by Fae Rowen
Those of you who love to query will think , “Eleven queries? Big deal.” But this is the first time I’ve ever sent out “cold” queries. I’ve always had a request when I sent out proposals before.
Why stop at eleven? Well, they were the eleven people I most wanted to represent me. I would be delirious to “get the call” from any one of them. They also were the first eleven people to make it onto my agent spreadsheet list. And after sending out those eleven queries I was whipped, so I stopped. I had no more names on my list.
What if I sent out fifty queries and got a response from someone that wasn’t one of my first choices? Of course, I’d freak. And I’d turn into a crazy woman waiting for a response from one of my dream agents. Yes, I know I can ask someone to wait while I consider another offer, but how long is it polite to keep someone on the line? Just waiting, hoping some else asks for a full then likes it enough to represent me? We know how long that can take.
I know the argument: You just want an agent; send out a wave of queries and respond to those who want to see more. It’s a numbers game and the more you send out the better your chances. Kind of like buying lotto tickets.
Except for not all agents are equal. In a lottery, the jackpot is the jackpot. You win, you take it all. In the agent lottery, not all agents are equal. Some are good, some are amazing, and some, well, some may not be right for me. So I researched and developed a sort of “draft” system for my queries.
Does that mean I won’t be thrilled with an agent I query later? Absolutely not. I’ll be thrilled with any agent from my list. Why? Because I critique my agents like I critique chapters from Laura, Jenny, Sharla, and Orly. I read their blogs, who they represent, what they’ve sold recently. And I’m picky. Heck, my first round got narrowed down to only eleven names.
Yes, my method is possibly slower as far as results go. Might I change my mind if I query for a year and need to keep querying? Sure, it won’t be the first time I’ve changed my mind about something important. But, for now, I want to hold the reins a little tighter with a smaller net. My husband’s a fisherman, so I know about casting a wide net. And I also know that many of the fish you catch in that wide net are not fish you want to keep. Especially in the first days of a long fishing trip.
So, in a couple of weeks I’ll sit down and send out my Round Two queries to the next set of people I really want to represent me. People that I’ve learned about in the month since I sent out the first queries. Like my first round, it will include new agents, experienced agents and, hopefully, a couple of dream agents. There are not a lot of agents who represent science fiction romance, and I know that if someone doesn’t enjoy reading the genre, they shouldn’t represent me.
Next Wednesday Orly Konig Lopez will argue for the other half of this throwdown. I must admit, she’s having great success with her method. But I could never survive the insanity I would cause for myself with that approach. Maybe it’s my control issues, maybe it’s my “newness” to the whole query business. Whatever it is, for now, my system works for me. If I’m still looking for an agent this time next year, I’ll probably have a different approach.
Don’t worry; you’ll be the first to know when one of my queries hits the jackpot! There will be screaming and shouting and happy dancing for all.
Have you been reluctant to query? Are you waiting on queries–on a lot of queries? How do you handle the query process and maintain your sanity?