Monday, March 14, 2011

In Which I Need Querying Opinions

So, I'm getting closer and closer to the querying stage (Excitement! Also, unexpectedly, fear...) and have a few questions for those of you who are query "experts". Or at least have jumped into that trench ahead of me.

How do you know which agents to query first? I mean, I have a significant agent list (still growing) on query tracker, all numbered from 1-10 in relation to their awesomeness. Obvs the Number ones (of which there are like maybe two) are my favs and so on.

Do I query them first? But what if it turns out my query isn't cutting it (I don't actually think this will happen. I quite like my query and have gotten some good feedback on it. But still...). If my query stinks and I send it to my ones, twos and threes first, well then I may waste my opportunity with them.

Funny Pictures - Philosophy Sloth

I guess probably a good way to go about it is to make a small group with a mix of some "middle of the road" agents. Like maybe a few fours fives and sixes. Use them to test the query. If Istart getting some bites, then I can begin to send it to my lower numbered agents.

I think this is what I'll probably end up doing, but I'd really like to hear from those of you who have queried before or are querying now. Who did you pick to query first and why? Inquiring minds (mine) want to know!


Hannah Kincade said...

We've already had this discussion and you know I'm no help. I'm the what if girl. I say go with your gut instinct. Final answer.

Mary Vaughn said...

Interesting thought process her. Please keep us updated.
In the meantime, I'm with Hannah on this -- gut instinct.

Stina Lindenblatt said...

That's how I do it. And be sure to throw in some new agents (from awesome agencies) into the mix. They tend to request more in the beginning than the big players, plus they respond faster.

Jaydee Morgan said...

I'm not there yet but these kinds of questions always enter my mind. I guess what you have to think of is this: what if one of your middle of the road agents makes you an offer? Then what?

In the end, I think our "dream" agent is the one who LOVES our book and wants it to succeed.

Mara Nash said...

You've got the right idea. Don't put all your eggs in one basket to start. Just send out a few at first, maybe one to someone near the top of your list, and the rest to middle-of-the-list agents. That way you test the waters. I just sent out a handful of queries myself, so I totally understand how you're feeling...nervous, terrified, excited.

*fingers crossed* for both of us!!

Anne Gallagher said...

Okay, here's how I do it. I find 30 agents (rough estimate because I query in batches of ten.)

Group A agents are the ones I want to have dinner with. Super fab, awesome in sauce, I'd literally give up my dogs to have them as my agent.

Group B are those who I want to have lunch with. Maybe the newer agents who I want, but not like Group A.

I would send out the first batch of ten to 5 and 5. Reserving my all time absolute must have agent. If I get any hits for partials and fulls (at least 4) from any of these ten, then I would send out to my all time fave agent. (Yes, you can play it like this.)

If an offer of representation comes in from anyone, you get to write to the others and tell them, thus pressuring super fab agent to make a decision.

And I know with what you've written, agents will be fighting over you. Any more questions, you know where to find me.

Sarah Ahiers (Falen) said...

Hannah - yeah i probably will. Unless someone has some advice that i hadn't considered before

Mary - thanks! and updates will definitely happen

Stina - yeah, i'm OK with newer agents. My list covers the gamut

jaydee - yeah that's what i think too, but it would still kind of be a bummer to not get a chance to query someone you were excited about

Mara - ooh! Good luck!

Anne - i knew you'd have a good detailed process you'd be willing to share. Thanks!

Elena Solodow said...

I made a list of about 80 agents to start, ranked from 1-5 based on level of "connectedness". I started with the 1s, which were my agents that could go either way. The problem with this approach is that you don't know if your query is being rejected, or if it's just not a good fit for that agent (which you already kinda knew), but overall, the process worked well. By the time I hit my 3 agents, I was getting requests. Most importantly, if you're unsure about your query, let it sit for a while and try to get as many eyes on it as possible. You're not going to have a query that pleases all agents, but you can get pretty darn close.

Lola Sharp said...

Whatever way you go, I am SUPER excited for you and wish you luck finding the VERY best agent FOR YOU.


PS did you ever get that agent critique back?

Erica Mitchell-Spickard said...

Not having been in this stage, I have no sound advice. However, I'm sooooo excited your about to enter that world and I wish you the best of luck! Exciting stuff ahead!

Matthew MacNish said...

I would definitely save your top two or three agents until you know whether the query is working. You're always going to get some rejection, but if you're getting some requests as well, at least you'll know the query works.

Teebore said...

I gots nothing for you, but am enjoying reading the feedback to your question.

I will say, though, in general, if the worst thing that happens to you is that a level 5 agent wants you and you can leverage that desire into a deal with a level 1 agent, you're in good shape. And that I don't think there's anything wrong with negotiating that way.

Maria Zannini said...

I would query the A list agents first.

A list does not mean the mega star agents. A list are the agents that fit your genre, who have other authors you admire, and who seem personable on their blogs and interviews.

If your query is as good as you think it is, start at the top. And then keep sending. Then if you get an offer from a B list agent, you can go back to the A listers who hadn't gotten back to you yet and tell them you've had an offer and would like to know if they want in on the action.

Sarah Ahiers (Falen) said...

Elena - ooh, that's an interesting process. Thanks!

Lola - Thanks! I'm super excited too! I've wanted to query something for years!

Erica - thanks! I'm more scared then i thought i'd be. I think it's cuz i love my story so much

Matt - yeah that seems like sound advice to me and probably what i'll end up doing

Maria - yeah i'll definitely not hold off too long on sending to my a listers. I'm not patient enough for that

Sarah Ahiers (Falen) said...

Teebore - yeah, that seems like a problem you want to have - someone offering you representation

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

I recommend making a list of publishers as well. There's more of them and the odds are much better of landing one.

Holly Ruggiero said...

I don’t know but I love reading your post and all the comments.

Trisha said...

These are questions I will definitely have to ask when the time comes! I'm not there yet but I will be someday :D

Sarah Ahiers (Falen) said...

Alex - i'm a traditional girl at heart, so i'll probably only look at publishers if i've exhausted my agent search. I'm not great at contracts and junk and could really use someone to help me make sure i'm not getting screwed

Holly - yeah they've been really helpful!

Trisha - it may sneak up on you faster than expected!

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