I think I’m ready to query. Now what?
Okay here is the checklist I use of what needs to be done before a query is attempted. (This list is a suggestion not a hard list of rules to follow.)
- Write a book within proper word range for genre and industry standard formatting
- Rest said book for minimum 3 weeks to freshen up your brain
- Edit, revise, rewrite and repeat with rests between
- Revise again
- Find reliable and interested beta readers (readers not critique partners)
- Revise with notes from beta readers
- Find one or two critique partners to go through with a critical eye.
- Make sure you make clear what you want them to look for
- Revise again with notes from critique partner/s
- Final grammar and format check
- Write a kick-ass query letter using industry standard formats.
- Write a boring, but perfect synopsis(yes this is the entire plot as it happens)
- Have your query letter and synopsis critiqued (You can get a professional editor for a query package critique as well. I did and it was worth every dollar)
- Research agents who represent your genre. Do not query agents who do not. It is a waste of time and often a no from one agent is a no from all within that agency.
- Follow all and EVERY rule by the agency and or agent you are querying. They are all different.
- Research the agent to personalize the query letter. Never send a query letter without at least addressing the agent you are querying.
Whew. Now once all that is done, it’s time to send out a query.
This is one of the hardest things to do. Sending a query to an agent is nervewracking. Will they request pages? Will they send a rejection? Or nothing at all?
Waiting for a response is hard. Rejections are harder. However, a rejection doesn’t mean you should give up. keep going and keep querying.
I did have a string of form rejections—a standardized generic email saying no thank you. As mentioned in my previous post, I pulled the manuscript and reevaluated.
Getting a block of rejections might be a sign that something is wrong with the manuscript. It could also be the query letter. Or it might just be that the agents are not interested. Don’t despair, seek alternate opinions or have a query package critique done by someone in the business. It is rare to get query feedback from agents. if you get some, it’s golden and don’t ignore it. If you don’t that’s okay too. Move on.
- Never reply rudely to agents who send you a rejection(yes, people do this)
- Always keep track of who you’ve queried either by spreadsheet or Query Tracker
- Only send a nudge or reminder to the agent if their response time has passed and they don’t have a disclaimer stating “No response is a no.”
Agents are busy people and get hundreds and thousands of queries. I try to keep in mind they are probably reading your query on their phone while in line for coffee or at lunch.
Advice: The query process can be stressful, seek out friends and fellow authors in the query trenches for support and encouragement. Block. mute and ignore anyone who is negative, tells you to give up and go a different route or tell you that you’re never going to get there. The people trying to bring you down are only right if you let them be right.
“Write what you love, and others will love what you write.”