The Writing Lifestyle: Querying

Ah, querying.  When you make the choice to go from writing for a hobby to writing to be published, querying will start to take up a lot of your headspace.  You'll find yourself Googling agents, buying Writers' and Artists' Yearbooks (or your nation's equivalent), using sites like Query Shark to hone your query writing skills, and Query Tracker to find agents seeking the genre you write.

Now, when you get to querying, keeping track of it all can be a challenge. You can use the Query Tracker site to do exactly that, but I'd rather not have that all online and instead use a good old spreadsheet format. How you lay yours out is totally up to you, but here's how I do it:

Click so you can read it ;)

When I've contacted an agent, I also change the colour of the text and make it bold so I can instantly tell without checking dates.  If I get a full request, I'll put that in the notes section along with the date.  If it's a rejection, I move all the details onto a separate rejection page in the spreadsheet file.  I will also date when I received the rejection or, if I've never heard back, note that down, too.  So far, Colony has waaaaay less silence than Resistance.  I'm taking that as a good sign ;) Remember, some agents have a "if you haven't heard from me in x amount of time, I'm sorry to say I've passed." Be sure to keep track of that in your spreadsheet.

It's important to know where to find support while you're going through this, because it is hard and it will hurt and you will need to rant about it on occasion - TO PEOPLE WHO AREN'T THE AGENTS REJECTING YOU. Never, ever, ever send a rude e-mail to an agent. They don't have to like your book and they also don't have to tell you why. Yeah, I know it's unfair when agents insist you call them by name but send you a "Dear Author" rejection. It sucks, but you'll have to suck it up and deal with it. It is not, and never will be, a personal thing.  Rejection of your book is not rejection of you as a person. Don't throw a tantrum at the agent. It stuns me when agents tweet or blog about the rude responses they get from writers. Do people really think sending agents nasty emails is going to make the agents turn around and go "you're right, I am a stuck up bitch and, oh golly gosh, was I ever wrong about your astonishing piece of groundbreaking literature"? Of course they won't. DON'T DO THAT!

This has been a Public Service Announcement Brought to you by Cole Burke, who will take out all of her frustrations on bad guys in videogames, won't I, Lara? :D

Best. In-Game. Weapon. EVER!

Do you know who understands the highs and lows of the querying process? Other writers. One of the best things about attending YALC in July was chatting with Emma Adams and sharing our querying pain.  You can talk to about it with non-writers, and of course they can sympathise and offer hugs, chocolate and other things to cheer you up, but no one understands it quite like a fellow rejected writer. If you can meet up and discuss in person, do it. Otherwise, do it via e-mails or PMs on Twitter. Or, if you are going to blog about it (Hello!), don't mention specifics. Imagine an agent considering representation decides to check out your blog, only to find post after post ranting about the evils of particular agents who rejected your perfectly wonderful book. That's not going to give the best impression of you, is it?

Chin up! You've got to keep on trying, hard as it is, saddening and maddening as it is, because there is an agent out there who will want your book. You've just got to fight on and find them.

Good luck!

Comments

  1. Oooh, another member of Team Spreadsheet! I'll have to send you a screenshot of mine later tonight. It's quite similar, but I use colours (PRETTY COLOURS), a grading system (because the list is alphabetical so I can check if any shiny new agents are already on there) and a column for their sub format (getting a bit redundant now, I'm only e-mail querying now, snail mail is too much hassle).

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    1. High five, teammate!

      Snail mail is such a hassle. I haven't bothered with this book, although many of the agencies who insisted upon it 2 years ago now only accept emails. Times are changing! :D

      SEND IT TO ME!!!!!

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  2. Yay for spreadsheets and writerly discussions on querying woes! ^_^ Sometimes it's so difficult to explain the querying process to non-writers!

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    1. It really is. They're like "Maybe you should take a break" and I'm all "NEVER!!!!!!!!! I WILL CONTINUE THIS UPHILL STRUGGLE! NEVER SURRENDER!!!!!" Then I charge off in the direction of the nearest hill with my battle cry echoing all around.

      ^_^

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  3. My spreadsheet is color coded. The first wave went out to the agents on my list with the fasted response time earlier this month. So like 1-6 weeks, I've only heard back from a couple, so I'm probably going to get hit with all of them at once within the next couple weeks.
    Good luck with querying. We're all rooting for you. :D

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    1. Yeah, I tend to get them in bulk, so I'll have a few days when all the rejections or requests (it's been a real mixture!) come flooding in all at once.

      Thanks! You'll all know the good news someday soon, I hope ^_^

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  4. Another spreadsheet user here :). I include columns ranking the agent and the agency in terms of how much I'd like to work with them. That way I can sort it and send queries out in batches, starting with those on the top of my list.

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    1. A friend of a friend used the same method, and he wound up signing with the agent at the bottom of his list. Funny how life works out sometimes.

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  5. I need to go back to speadsheets. I used to have a whole workbook dedicated to queries (one sheet for possible agents, one for sent queries, one for requests, and one for rejections), but then I started using Querytracker because it seemed easier. I'm getting really tired of having to clear out all my information whenever I want to do a new project, though.

    Good luck with querying!

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    1. Yeah, I have a workbook too. I've thought about using QT, but I prefer to transfer the info onto my own spreadsheet. I didn't realise you had to clear QT out like that. It would definitely put me off!

      Thanks! Best of luck to you, too ^_^

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  6. My spreadsheet looks really similar and it works really well for me. Haha - I loved your videogame venting. A perfectly reasonable reaction. ;)

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    1. ^_^ It's a very helpful rejection tool.

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