Thursday, 1 March 2018

Query, Query Query

I am currently in the process of sending query letters to agents for my fifth book, which is my first novel. I need a different agent than I had in the early days, which sometimes happens.

Agents are approached multiple times every day, week after week, by people (like me) who feel they have the next best-seller. Because the publishing industry is so crowded with writers and publishing options and social media demands, agents need to be selective if they are going to survive the thousands of hours they spend reading people's material. Plus they have existing client-authors who need support, too.

Enter the query letter.

Query letters are not remotely a new thing, but they are certainly the first crucial step in getting published today. Writing queries has practically been called a genre in its own right, probably because it's a huge process with a particular purpose.

I've maintained the best sense of humour and humility I can during this current round of queries, which looks like this:

  • research to find agents and make a long list of possibilities
  • research to shortlist that long list
  • research to become acquainted with those shortlisted agents and agencies
    • what authors and books they represent
    • how I feel about their social media posts, photograph and way of describing themselves
  • create a table that includes who they are, what they want & how they want it, when they do and do not want it, if and when they responded
  • simultaneously, or before, also research query letters
    • how to write them
    • how not to write them
    • what winning queries look like
  • write what feels like fifty query letters that actually survive the trash bin
    • send several versions to very patient and supportive friends and family members
    • check to make sure one's skin is thick enough to listen to what they say
  • further hone the query letter for general purposes
  • read the manuscript what feels like fifty times to find the best sample, as per agents' expectations, and check each time for typos and better word choices...ad infinitum
  • hold one's breath and decide, agonizingly, which agent(s) to query first (Just do it, for Pete's sake!!)
  • tweak the query to match the agent's requirements
  • tweak the writing sample to match the agent's requirements
  • gasp for breath after hitting Send
  • somehow don't faint from exhaustion
Repeat. Probably numerous times.

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