I know it’s been a while, but I just finished querying my first book. No, I did not get an agent this time around (fingers crossed for my next book!), but I learned tons of great tips along the way. And luckily for you, I’m going to share them in my next few blog posts!
These blog posts will focus on querying. But rather than discussing how to write a query or querying strategies, I wanted to focus on other smaller pieces of advice that seem to get overlooked.
For my first blog post, I’m sharing some general insights I gathered throughout the process. I hope it helps anyone and everyone in/about to dive into the query trenches!
General Querying Tips
- Pitch contests like #pitmad and #DVpit can be very helpful. However, if you get a whole slew of likes, it doesn’t guarantee that you’ll get agented. It *does* mean that your pitch is well-written and there’s interest in your overall concept (which is great!).
On the flip side, if you don’t get many likes, that’s fine too. Many concepts don’t do well in pitch form. Therefore, never forget that cold querying works and that #pitmad and #DVpit aren’t the only way to get an agent.
- Only query agents that you would absolutely accept an offer from. If you’re not sure you want to work with an agent, do not submit to them. It saves both of you time and mental energy.
- Don’t have a dream agent. If you have your hopes set on just one agent, you’re more likely to get disappointed. There are too many wonderful agents to get caught up on just one. (I spoke more on this topic in my previous blog post HERE)
- Check your spam folder!!! Several emails from agents ended up in my spam folder. I use gmail, so I thought I’d be safe… but nope! Agents have very odd-looking emails that even gmail will flag as spam from time to time. I decided to check mine on a weekly basis since my spam folder clears itself every month.
- Query Tracker is a blessing and a curse. I didn’t pay for the premium subscription, but I looked at “average response times” and the comments on agents. Try not to spend your whole day on that website (it only increases worrying and anxiety).
- Don’t always believe Query Tracker response times. Sometimes they’re very accurate and sometimes, they’re absolutely not (especially with no response = no agents). So try not to stress too much about timing.
- If the agent doesn’t typically respond, I considered my query a rejection after 2 months (I’ll have data to back this up with in my next post). If they responded after that, great! Otherwise, it helped me have my own mental guideline on when to stop holding out hope.
General Querying Tips (with a focus on Emotional Well-Being)
- Don’t self-reject!!! Never say you’re not good enough to query a great agent. Never count yourself out on someone who may not be looking for “exactly” what you have. They may surprise you, especially if their wish lists are vague.
I was surprised by several agents who asked for my full since I originally didn’t think they’d be interested.
That being said, make sure they’re accepting your age range and genre. That’s normal research.
- There is always a factor of luck during querying. Being a talented writer or having a great idea can only get you so far. Luck and good timing will take you the rest of the way. So don’t give up (and make sure you read the next section of this blog post!)
- There will be a period of time where you will think your book sucks because of the number of rejections you’ll receive. I’ve heard a request rate of 20% is really great but even if you hit that rate you’re still hearing “no” 80% of the time. This *does* wear on you.
Surround yourself with people who can lift you up and reassure you that your book isn’t crap and that you’re not crap. And have this discussion *Privately*. You should not talk about your querying woes publicly on social media. Agents can see it and it doesn’t reflect well on you.
The Number One Piece of Advice While Querying:
While you’re querying WORK ON YOUR NEXT PROJECT. I cannot bold and underline that statement enough.
If this book you’re currently querying doesn’t end up being “the one”, wouldn’t it be awesome to have the next one almost ready to query when you finish querying your current project? You can’t control the luck you have while querying but you can control your writing. The only true commonality between every author’s successful querying experience is… none of them gave up.
And in case you’re an eternal optimist like me (and you want to view writing your next book in a more positive light), I’ve heard of multiple authors that had to pitch a second book concept after they got agented. This was for for a 2 book deal which they LANDED. How cool is that?
Bottom line, go and write your next book!!!
More Query Tips to Come!
Keep an eye out in the coming weeks for a few more blog posts on querying. They’ll be focusing on:
- Response time averages and a look into my request/rejection numbers… with graphs! (because I’m a nerd and spreadsheets are my jam)
- Tips to keep everything organized while you’re querying
Have a great day!