You’ve finished your manuscript and your critique group/partner and beta readers have helped you strengthen the writing and the story. Now you’re ready for the next step: querying.
This month on the Querytracker Blog, each contributor will be sharing tips for querying. Today, I want to discuss your query goals. Yes, I know your goal is to land your dream agent. Am I right? I thought so. Unfortunately, it’s not a goal because you can’t control whether or not you’ll achieve it. A goal is something you have control over.
Let’s assume you’ve written a top notch query that will grab an agent’s attention as early as with the first line. The next thing you’ll need to do is create a list of agents who will most likely be interested in your book. If you’ve written a romance, you don’t want to query agents who HATE all things romantic. That’s just wasting your time and theirs.
Do you have your list of potential agents? Good. Now you need to figure out how many agents you will send your first batch of queries to. You don’t want to send it to everyone on the list at the same time (and I’m not referring to a mass mail out, which you should NEVER do). Maybe you want to send it to five agents at a time. Once they’ve all responded to the query (or after a given period of time to accommodate the non responders), you send out the next batch. You keep doing this until you’ve reach your next goal…
In total, how many agents are you planning to query before you move on? Some writers decide to query fifty agents before they wonder if something is wrong with the book and decide it’s time to move on. Some decide one hundred agents is the magic number. And some writers keep querying agents until their next book is ready to query. If you set a goal, it will push you to keep querying once the novelty wears off (and once you get busy with other things). It also helps to have a goal in mind for when you want to rethink your query and sample pages (usually the first five pages to first three chapters, depending on what the agent requests on the agent’s website). If you’re getting requests on your query and sample pages, then you’re golden. If you’re getting nothing but rejections on the query and sample pages, you need to re-examine those and make them stronger. But before you do that, you need to figure out at what point in the querying process you’ll consider reworking them. It could simply be that it’s not the right premise or voice for that particular agent and there’s nothing wrong with your query. And while you’re at it, determine how many rejections on partial and full requests you’ll sit through before you re-examine your story premise and writing. It could be that it needs some major rewriting, or it could be that you haven’t found the right agent for the book, yet.
By figuring out your goals ahead of time, it will help motive you to keep trying and help you know when it’s time to shelf the project. It will help remove one level of frustration from the process.
Do you have querying goals?