QueryTracker Blog

Helping Authors Find Literary Agents

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Research Before Hitting "Send"

A common complaint from agents on their blogs, Twitter and Facebook is the receipt of submissions that aren't in keeping with their agency guidelines. It surprises me in this age of internet that so many writers get it wrong.

Perhaps part of the problem is the internet itself. There is often more misinformation than there is fact. The trick is sifting through inaccurate or obsolete information and finding the correct answer.
There are numerous sites designed to help authors make sense of the publishing maze. Is one of them the definitive source with the all right answers?

No. (Does my answer surprise you? I am representing QueryTracker after all!)

QueryTracker is pretty darned close to being the definitive source, but it doesn't eliminate research. Not even close. It does make it easier though.

QueryTracker lessens the probability a writer will query a "scammer"' or unqualified agent. An agency's sales and reputation are researched before that agency is added to the QT database. There have even been cases where agents were removed from QT after being red flagged by Predators and Editors.

When I was searching for an agent, one of the things I liked about QT was my ability to track the format in which I had sent queries and to whom. Another helpful feature is the links to other resources from an agent's profile that make it easy to research him/her in "Quick Click Tools."

The agent's website, blog and other sites are linked as well. Research links are all in one place.

Writers using QueryTracker effectively should not be among the ones agents complain about because of poor research. Really.

Now, here's the catch: Even though acceptable query methods are listed on QueryTracker, you can't rely on that anymore than you can rely on information on other agent listings or databases. What if the agent listed above adopted an online form last week and didn't inform QueryTracker?

You MUST read and follow the submission guidelines on the AGENCY WEBSITE. Other sources may not be up to date.

Agents provide information initially listed on QueryTracker, but they do not update it as often as they update their own websites. There are agents who will occasionally close their inboxes to submissions for a brief period of time. They also stop taking certain genres. Sometimes, they don't inform all the databases on which they are listed. So, again...

You MUST read and follow the submission guidelines on the AGENCY WEBSITE. Other sources may not be up to date.

Research agents thoroughly before you hit "send." There is no excuse to submit your adult project to an agent who only accepts children's projects. Don't waste your time or the agent's time. Check their website to be sure nothing has changed.

You want your project to receive the serious consideration it deserves. Not researching properly before you query turns your hard work into
Have a wonderful, well-researched, spamless week!



Kristi said...

I love the pic of Spam! Researching agents is my favorite form of procrastination and QT is one of the best sites for this. I agree that it's so important to check the agency website as well -- for instance, many were closed to queries over the holidays. Happy querying :)

Stina Lindenblatt said...

Smart advice. One agent commented on her blog that she would be closed for the Christmas holidays. All queries received during that time would be deleted unread. People still sent her queries, and some commented that they follow her blog. Huh? (I guess she must have read them afterall even though they went unanswered.) Now these writers are waiting for a reply that will never come.

Michelle said...

This is a great post! Writers need to realize that half the battle of getting published is doing research before submitting.

Why submit to someone who doesn't rep or publish your genre? It's a waste of everyone's time.

All writers should read this post!


Cammie said...

Thanks a lot for this post. This message can't be hammered into our writerly heads enough!

DL Hammons said...

QueryTracker is a GREAT resource! It makes the process of researching so much easier.

Excellent post.

worldofhiglet said...

Very good advice. I'm a big fan of querytracker and it really does speed things up but I always check the agent websites before I query.

One thing that occurred to me today after seeing the new feature for premium users - will emails from Querytracker direct be given different treatment that emails sent from your own email account? And might some agents decide to block all emails from Querytracker if they decide they are getting too many?

The reason I ask is that the very feature that makes it so useful to writers (it remembers you query) could be the very thing that annoys some agents.

I'm just raising the question, this isn't a criticism - I love the new functionality!

Mary Lindsey said...

Good question, worldohiglet. My understanding, and I'll verify this, is that the email appears to come from your email address. QT is not involved. It is simply to help writers save time. Responses from agents will come directly to you.

I'll get the head guru to address it. Oh, Patrick!!! Answer please!

Patrick said...

Hi worldofhiglet
That's a good question, and I meant to address it when I announced the new feature, but forgot. Sorry.

The emails sent out using this new feature comes from you. The from and reply-to address is yours.

Now, it is possible for the recipient to dig into the headers of the email and determine some details about where the email came from, but most people don't know how or care to do this.

Believe me, I've weighed the chances of this feature being abused. People could use it to spam queries, but what's stopping them from spamming queries now, just using Outlook?

But, rest assured, I'm watching closely and I will intercede if I find anyone abusing the system. I won't let someone who doesn't know any better ruin it for everyone else.

Thanks for bringing this up.

Elana Johnson said...

Excellent reminder, Mary. :)

Patrick said...

To keep people from using this system to spam agents with queries, which would only hurt QT and its members, I have added a limit to the number of queries which can be sent in a day. Each member can only send 5 queries per day. This should be plenty, since you don't want to send out large batches all at once anyway.

ali said...

QT is the most awesome site ever. I've tried querying before and it was way stressful ~ not anymore with QT!

Thanks Mary!

worldofhiglet said...

Thanks for clarifying what happens with the email submissions. I went to use it today and saw that it defaulted to my email address. And I think you are right about the headers etc.

Now I have another couple of questions about it (sorry!).

Will a copy of the email you send be copied into your email sent box?

Can you change the email address you are sending it from and if so, does the above question also apply?

It's a great feature that I'll be blogging about!

Patrick said...

Uh-Oh, don't go blogging about it yet worldof. I'm afraid I have to suspend it for a bit while I work some things out.

worldofhiglet said...

No problem, Patrick. I'll hold off and just link to Mary's article for now since it is such a good reminder.

Mary Lindsey said...

Thanks for linking, worldofhiglet. I look forward to reading your post. :)

Munk said...

Keep up the great work Mary... and Ali, no stress querying? Good on ya. I'm not sure that will ever be the case for me.