QueryTracker Blog

Helping Authors Find Literary Agents

Monday, January 19, 2009

I Need a Reply-- STAT!

Okay, my gang of QT's...

As promised, we'll be taking a close look at the features of the QueryTracker.net site that actually involve... um... tracking queries.

First, let's quickly run through HOW to track your queries on QueryTracker.net.

The first thing you need to do is choose an agent you plan to query and add them to your query list. I've added a few of the New & Updated Agents to the query list for our imaginary manuscript, Memoirs of a QT Blogger.

So after following Elana's tips to construct the perfect query, I would send it off to my agent of choice by their preferred query method (be sure to check which methods are accepted by the agent on the agent's Overview page, which Suz discussed last week.)

The next step after sending off your query letter is to track it. This will not only help you keep track of whom you've queried and when, but will also contribute to community data that can help you interpret patterns in agent responses.

So let's track that query. First, go to the "My Query Status" tab on the agent listing (you can also access this tab by clicking on the query status symbol next to the agent's name.)

This is where you will enter data to track your query. Notice the yellow checkmark symbol by the agent's name. This indicates that the agent has been added to your query list. When you start tracking your query, this symbol will change to reflect the current status.

So, I check the listing and see that this agent takes snail mail queries. I pop my letter in the mail and come to QueryTracker.net to log it:

Using the dropdown menus, I select the date and method I used to send the query.

Now my status symbol will change to reflect the pending query.

Be sure to hit the Save Query button after entering your information!

Then comes the hardest part... waiting for a reply. :)

Luckily, our imaginary response came very quickly! It's a partial request. Yay, hypothetical US!

Now to mark our good news in the QueryTracker.net database.
Your status symbol will now change again:

Once you get your submission off to the lucky agent, you'll update the submission side of the My Query Status tab in just the same way.

Tracking a partial or full request is fun, but you should track EVERY response you receive on queries sent. Why, you ask?

Because every time you record your query responses in QueryTracker.net you are also creating data points. And the data from all the 11,000+ strong QueryTracker.net members gives you access to powerful information in the Agent Reports & Statistics tab.

So let's take a look at the stats available for queries. The full basic query report shows how many QT users have recorded sending a query to this agent, what method they used to send it, and what the responses were by percentage overall, and by method of query.

In this entry, for example, you can see that this agent receives most of her queries by email, requests to see the manuscript about 22% of the time, and overwhelmingly requests a partial or a proposal, rather than a full manuscript from the query.

There are several other reports available that can give you even more information. You can break down the agent's request rate by genre or by manuscript length. You can also track the responses to those requested partials and fulls. But perhaps the most useful information is the Query Response Time report.

Once you've chosen "Query Response Times" from the dropdown menu and clicked "Generate Report," you will see a chart like this:

The chart shows that this agent has a very quick response time for emailed queries, averaging just 6 days for a postive response and 11 days for a negative one. The response times for snail mail queries are significantly longer. This information is helpful in judging whether you should resend a query to an agent you have not heard from.

If you'd queried this agent by email and 2 months or more had passed, chances are fairly good that internet goblins are involved. But for many other agents, 2 months or more may be standard. Having this data available can help you decide when you're considering re-querying.

There are also a lot of very cool reports that are only available to premium members. Tune in next week for the details on those.

And keep on Tracking!

H. L. Dyer, M.D. writes women's fiction and works as the Clinical and Academic Director for the Hospitalist Program at a pediatric teaching hospital near Chicago. In addition to all things literary, she enjoys experimental cooking and composing impromptu parodies to annoy close friends and family. Click to visit her personal blog, Trying to Do the Write Thing.


Patrick said...

Well done Heather.

Anonymous said...

So cool...I have used QueryTracker for a while, and still didn't know all of that...COOL. I am an info junky and this makes me actually look forward to querying...ok maybe that is overstating a bit :)

Elana Johnson said...

Holy cool post. Those pictures are awesome...now I feel nervous to do it next week! Ack!

Stina said...

I just started using the tracker yesterday. Great job! It's fun adding all my requested partials and fulls. Guess I'd better go now and add the rejections as well.

And ElanaJ. Congrats on your win during the Miss Snark First Victim contest. Yours was one of my favorites.

Angela Ackerman said...

Some of this was new to me, even tho I've been using this for a while--thanks! :-)

Carolyn Kaufman | @CMKaufman said...

Awesome job, Heather! Nicely explained and very thorough!

And Elana, we'll help with screenshots (and red circles ;-) as needed.

Elana Johnson said...

Thanks Archy! I might be in panic mode on Sunday night.

And Stina! Thanks for the congrats. I don't think I breathed for a full minute. I reloaded the page just to make sure my bleary eyes hadn't read the name wrong! Thanks!