Things to Consider When Querying
1. Complete Your Book
Agents and editors for fiction rarely work with authors who don’t have completed manuscripts. Before you start the process of contacting them, make certain you’ve created the very best book you can. This means writing, rewriting, getting feedback, implementing the feedback that works for your book, and so on. With the numerous inquiries agents and editors receive, it’s vital to have the very best book you can.
This is hugely important. Without having the right knowledge of who to query with what information, you’ll end up with more rejections than you need to along with wasting your time and the agent or editor’s time. Researching how to query, including what to include in your query in general, and what to have in your query for specific people, not only saves you time, but in the long run helps you stand out from the crowd of emails coming in their inboxes in a good way. You can also find things out such as: what a query even is and what it’s not, what certain agents may or may not like, how to approach querying, what genre your book falls under, what your word count should be, who not to query, and so much more. All of these things can make a difference in how you come across to an agent—in a better way.
3. Get Feedback
Not only is it important to get feedback on your book, but once you have you manuscript all ready to go, you should write and get other people’s thoughts on your query. By getting feedback, it will help you to know what is and isn’t working. Like the things that are so deeply ingrained in your head that you can’t see need fixed and how to fix them. This step can be of great assistance in having a clear, concise submission package that will gain attention.
4. Don’t Set Your Heart on a Specific Person
By this I mean, it’s okay to have your dream editor or agent, but sometimes the person we think might be our dream, actually isn’t the best person to champion our book. We want to find someone that will help us in taking the book as far as it can go. An agent or editor that is passionate about your book, sees its potential, and knows how to move forward with it, is the dream agent or editor you really want. Be willing to have some flexibility.
5. Be Professional
I can’t stress this enough. It’s important to treat this as you would a business, because that’s what you’re trying to make your writing. A profession you make money from. As such, it’s important to treat your query letter like you would at another job. You want to be polite, but not too familiar. What’s more, you should never, ever fight back against a rejection. Agents and editors have a job to do, and that means turning down even some really great manuscripts. Don’t take it out on them. Burning bridges with one can spread to others as the publishing community is a small place. Be known for your kindness and professionalism.
6. Keep Track
By keeping track of your queries, you’ll have an easier time knowing things like, who you’ve queried, how long ago, if they had any special things for you to do or connections with them you need to keep in mind, if you should nudge them with a reminder email or not, who has requested materials, and many other things. There are great websites out there to help you keep track, feel free to contact us to find out what. Or you can use your own creation such as a spreadsheet. Either way, it’s helpful to have a way to keep track of everything you’ll have going on.
7. Continue Writing
Though it’s hard to move on when you don’t know where your querying project is, one of the best thins you can do to pass the time is to continue writing. Besides assisting you keeping your mind off all those queries you have out there, working on the next project means you’ll be ready to go for the next stage. Whether this means having another manuscript to query when you decide to shelf your other book for the time being or letting your agent or editor know you’ve got more awesomeness like that first book coming. Just be sure that you’re working on a new series. So many changes can still happen to that first book you wrote, you don’t want to spend time writing a second when it may change completely. Mostly though, write on!
8. Mourn Rejections
When those rejections come in (because for 99.9% of writers, they will come) it’s okay to mourn. It’s a loss. You’ve spent X amount of time working on this project, pouring some of yourself into it. When things don’t go the way you expect or hope, allow yourself the sense of loss—just don’t do it publicly like on social media or your website. When you are telling the world you’re getting rejections, and then those you’ve queried look you up, they’ll wonder why they should take a book others rejected. This isn’t to say make your social media all bubbles and cake. Be real, but also be attentive of what you say. Mourn with those writers and people in your life you trust.
9. Celebrate Triumphs
When those triumphs come (because for writers who persist, they will come), celebrate! Don’t let anything stop you from finding joy in accomplishing something you’ve worked toward. Whether it’s getting personalized feedback, partial requests, full requests, a call from an agent or editor, a revise and resubmit, an offer for your book, or something else, those are steps in the right direction. Sometimes they aren’t what we want them to be, and it’s alright to mourn that part, but also celebrate the act of moving forward. No matter what happens, take time to enjoy those achievements along the way.
If you’d like more in depth help with preparing to query and more, schedule a coaching call with us today. If you want more content on writing, publishing, and marketing, consider following us on Patreon where you will gain access to everything from more comprehensive posts, a community just for writers with Allyson and Janeal as mentors, Q&As, Writing Help, Books, and more!
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