Let The Query Games Begin!

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Now that the final draft of my novel is complete, it’s time to start pitching! This is no easy task as finding the right agent is a lot like trying to buy the perfect pair of jeans – there is only one that will fit perfectly.

Over the last few months, I’ve compiled a list of possible agencies and agents that might be interested in representing my work. Even with a small list, there is a lot to keep track of in terms of submission requirements and information about specific agents. To stay organized, I created a spreadsheet that lists everything I need to remember before, during, and after my query letter is out of the gate.

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The first column is pretty basic with the agency name, but I get a little more detailed in the second column. This is where I list a specific agent within the agency along with a contact e-mail. In addition, I included quoted material from his or her profile that reminds me why I think he or she might be interested in my novel. I figure I can use this information to personalize my query letter to that particular agent.

The third column includes submission data such as requirements specific to the agent/agency and any actions I have taken. Not only does this save me the time of having to constantly revisit agency websites, but it ensures I avoid making the monumental mistake of sending my query letter more than once to the same agent.

The last column is where I record my current status with a given agent/agency. I suspect I’ll be adding the word “rejected” throughout this column, but the optimist in me knows I only need one box to read “full manuscript request.”

My system might be tad over-organized, but that’s how I roll. Once things start happening, I’m sure I’ll add a color-coding component in the Status column!

Luck has a lot to do with landing an agent, but a little organization can’t hurt, either!

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How do you stay organized in your writing life?

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c.b.w. 2013

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30 thoughts on “Let The Query Games Begin!

  1. Congratulations, C.B.! You must be so excited about taking such a big step towards fulfilling your ambition to get published. I know you have the perseverance and determination to succeed, it’s just a matter of time now.

    I’m looking forward to the day you send out a celebratory post that your novel’s been picked up! You’ve earned this!

    • Excited and terrified! However, the last few years have been all about getting to this point. I’ve grown some thick skin from handling rejections and learned a thing or two about how the industry works, which will hopefully serve me well as I navigate through the frightening waters of publishing! At the same time, I can’t wait to take on the challenge. :-)

  2. I don’t think it’s overkill at all. I have tried to figure out a system for keeping track of agents I want to query, from pieces of paper to notepad docs typed up. Most of the time I misplace them, or in my case, I don’t query so the agency either goes out of business or stops accepting unsolicited manuscripts…… So I think your system is really smart. I may have to try it once the summer slows down and I have a moment to work on my things.

    I applaud you and I hope that good things come from this. :)

      • It’s amazing how you start writing, then the scribbling ends up in the margins, and in between lines till you look back later and wonder what the heck it was you were getting at, even if it’s just information. My ‘manuscripts’ always end up with writing in the margins, curving around the page, and in lines. It eventually becomes a mess.

        And thank you.

  3. So excited for you! When I finally get to that point, I’m going to have to remember this. I’m a semi-organized person, so a spreadsheet like this would come in very handy!

  4. Excellent, C.B. I love how you share all of this with us. We are rooting for you! I haven’t queried a book, but I keep track of submitted stories to contests and magazines using good ol’ Microsoft Excel. I’m trying to create something that is more fun to look at, but until then, I’ll be using Excel.

  5. Yahoo!!!!! This is big, this starting the query process. I am excited that you’ve started getting your letters out there….that’s one step closer to being able to read your novel 😊!!!!

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