009, 9:04 am

I'm going to a SCBWI event in late Jan. where they will have 2 agents (who rep YA) read first pages and give their thoughts. I'm excited about it and hope to gain some more insight before I start the process.

Mira and Casnow - thanks for your feedback. I have a list of about 30 now that I'd be really happy to work with and am trying to figure out how to break that down. I definitely wouldn't do the luring thing - if an agent passed and then I got multiple other offers, I wouldn't go back to that agent. I want someone who really loves and gets my work the first time around. Also, I realize the perfect agent for me may not be someone I originally think is a "top pick" and vice versa - one of my "top picks" may not be the best fit for me. At least I still have a few months to figure it out. *sigh* Thanks again for the suggestions!

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Mira
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Re: Querying Agents

Post by Mira » December 11th, 2009, 9:59 am

kristi wrote: Also, I realize the perfect agent for me may not be someone I originally think is a "top pick" and vice versa - one of my "top picks" may not be the best fit for me.
You know, that's a really good point. I was thinking about this, and I bet if an agent said 'yes' to me, they'd move up my list pretty darn quickly. :)

And it's not like it's that easy to get anyone to say 'yes'! So, I'm not necessarily recommending certain tactics, I just see them happening 'around town' more.

Good luck at the conference and with your querying!
Last edited by Mira on December 13th, 2009, 11:36 pm, edited 1 time in total.

Dakota388
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Re: Querying Agents

Post by Dakota388 » December 11th, 2009, 10:07 am

Mira wrote:
kristi wrote: Also, I realize the perfect agent for me may not be someone I originally think is a "top pick" and vice versa - one of my "top picks" may not be the best fit for me.
You know, that's a really good point. I was thinking about this, and I bet if an agent said 'yes' to me, they'd move up my list pretty darn quickly. :)

And it's not like it's that easy to get anyone to say 'yes'! So, I'm necessarily recommending certain tactics, I just see them happening 'around town' more.

Good luck at the conference and with your querying!
I agree. At this point, I'm ready to sell my story to a stranger in a dark ally with no credentials. I only wish I had the problem of choosing between my top agents and my not so top agents.
"The Light of Epertase"-A fantasy novel coming August 1st from Rhemalda Publishing

kristi
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Re: Querying Agents

Post by kristi » December 11th, 2009, 10:31 am

Thanks Mira! Dakota - good luck and I hope no dark alleys are involved :)

Krista G.
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Re: Querying Agents

Post by Krista G. » December 12th, 2009, 2:36 pm

I started my second agent hunt in June by sending queries out in batches of 10 every two weeks or so. By the end of July/beginning of August, I had five partial requests. I decided to regroup at that point, wait for some feedback, and sent out my next round of queries in mid-September, with subsequent batches every three to four weeks. I’m currently waiting to hear back on four fulls and two partials, and I just received a complimentary partial rejection from one of my top agents with an invitation to submit future work (if this one doesn’t work out).

As far as which agents to query first, I’d suggest putting together three lists: your A, B, and C lists. Then I’d query one or two A-listers (though not necessarily your top, top picks), one or two B-listers, and the rest C-listers. Because what if, gasp, one of your B- or C-listers offers representation and you haven’t even contacted your top choices yet? It seems a little squirrely to query them at that point and say, “Oh, and by the way, I already have an offer of representation, but I really wanted you to be my agent, so I’m querying you now.” Just my opinion, though.

Good luck with your hunt. And don’t forget to keep writing – it’s the only thing that will keep you sane:)
Author of THE REGENERATED MAN (G.P. Putnam's Sons Books for Young Readers, Winter 2015)
Represented by Kate Schafer Testerman of kt literary
www.motherwrite.blogspot.com

kristi
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Re: Querying Agents

Post by kristi » December 12th, 2009, 7:11 pm

Thanks Krista - best of luck to you too!

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