Tuesday, October 23, 2018

Waiting to Query Your Dream Agent

You’ve just finished your manuscript and you’re ready to start querying! YAY! You have your query letter, synopsis, and comp titles all ready to go; you’ve got your list of agents to query; you threw up four times already. So, it’s time to fire off that query to your dream agent, right?

Well, hold up.

First of all, are you sure that your manuscript is 100% polished, professional, and perfect? What about your query letter and synopsis? Have you gone through a few rounds of revision and sent your manuscript to betas and CPs? If not, get on that right now.

Okay, so you did that. Now can you query your dream agent?

Well…you could, but why not wait a little longer?

Look, I know it sounds annoying and counter-intuitive. Agents can take up six to eight weeks to get back to you, and frequently their response time is even longer. So why wait to submit your work to the person you want to hear back from the most?

The simple answer is, if this is your first time querying, you probably aren’t as prepared as you think you are. I recently celebrated the first anniversary of when I started querying the manuscript I am still querying. In a caffeine-induced haze, I thought it would be fun to look back at the first query letter I ever sent and oh lordy. Not only was it over a page long and read like a synopsis, it also clocked my manuscript as coming in at 167,000 words. Yikes. At the time, though, I felt like my work was completely perfect and it’d be signed by the first agent who saw it. Obviously, it was not.

What I learned from this is to start with my middle-interest agents – people I thought might be a 50-75% fit for my work – just to get some practice. Why submit the version of my work that has the highest chance of rejection to the person I want to love it the most? Even after sending thirty queries, I’m still adjusting my entire query package. Not everyone does this, but as I’m querying a work that feels done, I’m still having other CPs and betas read it. My manuscripts are constantly evolving. So by the time I’ve queried maybe ten middle-interest agents, I am much more confident in my work and am ready to send it to Dream Agents.

My disclaimer, though, is that the writing, revising, and querying process is very different for everyone. Some people send five queries, get full requests on all of them, and find their agent within a couple of months. Some people query for years and never get anywhere. You don’t have to make your process the same as anyone else’s, or take anyone else’s advice. If this is your first time querying, it can be daunting. So maybe send some practice queries first. You never know what might happen.

4 comments:

  1. My very first query, ever, went to an agent with a reputation for rapid (less than an hour) turnaround time. I knew my manuscript was not likely to land with her, but I wanted to get 'blooded,' so to speak. I got my first rejection that day. I think the agent that I thought I really, really wanted got her query around #10 or so. Honestly, at some point you just have to pull the trigger and do it. There's always a reason to wait, and you can end up waiting your way right out of an opportunity if you're not careful.

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  2. This post was right on target! It hit key areas I think most of us struggle with: You're not as prepared as you think you are. And since I don't have betas or CPs to judge a good query letter, I have to rely upon my own judgement and online sources. I of course, thought it was great. Well, a number of rejections later, I have revised it several times. So, thanks for this insight. It helps.

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  3. I just started the querying process. I looked back at my first two queries I sent out and cringe! I made all the rookie errors!
    Ciara
    https://ciaraoneal.weebly.com

    ReplyDelete
  4. I just started the querying process. I looked back at my first two queries I sent out and cringe! I made all the rookie errors!
    Ciara
    https://ciaraoneal.weebly.com

    ReplyDelete

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