Friday, July 9, 2010

The Query Hangover

It happens sometimes.  There’s no rhyme or reason but when the mood hits, you often find yourself waking up the next morning and thinking “ What the hell did I do last night ?  What was I thinking?”

I got bit by the querying bug at around 8 pm yesterday and from then on it was a fractured frenzied ride through Querytracker.com- Double hotmail windows, and copy and paste galore-  By the time I finished it was after ten and I had sent out a total of……TEN queries!  Das right.  Between the researching, the reading, and the actual formatting of the emails, it took me almost two hours to accomplish that much.  “Oh yes!” I thought to myself as I blinked computer dust out from my eye orbits.  “This is why I query so sporadically. This SUCKS!”

My query journey began…about two seconds after I finished my first draft last year.  By some bizarre coincidence, the ‘Writers and Artists Yearbook’ arrived the night I finished my last word of my first book and I thought it was a sign from God himself.  Because I live in France, targeting UK agents seemed the most logical choice.  So I went through the WAY with a fine toothed comb, honed a list of about thirty agents and started sending out PRINTED packages by groups of three.  


Weeks and weeks went by and my snail mail box received a few printed cards with form rejections.  Sometimes I was lucky enough to receive an email reject (so much faster).  I sent out a little over a dozen queries this way before my online search led me to some great agent blogs and writer’s forums.  I then realized that I didn’t have to limit myself to the UK.  American agents accepted queries by EMAIL!!!  And they actually gave you INFORMATION!!  And if you get really really lucky, some will even communicate with you DIRECTLY!!  Holy shit!  I was like a kid in a candy store.

Since then my querying has been pretty sporadic.  My ms has changed a lot.  I’ve written a second since then so now I have two projects to query.  I find that while I wait for a reply on requested material, I take a break from querying.  And then when I get a ‘BIG’ rejection- it’s another look at my ms, more critiquing and more querying.

Last night was a freak occurrence.  I don’t know what came over me.  Honestly, I looked up my lucky letters for the day (in this case it was my initials K and M) and just started querying agents whose names ended with those.  I suppose it’s good in a way.  I queried people I would have never thought to query otherwise and I guess we’ll see what comes of it.

What is your querying groove?  Do you query all at once, or in small doses?  How do you choose your agents, search engines, etc…?

36 comments:

Jen said...

I am not at the querying stage but it was a lot of fun learning how you go about querying, how sparatic you are at times and how organized you were last night. Glad you got the querying bug and I hope it works out!!!

I think the K and M method is super cute too!

Jen said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Stina Lindenblatt said...

For my first novel, I queried two agents at a time. Great at first. Most responded quickly. Then I hit two that took 6 months to get back to me. By then I'd started working on a new book and shelved the other one after querying only 15 agents (and landing one partial then full request). I have no idea why I gave us so quickly. I just needed to join a crit group to polish it some more.

For my wip, I queried in batches of 10, which took me 2-3 hours to do. After several batch and a rewrite for voice, I landed a full request . . . which was rejected with some helpful advice. I've taken a long break to improve my writing and novel, and when I query again this fall, I'm only doing small batches of 5. PLUS I'll be working on my new wip (already outlined), so I'll probably forget I'm supposed to be querying. :D

Janet Johnson said...

Groove? Well, I don't have one yet, but hopefully I will soon. I fear I may be a small dose kind of querier.

And good luck!

Matthew Rush said...

Oh boy, don't worry it happens. At least you selected agents sort of at random and once you get some replies you'll have a better feel for your query once you're ready to contact agents you REALLY want to rep you.

My own experience was way worse. I queried probably fifty agents or more after only one edit of my first draft. My advice to your readers would be take it slow. Query just a couple of agents and once you hear back you'll know if you have to change anything and hopefully will have a clue as to what to change.

Best of luck with your submissions Katie!

Today's guest blogger is Guinevere Rowell!

Piedmont Writer said...

I queried in batches of 10. After I got 7 or so back, I queried again in batches of 10. Partial requests stopped me dead in my tracks but after they came back (rejected) I sent out 10 more.

It never ends. I know what I need to do the ms. to make it better but I'm waiting for some kind of feedback from an agent. So far all form.

After these come back, the ms. is going on a shelf for awhile to concentrate on something else.

Laura Pauling said...

I query in small doses. And then I wait a couple weeks and send out more. I mean - agents say what they want but in the long run that doesn't mean too much. It's about the writing.

April said...

I query in doses...I'll spend a day doing email queries and then several days doing snail mail ones. I hate querying. It's the only part of the process I hate. I'd rather revise forever. haha Congrats on your querying roll last night, though!

Vicki Rocho said...

Not there yet, but I see me doing it in tsunami waves. A bunch now...wait...a bunch more. It would be more sensible to do a couple a day, but since when have I ever been sensible?

Renae said...

I used to query in small doses. that way if I needed to tweak something, I hadn't exhausted all my possibilities. And you are so right about it being a time sucker. I would be researching agents and re-reading my query and two hours would go by. I hated that! Good luck with you newly submitted queries!

Stephanie said...

Yes, the painfully slow process of querying (from researching to tayloring the email) is just another part of the glacial pace in this industry.

I love the lucky letter method, that's a new one to me! :)

Best of luck - I have fingers crossed for you.

Anne R. Allen said...

I query in batches of five. No reason--it just seems to be all I can stand to do at once.

I'm soooo with you on the "hangover" thing. After I send them off, my head hurts, my stomach churns and I get into the whole "what was I thinking" thing.

I do a lot of research on each agent and read all their interviews and whatever I can find on the Web. Sometimes I even order a book by one of their clients and read it before I query.

And you know what? It doesn't help one bit. Last month I got three requests for fulls, and this week I got responses to all of them saying "Excellent writing, well-rounded characters, intriguing plot; nothing wrong with it--but I'm just not passionate..." I think that may be the new form rejection they're all using.

So today I have to start researching 5 more. Sometimes it's just heartbreaking.

Solvang Sherrie said...

I have to do it in small doses. My nerves can't take it any other way. Plus I use the feedback to make changes before I send it out again.

Old Kitty said...

oh wow!! Well done you!! What a querying frenzy-good grief. I wish you well with these - I have everything crossed!!
I'm not in the querying stages yet - I'm still in the fine tuning and feedback stages etc. I'm in AWE with the determination of you writers at the querying stage!!!

Am sending tons of support hugs and cheers!!!

take care
x

February Grace said...

You know, I'm at a crossroads where I'm unsure it's something I ever want to do again.

...and I've only ever queried two agents.

I know, I'm a little girly-writer compared to you tough cookies. I just don't know if I have it in me to do what you guys do. My hat is off to ya.

bru

Clara said...

I`ll start querying by october! I have a list of 15 agents but that will certainly grow! Thanks for the tip of querytracker!

Shelley Sly said...

Hey there! Best of luck with your queries. I queried over a year ago and shamefully sent maybe 20-something queries for my first book, and 2 rejected partials later, realized it just wasn't the right book and the right time. But I used to do batches of 5 queries every 2 weeks.

I'm hoping to query my latest project in September. :)

P.S. I heard somewhere in the blog world that it's "off season" for agents, that many aren't accepting queries over the summer. In your experience, is this true?

Raquel Byrnes said...

Like most of my writing habits, I tend to work in binges. I'd do all the 'hard copy' queries in a day or two -- twenty or so. Then I'd hit the equeries a week later in a night.

That way, the wave of rejections was staggered. Good stuff. =)

Shannon said...

There's a reason I used Queryaddict as my user name on Twitter. I get an absolute rush from sending them out, all along thinking, this is the one, this is the one! I like to use Publishers Marketplace, there is a membership fee but there is tons of information that you just won't find other places. Then I always double check the agent I'm sending to on Preditors and editors. The only thing worse than getting a rejection I think would be getting sucked in by a not so upstanding agent/agency.

DL Hammons said...

I hope to begin querying in August and I'm planning on sending out batches of 5-10. My understanding is that even though you may not hook up with an agent, you may receive feedback that will improve the manuscript, so don't send out too many at a time. :)

Ellie said...

I just stopped by to say "Hello" and now, I'm going to say, "Good Luck" it sounds like hell to write a query. I hope you do receive feedback to help you continue on your journey!!! xXx

Carolyn V. said...

I'm actually still writing my query. It takes so much time!

Lisa K. said...

I go on those querying frenzies periodically too, and I find that I do the same thing with short story submissions. I'll go a few weeks without submitting a single thing and then all of a sudden I'll get into a super-focused mode and crank out half a dozen in a matter of a few hours.

I also wanted to let you know that there's a blog award for you over on my blog! http://bit.ly/9PvSjx

:-)

Lia Victoria said...

I'm not quite ready to query yet... right now, I'm just collecting a big ol' list of agents I like, and I think I'll query them all in one fatal swoop ;].

Btw... you live in France? I am going to Paris this December. It'll be my first time out of the country. Any ideas for fun places to go/things to do? :D

Christine said...

I query whenever I have a project completed, but I recently revisited a former MS and queried it under a different title to another branch in my targeted publishing house. I got a request for a full for that one. I just finished my fourth MS--plot revision is done. I have a decent partial and synopsis ready for it so will send it out as soon as I get the other one prepped for mailing. I've also decided to query out again with every rejection--a new one must go out.

To some extent, it is a numbers game.

You're right. Coming up with the synopsis is tough. Then to encapsulate the entire novel into a 2-3 paragraph letter is even more painful. Congrats on getting so many out there!

Kathryn said...

One of the best resources for me has been the 2010 Guide to Literary Agents. Mecca! I query in bouts as well, but right now, I'm having someone look at my writing for my current MS before I start another bout.

Dawn said...

Great strategy. Before I got my agent, I queried with the cut and paste (with slight alterations) method in groups of 5-10 (depending on the previous week's rejection...). I also used querytracker.com :-) Crossing fingers and toes for you. xo

Julie Musil said...

I query in batches...maybe five at a time. Then I step back for a little bit and wait for responses (aka rejections). The good thing is I keep myself busy with other projects while I wait.

Erin Kane Spock said...

My husband has designated himself the one in charge of marketing my book. It was in effort to let me concentrate on actually writing. I repeatedly bring up that I'd like to do the querying, and he always presents a logical argument why I shouldn't (I'm not objective enough, I need to focus on producing, etc...) I always cave, then get frustrated 2 months or so later. We've been married almost 13 years and he still hasn't figured out I'm a control freak. And I still haven't figured out how to win an argument.

BUT I do read blogs and do research into publishers and agencies and send him the details about who to query.

I hate the process. Somebody give me a contract already! lol

RaShelle said...

Oh, the lovely query. *shivers* I was a lot like you with my first. My next time around, I think I'll try to have a more methodical approach. We'll see. *shivers*

BTW - tag, you're it!!! hee hee.

Hart Johnson said...

Ack! I SO HEAR YOU! I first queried 15 months ago (April) a manuscript I finished the October before and finally felt was ready-- I have SINCE queried a LITTLE in June, a lot in August and a lot in January and have written 5 more books (I know, that makes me sound insane... probably I am) and then got a contract for a book I HAVEN'T yet written... things can happen in strange ways) but currently believe all 6 of my FINISHED books need more editing...

I hope the current queries have good news for you!

Zoe C. Courtman said...

I love that you're sharing so much of your grooves with us :D Not at querying stage yet (Flying Spaghetti Monster willing, I'll begin in September), but imagine I'll do it in small batches. Hurm...or big ones, lol :D

Diane J. said...

I have not hit the querying phase of my book (that's a ways off), but I love how you describe your journeys and I'm making note for when I hit that phase.

notesfromnadir said...

Keep us up to date about your queries. Using your initials is only 1 way to go about it & if it pays off that's great.

A long time ago I read where the author of Thorn Birds, Colleen McCullough, queried an agent by the name of Fishbein as she was having fish for supper that night.

So, whatever moves you at the time, go for it!

Bekah said...

Hilarious! I have done this...then sometimes wondered..."Wait? What did I write in that query? Was it lame? Did I say I love dogs and they had mad agenting skills?" Sometimes the late nights are like drunk querying

Walter Knight said...

While on vacation I saw someone with a blue "UK" T-shirt, so being smooth, I sauntered up to them and started talking about England.

Well, The "UK" they were from was the University of Kentucky. You can't alwayz be smooth.

Try a query to my publisher.

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