QueryTracker Blog

Helping Authors Find Literary Agents

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

The Latest QT Newsletter

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.

Success Stories
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

A New Milestone

The QueryTracker membership just broke 2,000! And I wanted to thank the writers out there for making this possible.

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.

Keep writing.


Rejection is one of the most difficult parts of this business, but it is something that you will have to learn to deal with if you are going to try to become a writer. Even the best queries are going to be rejected, sometimes by hundreds of people, before the right person reads it. Even then rejection looms. A majority of manuscripts requested from authors end up being rejected as well. Sounds depressing, doesn't it? Well, that's because it is. I won't bore you with the numbers regarding how many writers are trying to get published and how many books got published this year, but I will say this. You are going to get rejected. A lot.

If you are still reading, that means that you are willing to accept the sobering facts laid out above and are still ready to go on. Congratulations! You are either an optimist or just plain stubborn, but either way you have a better chance at gaining representation than the people who are turned away by the thought of such adversity. The reason for this is that even if you have a good product, it takes a lot of work to even get anyone to look at it, and that takes a person who will continue knocking on doors until someone finally opens one. Look at J.K. Rowling. She queried many agents before one finally believed in her "little wizard" book, and now she's richer that the Queen. Literally. Now, don't get me wrong. I am not saying that if you keep plugging along that one day you will be richer than the Queen of England. I am saying, however, that if you have worked hard and created something that you believe in, then you should not let a "no" from one agent or a thousand agents deter you. Just look at the statistics on Query Tracker and you will see that people are querying a lot, and though I one day hope to see it filled, that column that says "Request for Representation" on the agent's stats is empty most of the time. It is up to us to try and change that.

Pat and I are looking forward to the day when we can create another page on Query Tracker, and that is the page where we display the authors who got book deals while querying through the site. We have several that are close and for whom we are pulling wholeheartedly, and though we don't know all of our 2,000-plus members personally, we are pulling for them too. Because a victory for them is a victory for all of us. It is encouragement and hope that maybe we will be the next ones to post our books on the Query Tracker bookshelf. Here at Query Tracker we offer tools and support to help you through this frustrating and difficult time in your life as a writer. I mean, if you're gonna go on a journey like this, you might as well have the best navigation you can get, right? So keep those queries rolling, and remember, the next rejection may just be your last.

Saturday, October 6, 2007

Social Data Gathering

Social Data Gathering is one of the coolest things about Query Tracker, so for those of you who don't know about it or don't really get it, let me explain.

Here at Querytracker.net we have a community of users all trying to accomplish the same thing: become an author published through a reputable publishing house. Up until the point that Query Tracker came along we were all in pretty much the same boat with the same limited tools. We had a list of agents that contained their names and addresses and the kind of books they repped. Not bad, but not great either. You could go through and pick out some agents, mail some queries, and then wait for your rejection letters. Once all the rejections came in and you decided to search for a new batch of agents, you had to wade through the same list all over again, looking at the same agents that you had already queried. This is really what brought Query Tracker into being. Now on your Query Tracker manuscripts page, you can filter out the agents that you have already queried, and when you search for new agents you see right away the ones that already rejected you. As convenient and helpful as this is, it is really only the tip of the iceberg.

"Social Data Gathering" is a term coined by Patrick McDonald that describes what we do at Query Tracker. We take a group of people with a common goal and we use their combined power to benefit everyone. It's like a good form of Communism! Everyone contributes and everyone benefits, but no one has to call anyone comrade or carry a little red book. The Internet has the power to bring people from all over the country and the world together, and Social Data Gathering uses that power to allow them to share their resources! Here's how it works.

How often have you sent out a query and waited and waited. And waited. And waited some more. Or even worse, a manuscript? Well, with Social Data Gathering, we have taken information from each person who has experienced this before you and generated a report that shows you how long this agent usually takes to respond to a query or a manuscript, so you will have an idea about when the best time to follow up is. The way this works is, each time a user on Query Tracker marks a query as sent, the database records that and then waits until it sees the user mark it as returned with either a rejection or a request for more material. That information tells us how long, on average, it takes for the agent to respond to an author. It also tells us how often he or she accepts or rejects queries and manuscripts, and it shows us which genre the agent prefers. Many new writers worry about the word count of their novel being too large because it is often said that agents will not take a risk on new authors with high word count first novels, so we added a place for writers to enter their word counts so that we can see if there is any truth to this statement. There is also much speculation on whether or not agents are seasonal, meaning that they don't respond as rapidly, or at all, during the summer months. Query Tracker is also using user data to watch this trend in order to validate or dispel this theory.

But one of the more underused and possibly most valuable features of the Social Data Gathering suite on Query Tracker is the ability to post a query on an agent's page. This allows each user that is considering submitting to that agent to see what sort of query they are more likely to respond to, thereby giving authors the ability to tailor their queries to suit the agents' tastes. If you are considering posting a query on an agent's page, be sure to remove all personal information, such as name and address. I also realize that many authors are worried that someone might see their idea and try to steal it, but the reality is that the chances of that are slim to none. You can also remove any details about your plot, title, etc. What people need to see is whether an agent responded to a by-the-book query or a quirky, offbeat type of query.

Authors also have the ability to post comments on an agent's page regarding submission preferences, and any other information that they think might be pertinent and useful in deciding whether or not to query the agent.

One of the biggest problems for authors trying to acquire an agent to rep their book has always been that it seems to be such a crapshoot. You either get lucky, or don't. With Query Tracker's Social Data Gathering, we are trying to change the way authors target agents. The more information we have to narrow the search, the less it feels like scattering seed and more like putting that arrow in the bullseye.

Friday, October 5, 2007

Another introduction.

Well, as strange as it seems introducing myself in this particular arena, I suppose I will do just that. You will be seeing my ramblings here, so I suppose it's only fair that you know who I am and why I get to place my little musings onto this particular blog.

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


This week is the six month anniversary of QueryTracker. Yes, six months ago QueryTracker didn't exist. In fact, it wasn't even an idea.

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.