Monday, December 31, 2007
Of course, it is far from being done. I will be tweaking and adding things to it for several weeks. I figure I was able to incorporate about two-thirds of the features I wanted to add, so I still have some work ahead of me. If you made a suggestion for a new feature but don't see it, it probably just means I haven't gotten to it yet. If you want to contact me to see if your feature is on the list, please go right ahead.
The first thing most people will likely notice is the new menu system. The original menu became quite cluttered as more and more features were added. This one is cleaner and can grow without getting ugly.
The other thing that stands out almost right away is all the on-screen help. Just put your mouse over any of the yellow question marks to get instant help. Plus, almost any icon also has help attatched, which can be viewed just by placing your mouse over it.
Enjoy and Happy New Year.
Saturday, December 15, 2007
Sadly, I won't have everything done by the deadline, but there is still plenty of new stuff and I am still planning to release everything available on Jan. 1. So, what will be different in QT2? Plenty. Where do I even begin?
- Greatly expanded search tools for searching for agents, including geographic region, and more.
- A system of user-definable "folders" so you can organize agents and queries.
- A Query List page showing all of the agents you have queried, sorted however you want and contained in a tree structure with branches for each manuscript and folder.
- Tracking has been expanded and broken into two categories; query letters and manuscript submissions, so now you can track all phases of your agent quest and view more detailed statistics about each category.
- An agent "Watch" feature which allows you to select agents and be notified if any user adds a comment for that agent or anything about the agent's profile changes.
- Tons of content sensitive help, making it easier to use the system to its fullest potential.
- So many little improvements that I can't even think of them all, but one that has been a big hit with the beta testers is a pop-up status window which displays a quick query status for any query just by moving your mouse over an icon. (Hard to explain, you'll just have to see it to appreciate it.)
- Word-count reports showing each agent's reply history based on the word-count of the manuscript.
- Genre reports showing each agent's reply history based on the genre of the manuscript. (This was previously only available to premium members but in QT2 standard members will have full access to it.)
- Even more detailed search capabilities.
- Additional agent reports.
- Personal statistics showing the statistics or your own queries and submissions, which you can breakdown by manuscript and folder, and view as easy-to-read pie charts.
- The ability to customize reports by selecting your own date ranges so you can view data from any time frame.
- The ability to create your own custom reports based on all the data collected by QT2. You define the criteria and the system will create and display the results for you.
Like I said, I will release the new version Jan. 1, and will continue to add to it after that because there is still so much more I want to do.
Also, note that while creating the new system, I have been very careful to keep the user-interface as similar as possible to that of the old system, so users will not have to relearn a lot of stuff.
The site will likely be unavailable for some time on December 31st while I install the new system. See you then, and I hope you like it.
Thursday, November 22, 2007
Friday, November 9, 2007
Check it out at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8TLmpL2AzLs
Not only is it appropriate and uplifting, but it also reminded me of the old days (those of you old enough to remember E.L.O. will understand.)
Saturday, November 3, 2007
(A note from Patrick. Jason, this is much more focused now. I'm glad I could help, and I am always thankful when a writer asks my opinions and then does not hate me for giving them. Not that I am a harsh editor or anything like that. Right Jason?
I consider this a very important subject for all writers. Those who learn to accept criticism are typically the writers who improve dramatically in their craft, and those who give good critiques improve even more. Just remember, you need to be honest without being harsh. Don't just say something is bad, tell why it is bad and try to give examples of how to improve it. The writer, of course, has the option of acting upon your suggestions or not, but still you are both learning.)
Wednesday, October 31, 2007
Well, I’m a bit behind on this newsletter again, but as usual things on QueryTracker have been busy, and as usual, I am using that as my excuse.
Last month I mentioned that the QueryTracker membership had doubled every month since its inception, and that I hoped we could keep that up. Well, I was skeptical about it at the time since in order to double our membership in October we would have had to sign up 1,500 members. That would have been a lot of new members, and unfortunately we didn’t quite make it. But I’m not disappointed because we came really close and had our best month ever with about 1,000 new members, giving us a total of 2,500+ users. The data pool is also filling up nicely with over 16,000 queries being tracked.
These phenomenal numbers would not have been possible without the kind contributions of our Premium Members. For those of you who don’t know, Premium Members are members who have donated $25 to QueryTracker to help it grow. 100% of all funds collected goes to purchase advertising. This advertising brings in more members and hence more data for everyone. In exchange for their generosity, Premium Members are given access to some advanced features on QueryTracker not available to general members.
I recently ran across a blog that was so full of useful information for writers that I thought I just had to point it out to others. The blog is http://writesabouteverything.blogspot.com/ and it is written by a QueryTracker user named Deborah White. On it you can find information about agent contracts, book rights, query letters, and a lot more. It really is worth looking at. And speaking of worthy blogs, my good friend Jason Robinson has written a very good little article on coping with rejection. It is on the QueryTracker blog at http://querytracker.blogspot.com/2007/10/rejection.html.
New Agents - Guilty Until Proven Innocent
I am asked all the time to add new agents to the QueryTracker database. I encourage users to submit new agents and I’m always happy to add them, but only if they pass certain criteria. There are a lot of so called agents out there who do not have a writer’s best interests at heart, and I do everything I can to keep them off of the QueryTracker list. Which means I subscribe to the guilty until proven innocent school of thought when it comes to agents. If someone proposes an agent and I can’t find enough evidence online to relieve suspicion, then that “agent” is not going to be listed. Unfortunately, this means that sometimes legitimate agents are rejected, but I would rather err on the side of caution and not list a hundred legitimate agents then to list one scammer. I do this because I feel it is my obligation to protect QueryTracker users from these scammers.
For those of you who have submitted agents that were not listed, I apologize for any inconvenience. If you have any evidence in support of them, please email me so it can be resolved.
So, does that mean you can be absolutely sure that there are no scammer agents listed on QueryTracker? I wish that were true, but sadly no. I say no because you should never trust any single source when agents are concerned. Always get a second, third and fourth opinion. Double check with AgentQuery, Preditors & Editors, Writer’s Beware and other such sites. And not just for legitimacy either. Check contact info and submission requirements as well. What you are doing is too important to leave to chance. There is no such thing as a one-stop source for agent information.
I am starting a bookshelf of sorts. This bookshelf will contain the books of QueryTracker users who, with the help of QueryTracker, have found agents. So if anyone out there has a success story to share, please let me know.
QueryTracker version 2.0
I am also hard at work on a new version of QueryTracker. It will be faster and easier to use, while still retaining all the features and abilities you have come to know and appreciate. So, if you have ever wished QueryTracker would include another feature or found something that you thought would work better another way, here is your chance to speak up. All suggestions, ideas, bug reports, and criticisms are appreciated and will be considered.
Please use this link to make a suggestion http://querytracker.net/contact.php?q=2
Thank you, and until next time, keep writing.
Thursday, October 11, 2007
The site has been a huge success, and I hope it is helping authors to connect with agents. Judging from the feedback and emails I've gotten, I'd say yes.
The data and statistics continue to grow and provide more and more insight. Certainly, there are still a lot of agents who have little or no data collected for them. But the popular agents, the ones most actively seeking new clients, are well covered.
I am planning a new round of improvements next week after things slow down on my day job (stupid day job). These will include the results of our word count reports, and... Well, I'll surprise you.
Saturday, October 6, 2007
Friday, October 5, 2007
First, my name is Jason Robinson, and I am the co-founder of Querytracker.net. Although in all fairness, Patrick McDonald is the true founder of the site, I was there when we had the idea, so regardless of the fact that he does all the work, I still get the title. And I intend to keep it. Pat and I have been working and writing together for nearly twenty years, so this is hardly our first attempt at working as a team. In this arena, I let him do all the work and criticize him for it later. He returns the favor in our writing ventures. I just wish I could tell him "You need to cut out all the adverbs on your site," but apparently adverbs have nothing to do with programming.
The idea behind Querytracker is a simple one, and it came about through necessity. We were shopping our middle grade science fantasy novel "Farwalkers: The First Crossing" to agents, and I was getting frustrated with having to slog through Agentquery every few months just to gather a decent list of prospective agents. We discussed this for a while and the idea for Query Tracker was born. Since then it has become far more than just a resource for writers who want to find an agent. We have since added statistics to better target your queries, a forum to discuss ideas and methods with other writers, and we have even been accused of being a cult! If you do stop by the forum, make sure you drop into the Quillkeeper's Tavern and enjoy a nice glass of Kool-Aid.
Anyway, you will be seeing much more of me here, so I will keep this short for now. In the future I will be discussing the revolutionary features of Query Tracker, and writing and querying topics of all sorts, so check back often. Until then, keep writing!
Tuesday, October 2, 2007
It all began over lunch at a local Pizza Hut. I was discussing the query process with my friend and fellow writer Jason when the thought just hit us. It was one of those simultaneous ideas and so neither one of us can be certain who had the idea first, but what mattered is we both saw it as a great tool for writers.
I was in between writing projects and was actually working on creating a video game. But the game was taking way to long, and since I lack the artistic talents required for modern game graphics, I decided to set it aside and create QT. I can be a tad bit obsessive when I am working on something like this, and so I ended up spending lots of evenings and weekends (and sleepless nights) until it was finished. About a month later QueryTracker went online for the first time and it has been doing great ever since.
So, what's in store for the next six months? Besides continuing to grow and collect data, I have ideas for several new features and am taking requests from users for even more. If anyone would like to add to the list, just drop me a line.
Sunday, September 30, 2007
(And, since I'm new at this whole blogging thing, if anyone has any pointers, I'd appreciate that, too.)
Saturday, September 29, 2007
QueryTracker is not just another list of agents. In fact, our agent list is secondary to the real purpose and power of QueryTracker.
QueryTracker is a model for what I like to call "Social Data Gathering." Which means our users each contribute data about their query and agent experiences. Alone this data does not reveal much, but when combined with the data from our ever-growing membership, we can see trends and identify important aspects of an individual agent's actions.
How does it work?
When a user queries an agent, they record the following data about that query:
- Date Sent
- How Sent (Email, Regular Mail)
- To Whom was the Query Sent
- Genre of Manuscript
- Word Count of the Manuscript
- Date of Response
- Type of Response
What can you learn from this information and how does it help?
With this data, QueryTracker can reveal, on an agent-by-agent basis:
- The overall number of queries sent to each agent and their accept/reject history.
This can tell you how busy an agent is, but it also reveals how much an agent is actively seeking new authors. An agent that requests to read more manuscripts is obviously more interested in new authors than the ones that seem to reject everything they receive.
- The genre-specific accept/reject history for an agent.
This reveals the agents who are actively seeking certain genres. Just because an agent says they are interested in a particular genre, doesn't mean they are interested right now. With this you can find the agent who is requesting to read more manuscripts of the genre you write, allowing you to better target your queries. This feature requires premium membership.
- Agent response times.
By tracking sent and received dates (for queries and manuscript submissions) we can soften some of the pain of the waiting game.
- Seasonal data.
Are certain times of the year better for some agents and not for others? Now we can see and reveal any trends that may exist. This feature requires premium membership.
- Newly added, we are now collecting data about manuscript word count.
This will tell you which agents think certain books are too long, or too short, and help you to find agents who have already accepted manuscripts of the same size as yours.
- We continue to expand.
New ideas for data gathering and reports are always being recommend and implemented, and the site continues to grow both in features and users.
Saturday, May 12, 2007
Besides tracking the status of your query letter, Query Tracker also collects data about each query and provides statistics on a per agent basis. For these statistics to be as valuable as possible there must be a lot of data, which requires a lot of users, and free means more users.
Query Tracker is also free because there are countless scammers and crooks out there trying to rip off writers, and I did not want for a second to be confused with one of them. The best way to do that was to offer Query Tracker for free and put to rest permanently the question of money.
Thursday, May 10, 2007
Sure, there are websites that try to help. There are those which offer lists of literary agents, but finding the agent's name was just the beginning. Of course I had to write the query letter, but a major problem turned out to be how to keep track of all those query letters. Who did I already query? Which literary agents looked promising, and which were just not suited for my work.
I was faced with the same problems every time I sent out a new batch of query letters. Sure I kept a list of which agent I already queried, but, as that list grew, it became harder and harder to keep track. I found myself reading profiles for literary agents I had already determined were not suitable, or spending time on an agent just to realize that I had already queried her once before.
I thought how nice it would be if I could just check a box beside the agent's name and forever mark her as queried. I could even go back after receiving that all-too-common rejection and, by checking another box, record that, too.
While I’m at it, why not make the website insert the literary agent’s name and address right into my query letter for quicker and easier printing. After all, I’ve got real writing to do, I don’t need to waste my time typing in addresses. And don’t even get me started on self addressed envelopes.
And then the real power of this website hit me. With all this information, and with enough users on the site and contributing, we could take a lot of the guess work out of query writing. What if you could see samples of the last ten queries which a given literary agent had read and liked? What if every user posted his or her query letters, then linked them to the agent where they were sent and indicated what response, if any, the letter received? With this information it would be possible to see the types of queries the agent liked, and either modify your letter accordingly, or move on to a different agent who has shown interest in work like yours. Now, I felt I was on to something. I hadn’t been this excited since the first time I wrote, “The End.”So, I took this wishlist and I created QueryTracker.net, and now, although publication still eludes me, at least the query process has become much more organized and therefore faster and easier.