The Querying Process

The Querying Process
August 22, 2017 No Comments » For Authors, Writing Advice J.K. Allen

You’ve written your novel and now it’s time to query. The query is very important and something you’ll need to spend time on to perfect. We’ve talked about how to write our query and dos and don’ts, so let’s talk about the process of querying.

Do your research and personalize each query. Don’t send one query addressed to multiple agents. Don’t address it to Dear Editor, Dear Agent, Sir or Madam, or To Whom It May Concern. Learn the agent or editor’s name. Make sure they are accepting unsolicited submissions and are looking for the genre and age range you write in. We talked last week about how to research agents before querying.

Know and follow exactly their submission guidelines. Do they only want a query? Or do they want a query and the first ten pages? Never use an attachment unless the agent asks for one. Always paste your materials into the email unless they specify an attachment.

Send out your queries in batches, but don’t send to multiple agents at the same agency at the same time. Keep track of what you send to whom and when you can expect a response back. Do not follow up with them until their response time has passed, no matter how anxious you are.

If you aren’t getting requests for partial or full manuscripts, then it’s time to revise and rewrite your query letter. You need to work on your hook and the description for your book. Keep it brief and make it interesting. You need to be intriguing and make the agent want to read your book. Make sure what you’ve written is clean, concise, and error-free. Don’t start with a rhetorical question. Don’t start with a cliché. Agents are looking for any reason to say no, so don’t give them one.

Include credentials and relevant experience. Are you previously published? Do you have a degree in creative writing? Or is your degree or profession related to your book matter? List your credentials. If you don’t have any, skip this paragraph. Don’t over exaggerate.

Thank the agent for their time and consideration. Be courteous and sign off respectfully.

In the meantime, keep writing. Querying is a lot of waiting. Waiting for the response time to pass, waiting to get any reply at all, waiting until they read your manuscript. Sometimes you don’t hear back from them at all. So keep busy while you’re waiting. It’ll help save you from going crazy and keep your career on the right track. You’re not just in the game for one book, so write another.

If you’re sending out your manuscript and getting a lot of form rejections with no comment on why it’s a no, then it’s time to reevaluate your manuscript. If you’re getting feedback, that’s a positive sign, but take that feedback into account. Especially if multiple agents are saying the same things.

Don’t take rejection personally. Criticizing your writing is not the same as criticizing you. It’s hard to stay objective, but as a writer, you need to have a thick skin. Rejection is part of the process. You can’t let it break you down.

The querying process is a long one, but the path to getting traditionally published. Spend time crafting your query to hook an agent and making sure your manuscript is polished before you begin this process. What are your tips for querying? Share below and happy querying!


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J.K. Allen Julia Allen received her BA in Creative Writing and English from Michigan State University. She did her senior thesis in poetry under the tutelage of Diane Wakoski, but has been focused primarily on fiction as of late. Common writing themes that can be found in her work address identity and the type of strength that can be found in ordinary people. Julia is currently working on a Young Adult fantasy novel and can be found at local cafes in her hometown when writing, and painting, drawing, or reading when not.

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