How many people do you query?

Submission protocol, query etiquette, and strategies that work
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sarahdee
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How many people do you query?

Post by sarahdee » July 2nd, 2010, 4:17 am

I decided to start with five. I didn't want to cross the line between sending my manuscript out to a nice selection of agents who may be interested and bombarding every agent listed on the internet with my novel. I also thought five rejections in one go would be my limit!

I picked those 5 agents by going through their websites, making sure they represented my genre, checking other authors to see if they represented people my book could be compared to and lastly just from the look and feel of their website. Some came across as a little pompous like they would be doing me a favour by letting me email them. Some had great submission guidelines, suggestions, FAQ, explanations of their staff and what they did. So all my five agents came from the latter list.

Now I am wondering, is five enough? Should I have sent further afield? How many people do you have on your Query Lists?

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maybegenius
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Re: How many people do you query?

Post by maybegenius » July 2nd, 2010, 4:35 am

I believe Nathan himself may have said something about querying in batches... if it wasn't him, I know I've read it from other agent blogs. The idea is that you want to see if your query is getting bites, and if not, you can change it up and send to a new batch without having already exhausted your entire list of possible agents.

You should definitely send more than five. I've heard that some authors sent up to 100-200 queries before they landed an agent! But going about it in batches of 5-10 is definitely the way to go. That way you aren't overwhelming yourself.
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HillaryJ
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Re: How many people do you query?

Post by HillaryJ » July 2nd, 2010, 3:14 pm

For the ms I'm querying, I sent a wave of ten from a list of about 60 that represent my genre and are currently accepting unsolicited queries. I have about 5 "wish list agents", but only included two of those in the first wave. Partly, as maybegenius said, I wanted to know if the query/first few pages would be enough to hook anybody. You might also score with some good feedback from a rejecting agent and be able to rewrite to strengthen either your query or your book for the next wave.
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Erica75
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Re: How many people do you query?

Post by Erica75 » July 5th, 2010, 11:01 am

Another tip - check Query Tracker (or another one that tracks responses, I use QT) to see what each agents response percentages and times are. I sent out my first 5 to agents who always respond so that I could be sure I wouldn't be sitting there for 3 months wondering if my email went through this early in the game :)
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Re: How many people do you query?

Post by JuiceinLA » July 9th, 2010, 3:50 pm

in my humble, non-represented yet- opinion, I would say keep query-ing until you get an agent! I have a friend who only queried about 10 agents and then gave up. The thing is, you can't give up until every last agent has rejected you! You cant think of it as rejection, but more of finding someone who gets you and your perspective.

Also the more you query the more hints you will get as to what is causing rejections. If you get all auto-reply rejections, then it might be your pitch. Or on my case, I finally stumbled across an agent who said "Love your energy, but I can't sell a 150,000 word book in this genre. Get it down to 110,000 and then re-query me." The light bulb went off and I thought "Ah maybe this is why people are "passing" on my work.

Keep up the faith in yourself and your work.

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sarahdee
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Re: How many people do you query?

Post by sarahdee » July 10th, 2010, 1:40 am

Okey dokey

I am revising my query and synopsis with the help of you lovely folk. I'm not quite sure if I'm brave enough to post an excerpt but I am trying to organise a critique partner to see if I need to revise the whole ms. Then I shall try another batch of 5 or so.

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HillaryJ
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Re: How many people do you query?

Post by HillaryJ » July 10th, 2010, 4:42 pm

sarahdee wrote:Okey dokey

I am revising my query and synopsis with the help of you lovely folk. I'm not quite sure if I'm brave enough to post an excerpt but I am trying to organise a critique partner to see if I need to revise the whole ms. Then I shall try another batch of 5 or so.
sarahdee,

If your goal is to get an agent and, ultimately, to be published, bravery is going to be required. Start small - post snippets you like or trouble spots you need help with in forums full of nice people (like here) and see how your story or query comes across. You don't have to take all advice you receive, but if you want to stay same through the querying/submission process, you need to start growing a thick skin. Truly, it's your best protection.
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Re: How many people do you query?

Post by Erica75 » July 10th, 2010, 11:23 pm

Sarah - one more observation. If you haven't had anyone read your full ms yet, I don't think you're ready to query. Sorry. I found someone here who did a three-chapter critique for me, then I moved on to a beta who did my full ms, then I found an awesome critique group who did my first 5 chapters. THEN I put my first page up on Nathan's blog this past Tuesday and found out I STILL DON'T HAVE THE DANG THING RIGHT (bangs head on wall)...........

So, maybe hold off until the end of summer (the rumor is publishing takes August off anyway) and in the meantime find a partner or two or twelve :) But not me, because I'm totally dizzy from all the head-banging I've been doing this week.
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sarahdee
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Re: How many people do you query?

Post by sarahdee » July 11th, 2010, 1:54 am

My poor husband is my proof reader, but his comments are only as far as spelling, grammar, typos etc. I have two friends who have read and generally commented although I realise they are far to nice to be too critical. Neither are writers but both are big readers and generally very literate people.

I have made contact with one possible critique partner, perhaps I should branch out and try another. One day I shall be brave enough to post an excerpt on here. So far everyone who commented on my query/synopsis has given fair, useful, pleasant yet firm critique. I shall definitely wait for further critique on the ms from either this partner or the boards before trying again so end of summer sounds realistic.

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Re: How many people do you query?

Post by John Dillon » July 19th, 2010, 7:52 pm

I created a spreadsheet of 150 agents who represent my genre and accept email queries. I sent out my first query on June 1. Between June 1st and July 8th I sent out about ten queries. In the last ten days I've sent out fifteen more for a total of 25. I generally send out about three at a time, but I don't have a hard and fast rule about it.

I'm also the first to admit I have no idea what I'm doing as I fly along by the seat of my pants.

So far I've received five rejections in response to the query, one rejection after a request for a partial, and one request for the full manuscript which I'm waiting to hear back on. The other 18 queries are out there. I imagine some have been silently rejected and I hope that a couple result in requests.

If I exhaust the list of 150 without obtaining representation, I expect I will self-publish the work. I've got a day job that I like a lot. Writing a novel had been a goal I'd wore like an anvil for the last twelve years. One year ago I finally sat down and wrote it. The satisfaction is pure. I hope someone in the industry thinks enough of it that he or she thinks it's worth sharing with the world, but for me, it's all gravy from here.

Good luck all.

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Re: How many people do you query?

Post by MrsGIJoe » July 19th, 2010, 8:45 pm

I have a list of my top 30 agents. They are numbered and I plan to start with the bottom 3 and work my way up. Just in case I get any good usable rejection feedback I don't want to blow it and send letters to my top few agents.

That's what I'm starting with. I do also have a list of "back-ups" that I plan to use if after the first 10 queries I don't hear anything.

Good luck with your letters! I plan to start sending mine out at the beginning of August. I think I'm more nervous someone out there will want to publish it :)

Mrs. G. I. Joe

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sarahdee
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Re: How many people do you query?

Post by sarahdee » July 20th, 2010, 5:06 am

John Dillon wrote:I created a spreadsheet of 150 agents who represent my genre and accept email queries.

Wow I only found 20 agents and that was using query tracker?

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Re: How many people do you query?

Post by bronwyn1 » July 20th, 2010, 2:02 pm

I don't follow the rule that says to query widely. Instead, I try to find agents who are looking for the kind of things I write, who might be a good match to my work, etc, etc.

And so far, it's worked for me. I've queried four agents, two of whom have requested the full MS (one gave me constructive feedback with an invite to resubmit).

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Re: How many people do you query?

Post by heyimkt » July 21st, 2010, 10:00 am

Haven't started yet, but I've got a list of basically my top twenty agents I plan to query. I'm just going to throw this question in here for any of you who have already started :) Do you suggest working your way up to your absolute favorite agent to query? That's the one thing I can't decide on. If I query to the one's lower on the list, possibly get some helpful rejections/feedback, I see how that can help me fix things to go on and query the top agents. But what if you (for some miraculously amazing miracle) hear back from one of those agents lower down on your list? Do you immediately shoot out a query to your top agents? Haha, sorry if this is confusing or annoying, it's just something I haven't been able to figure out! Thanks!

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