Friday, May 30, 2008

Query Widely (TM/MS)


Woodstork,
photo by Fritz Polking.


Nearly time to query, dearie.

Seems writers in the query process fall into three distinct categories: small, medium and large. That is to say: timid, moderate and enthusiastic. Or cautious, confident, and impatiently whatthehell.

Some will query a single agent/editor and wait patiently for a reply before moving on. Some sent out queries in batches -- say five/ ten at a time -- before selecting the next set. Others, apparently, query blast with exuberance any agency/house whose guidelines might remotely fit the genre in question.

Most professionals probably recommend the intermediate approach; but,
when one thinks of all the pro and cons connected with each method -- particularly highly variable response times and the inherent subjectivity of this business -- there is really no One Best Way.

Except: keep the query short, get the name right, keep a careful spread sheet, and keep going.

54 comments:

laughingwolf said...

good advice, my friend....

kmfrontain said...

I wish you good luck with the task, however you approach it.

haunted author said...

Good Luck!

I think the query might be harder to write than the novel!

Bernita said...

Mileage may vary, Laughingwolf!

Karen, thank you.I intend to be cautiously moderate.

Bernita said...

Thank you, Haunted.
Some feel so. I don't.
It's more like writing a crucial scene.

Ric said...

Get it out there, kick ass, take names, all the regular cliches.

I think your reputation will have preceded you - you won't have any problem at all.

Good luck - the next step on our way to Times Square.

Rick said...

Go!

Bernita said...

My reputation?
O Iago!
I don't have one.
Funny, Ric,I was thinking fondly of Times Square this morning!

Just putting on my seat belt and playing with the sun visor, Rick.

writtenwyrdd said...

Looking for submission possibilities drives me crazy. But I'm with you, only a few at a time is best.

Bernita said...

Eh, Written!
In spite of the talk about "good fits" and all that,it's still a gamble. One can't really know until one has been down the road with an agent.

Demon Hunter said...

Very great advice as always, Bernita. :*) I know where to come whern I finally rewrite my WIP from scratch. ;*)

StarvingWriteNow said...

good luck with query-ing!

Bernita said...

demon dear, not "my" advice - just basic bits from what I've read.

Thank you, WriteNow."Luck" is what's needed.

Robyn said...

Just remember to take a nice shot of chocolate or wine or whatever helps as you click that send button. ;)

Bernita said...

Hee, Robyn!
Probably I'll just go pull weeds or fold laundry.

Jaye Wells said...

Go, Bernita, go!

Bernita said...

Thank you, Jaye, she said, peering though the dust!

December/Stacia said...

Oh, good luck Bernita! Bet you $5 somebody snaps you up within two months, tops.

jjdebenedictis said...

Good luck, Bernita! I'm sure your query will be succinct, perfectly worded and elegant, just like your writing. May Stacia take your $5! :-)

Travis Erwin said...

Good luck to you. My letters will be going out soon as well. Some agent could read ours back to back and hopefully say to themselves, "Query letters are getting much better these days."

Bernita said...

Sweet of you, December. Be prepared to fork it over though!

And you're a sweetheart too, JJ! Thank you.

That's a nice thought, Travis. I've no doubt some lucky agent will grab you right off.

Charles Gramlich said...

Yes, good luck. Back when I tried for Cold in the Light I did the intermediate approach. I did get an agent at one point but they retired 2 months later because of illness.

December/Stacia said...

Nope, this is awesome. Because when you get an agent I get $5. It's almost like being a lazy pimp.

jason evans said...

Querying is such an exciting time.

Bernita said...

Thank you, Charles. Luck seems to be a big, big factor.

You make me feel good, December, with a vote like that. Still, I suspect you'll be out the money.

Er..."interesting" is the word I'd choose, Jason!

laughingwolf said...

it does indeed, hourly... for me ;)

Gabriele C. said...

Good luck with your queries.

spyscribbler said...

Wow. This is a perfect post.

Bernita said...

For many of us I suspect, Laughingwolf!

Gabriele, thank you.

Thank you, Natasha.
~she's daft...~

raine said...

...and keep going.

Think I missed that day in class, lol.

Agree with the cautious to moderate approach, if only because it's good to know what agent or publisher you really want, rather than engaging in a crapshoot.

I've no doubt you'll be snapped right up. Your talent gleams.

Sarah Hina said...

I have a lot of faith in your snatching up an agent, Bernita. But good luck, anyway!

I think I was a bit of a querying slut; should have been a bit more demure at the outset. ;)

Bernita said...

You're much more optimistic than I, Raine - but thank you. Hugely.

Sarah, thank you.
~another kind optimist~
"Query slut"!!!
~giggles~

bookfraud said...

the only "best way" is the one that works. ask a million agents and you'll probably get a million answers.

are there a million literary agents in the world?

the intermediate approach probably works best, though, from a mental health standpoint. when you get a rejection, at least you can assuage your feelings by thinking, "there's still eight more out there!" until slowly, rejection by rejection, you are crushed. or at least i am.

Bernita said...

Book, you should never let it "crush" you.
You learn and you write soemthing else.

Ello said...

I like querying in small batches at a time. The first round I got half way through my list and got enough feedback that I decided to stop querying and save the rest of the agents for when I revised again.

Steve Malley said...

I recommend "Sonar" from Spacejock Software. It's a free program well-designed to help track writing submissions!

Good Luck with the queries!!

cindy said...

i hit 121 agents.

*hides*

my final piece of advice, if a writer is thinking of quitting, ask yourself "have i given my novel the chance that it deserves?"

if you still feel the passion, keep going!

wishing you oodles of luck, b!!! this is very exciting!!!

Bernita said...

~nods~
Ello,feedback is a main and valuable advantage that may accrue from small batch queries.

Steve, thank you.

Bernita said...

And Cindy, your agent made a lovely sale.
How horrible if you had stopped at, say, 100!

cindy said...

bernita, agent bill was the 38th one i queried. but the thing is, how would i *know*? he could easily have been the 68th. my first queries were more tailored to agents whom i *thought* would love my novel. but little did i know...

*spinkles lucky querying dust***
the best of luck, this is a huge moment. yay!

Suzanne Perazzini said...

Good luck, Bernita.
I have just sent out 12 agent queries on my latest manuscript so I guess I take the middle route. I had 4 quick rejections and nothing since but it's only been a week so I will be patient. Thank you, Cindy for reinforcing not to give up after the first batch.

Bernita said...

Cindy, thank you so much!
And especially for sharing this. A lot of people quit after a couple of dozen.
You are an inspiration.

Suzanne, you should sent out 4 more. Immediately.

Sam said...

GOOD LUCK!
I am no good at queries, so I take any advice I can get. One place to go for advice (and it's terrific) is here:
http://queryshark.blogspot.com/

Bernita said...

Sam, thank you for posting the link.
I have it on my favourites but others might not.
A worthy successor to our dear Miss Snark.

ChrisEldin said...

Wow! This is interesting. I started out querying one by one. Then when I did a few batches as you say, I thought I was really blanketing the industry.
*ducks and hides in shame*

Reading Cyn's comment about 38, that's very helpful.

Good luck with this exciting part of the process!!!
:-)

ChrisEldin said...

P.S. EE really whipped my query into shape. I've had almost 100% rate of requests after his suggested edits. But alas, I think I might need him for my manuscript....
;-)

Bernita said...

Thank you, Chris.
Cindy proves that one should not give up too soon.

Chumplet said...

I like to send in batches, then make small changes to see what works best. If the rejections improve, I know my query has improved.

Good luck, Bernita! Your understated wisdom and quiet confidence have surely wiggled their way into the hearts of many agents, and they will surely give you an extra look. Not to mention your superior writing!

Bernita said...

~hugs Sandra~

BernardL said...

Like the Snark always said, query widely and often. They can only say no, and the rejections are penalty free. :)

Bernita said...

In a nutshell, Bernard.

sex scenes at starbucks said...

Without going into details that query recievers might discern from reading this, one steadfast rule I hold to, and which has served me well, is a twenty-four hour pout period for rejections. Then I drop whatever I'm doig and get back up on the horse. Good luck!

Whirlochre said...

Hope your query
is what
they wanna
heary

Bernita said...

"a twenty-four hour pout period"
That's cute, SS!
Probably I'll have a lot of those.

Thank you, deary.
That is cheery.
The time is neary
when I'll be bleary.