Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Building a List of Agents to Query

Recently a good friend asked me how I decided who to send queries to. It's a time consuming process, but I believe the idea is to learn as much about an agent before you query. They want to feel like you took the time to find out who they are and what they like. They want to feel as special as we want to feel. The only way to do that is put in your time. At least that's my philosophy at this point.

Step One: Find some names. I like QueryTracker, but there are other places you can look for agents.  Query Tracker has three ways to search: genre, specific agent or agency, and how they receive submissions and such. Below I typed in my genre. Since I write a science fantasy mix, I added both genres to make sure I've covered my bases. (sorry the pictures are blurry, I'm new to this whole print screen thing)

Hit search and this is what comes up.
I now have a list of names, their agency, and I can see if they accept regular mail (envelope) or email (lightning bolt) queries.


Step 2: Research one of those names. I clicked on Sara LaPolla (she was farther down the list). When you click on a name you are taken to this screen where you get more information.
 Now I have her email, a link to her agency web page, her blog and I can follow her on twitter. I check out all of these links, and I follow blog and twitter. This helps me get a feel for her personality.

You also see the tabs across the top. Clicking on these will give you information that Query Tracker has collected based on information submitted by users of the site. For example, reports will show you how many people on Query Tracker sent in a query, how long it took for them to get a response and what that response was.
Check out the other tabs. For now, let's go to her agency page.
Yay, more official information. While I am at an agency's page, I often browse other agents to see if there are other names that might fit with my style. If I find some, I type in their name on the query tracker search and add them to my list.

I also click on the submissions link. This tells me what they expect to see with my query and any formatting specifics if there are any.

Alright, I also check out her blog and follow on twitter.
I have a list for agents. See. This way I can have a column for just agent tweets on my tweet deck (I'll save that for another post). READ. LEARN. A lot of agent bloggers will tell you exactly what the like and don't like to see in a query. Good stuff to know.

Step 3: Keep track of what you find. I put the pertinent information in a document for easy access. For some reason I started in Notepad, but will switch to word so I can color code things. For now here is my notepad doc.
You can see Sarah here at the bottom. Whenever I learn something new, or she says something I think will help when I query her, I will add it to this document.

Step 4: Write and send the Query. This is where I am. I'm terrified. I'm putting it off. Why? I don't know. I just am. :) Soon. My deadline to send my first batch of queries is September 1st. The kids go back to school the end of August. Until then, I'm adding to my list of people I want to query.

NOTE: Krista V over at Mother. Write. (Repeat). has interviewed several agents. Scroll down on the right hand sidebar to see who and read what they are looking for.

Q4U:How do you collect information? Where do you look? Have you sent that first query off into the world?

11 comments:

  1. Great resources here for queries. Thanks :-)

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  2. Charity, this is such useful information! I can only dream about querying right now, and while I'm already shaking in my literary boots, I didn't think going to query tracker at this point would be useful. But with all the research involved in finding an agent, maybe I should get my patootie in gear.

    Good luck! While I know this is your baby, if you walk into it remembering that it's 99% rejection until you find the agent, you can keep up hope, right? So just do it! :) I've got my fingers crossed for you (if for not other reason than I needed another cliche in my post :)

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  3. I just started looking around on Query Tracker. You're so organized--thanks for the tips! And good luck :)

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  4. Thanks for walking us through this. What a helpful post. I looked for a tweet this button, but couldn't find one. I'll go see if you mentioned it in your own tweets and retweet. Have a great day. :)

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  5. Charity, this is FANTASTIC! Thank you. I just have an excel spreadsheet to track who I want to contact, how to contact them, what materials each wants and a few brief notes. Your idea of blog hopping and interview reading is great. I think I need to expand my current system this query-go-round!

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  6. Querying agents is my least favourite thing to do in a the world but it's got to be done. I think this is a very interesting list for people who've never gone through the process or ever people who have but want a fresh approach.

    Jai

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  7. I love this post!!!! I will be querying this fall. I have signed up for query tracker and now I need to use it. I'm so glad you are letting us know how you are doing it! =)

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  8. Thanks everyone! My friend Michelle asked me what I was doing to find agents and I thought I would share it with everyone.

    Rosie, start now! I wish I had a larger list ready to go. I'm going to spend some time tonight researching new names.

    Laurel, I love the excel idea! How organized is that. I can still color code everything and add new columns whenever I need to. Thanks!

    MT, I added the "tweet this" button back on. I'm flattered you thought about tweeting it. Yay!

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  9. I love Query Tracker. I have a post about it, too! Come check me out. I'm signing on.

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  10. You're very organized.

    I used Agentquery mostly and then kept track of correspondence on a spreadsheet.

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  11. Charity, Thank you so much! That was FANTASTIC! It really broke it down well and I feel like I know where I need to go next - - - reading blogs and finding out more personal info. Thank you Charity!
    Michele

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