If you’re starting to query, an easy way to make the whole process easier is by starting out with an organized tool kit. Here, you can keep an eye on how your progress is going, what you have completed and what you have yet to complete, etc.
Though you should definitely alter this tool so it fits your personal needs, at least I can give you a starting point if you need one.
You can create a query tracker on an excel sheet or a Google spreadsheet.
Not only does a spreadsheet automatically have an organized layout for you, but it also allows you to personalize it with color coding, if that’s your thing.
Keep in mind: this can be made on any kind medium. If you’re the type who prefers pen and paper, then by all means, use that! Again, this is simply the stepping stones to help you find the best way to track your query process.
On your query tracker, you should have the following:
- Name of Agent: This is a list of agents that you’ve researched that you think will be a match for your manuscript.
- Website: This is a list of websites associated with the agents. Here, you can include the website where the agent’s information is listed, their submission site, and/or their social media pages.
- Requirements: Each agent has specific requirements for submission. You can list those specific requirements here, so when you’re read to submit the manuscript, you are certain that you’ve met all their requirements.
On your query tracker, you can include the following if you so choose:
- Query Letter Written: This is a simple yes/no list for whether or not you have written the query letter for that specific agent. It’s usually recommended to tailor each query letter to each agent, so this is a simple way to track and make sure you’ve done that.
- Date Sent: Once you’re ready to click on that “submit” or “send” button, you can record that date on your tracker. A big part of the process is waiting for a response, so knowing when you sent those query letters and having all those dates in one place will help. This can help you see how long it’s taken for an agent to respond. Some literary agencies state that after a certain number of weeks, you should assume the answer is no, so this can help you cross off those agents as well.
- Response Date: Similar to what’s above, you can record the date of a response from an agent. At the very least, this can give you a better idea of how agents and querying works for future reference.
Before even working through your query letters, you should definitely have a checklist of things you may need for when you’re ready to query. Here’s a list of a checklist that can work for you:
- A finished manuscript
- A completed synopsis
- A document of your first 10 pages
- A document of your first 25 pages
- A document of your first 50 pages
- A landing page (aka your author platform, aka your website/social media)
- Query letter(s)
- Author bio
Questions to Ask
It’s very easy to tell yourself (as I’ve been doing) that you’ll never get an offer, and this isn’t a terrible thing. For some people, it’s helpful to mentally prepare and accept the worst for a soft impact when it happens.
More often than not, we, writers, will face more rejections than offers, so it’s okay to mentally prepare for that.
However, that doesn’t mean we should think we will never get one. In fact, we should still, as best we can, manifest into the universe that we will get an offer from an agent.
One way of practicing that is to come up with a list of questions to ask for when that offer does come up.
Though these questions should be inquiries you’ve come up with yourself because you’re genuinely curious about the answers, here are just a few to consider asking:
- What would your submission strategy for this work be if you took it on?
- Are you open to me writing in different genres?
- Can I talk to a current client?
- Will I be able to have any input in the cover design or other creative decisions?
- Will I have a chance to review the original contract from the publisher as well as a document with all requested changes, along with the final contract?
I hope you find this helpful as you embark on your journey. If you have any tips, tools, or tricks to add to this query quest tool kit, please feel free to share them in the comments below!