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Queries and Agents => Literary Agents => Topic started by: Johnny 5 on April 07, 2021, 01:57:46 AM

Title: My Query Journey Thus Far
Post by: Johnny 5 on April 07, 2021, 01:57:46 AM
I should have kept a record of dates, but here is my journey so far:

Nov 2020: Book finished. Query finished. Synopsis' finished. PM list of all agents built, top agents targeted (as in CHOSEN TO QUERY). Ten queries sent out.

Dec 2020: Five rejections. Fifteen more queries sent out. Start second book in series.

Jan 2021: Five rejections. Silence. Feeling jaded. Hire an editor for query letter. Get feedback on book as a whole, and on letter. Told that as my work is portal fantasy, it's a common first time writer genre, and a hard sell. 15 page prologue not helping. I start the rewrite of my book to try spice it up. Overall, money well spent on editor.

Feb 2021: Five rejections. I close off all queries sent that did not respond. I rewrite book and start getting obsessed with querying, agenting, publishing. Agent research on Twitter makes me depressed. Give up second book in series despite being 150 pages in.

Mar 2021: Finish rewrite of first book. Feel it reads way better. Send out twenty queries. Feeling more confident. Ten rejections. Start new book.

Apr 2021: Five rejections. Send out ten queries. Silence. Think my WIP sucks as well and maybe I'm wasting my time. On page 150 of first draft.

I round off figures above in fives, but as of today, the 7th April 2021, I have sent out 47 queries and have had 0% success beyond the query letter stage. Personal rejections are hard to spot, but one agent said my book (the first version) was too long (84k for MG Fantasy). That was the closest to a personal rejection that I could spot. I suspect all else was form of some sort.
Title: Re: My Query Journey Thus Far
Post by: FlyingViking on April 07, 2021, 02:45:15 AM
I really sympathize with you ... on my first go-around I don't think I got my first request for a partial until I was 30+ queries into the process and thoroughly dejected by the apparent futility of it all.  Granted, I made the mistake of querying agents in order of preference, meaning my first five queries went out to the agents representing Michael Connelly, John Grisham and the likes, and even though they may be "open for queries" they are very, very selective indeed... 

Don't give up.  But at some point you must consider if you need to start over with the query letter and/or your first 5 pages (for example, I was told that a prologue is a big no-no for a first novel). Just posting my current query letter here has made me realize that the reader sometimes gets a completely different impression of the story than the one you are trying to convey in 250 words or less.

And hard as it may seem, keep on working on your WIP(s).  Improve your craft, gain new insights and perspectives.  If worse comes to worst and you have to shelf the manuscript for a few years, you'd be amazed how you will look at it after having accumulated a few more years of writing experiences and perspectives.

Getting published is a marathon.  We're barely out of the stadium.  Grab your Gatorade and enjoy the run!
Title: Re: My Query Journey Thus Far
Post by: Johnny 5 on April 07, 2021, 12:49:08 PM
Thanks for the encouragement and wise words FlyingViking :)

Spot on with the query analysis on QT. I shared my own with one member and they found several issues that even the pro editor I worked with missed!

I'll never underestimate the value of a critique partner again.
Title: Re: My Query Journey Thus Far
Post by: AVA_writing on April 10, 2021, 10:06:03 PM
If it helps. Here is my journey so far...

Jan-Feb 2021: Finalize manuscript, query letter and synopsis

Late Feb 2021: Begin query process with first batch of 14 agents. Half were through Query Tracker, other half were email submissions.

Mid March 2021: Only 3 rejections to first batch. Revise strategy to only focus on Query Tracker agents with history of replying consistently, make slight changes to opening chapter.

Mid March 2021: Test revised opening chapter with 5 query tracker agents.

As of today - first week of April, I have sent out 19 queries, received rejections from 10 of them. All rejections have been through query tracker agents. I have not received any responses through the email ones.

I consider the first 19 batch number one. I will drastically revise the first chapter and continue with the next batch.

All rejections have been form letters, the closest I got to maybe a personalized one was a comment on how "commercially viable the concept was." To be clear, I am not offended by that  ;D.

Title: Re: My Query Journey Thus Far
Post by: richardclin on April 11, 2021, 01:21:14 AM
One thing I have noticed, Jonny and AVA, is that it seems that agents that utilize QueryManager get back somewhat more quickly and in greater numbers than those that accept email queries. But they also seem to have a slightly higher rejection rate. Of course, I am working off of a small sample size, but I wonder if others have noticed the same.
Title: Re: My Query Journey Thus Far
Post by: Johnny 5 on April 11, 2021, 05:31:11 AM
Thanks for sharing AVA_writing! And best of luck with the next round. Commercially viable is ALWAYS a good thing :)

Very true Richard, QT seems the best way for agents to manage queries, even if they select forms from drop down menus. The burden of responding to a mail, ctrl+c form rejection, ctrl+v form rejection, edit name of author, etc. probably feeds the no response beast. Imagine the old days of typewriters!

I PM'd an author who is with one of my dream agents and asked her opinion of why the agent is not responding to my QT query. The author was kind enough to reply and let me know that the agent has been under so much stress with work and clients lately that she admitted to the author that her query pile was falling way behind (not a good thing, as she will likely plough through it to get it down again).
Title: Re: My Query Journey Thus Far
Post by: Odd John on April 11, 2021, 06:01:23 AM
I am wondering if the publishing industry looks as redoubtable to agents as it does to aspiring authors. They're in the middle muddle and get hammered from both ends!  :eek: :rant: :badday:
Title: Re: My Query Journey Thus Far
Post by: Johnny 5 on April 11, 2021, 07:09:33 AM
I reckon so Odd John. Existing clients, query letters, contracts, proposals, partials, fulls, leisure, some have their own writing aspirations. So much reading and juggling.

They literally never stop reading!

Title: Re: My Query Journey Thus Far
Post by: Odd John on April 11, 2021, 07:31:20 AM
"They literally never stop reading."

Heaven or Hell?
Title: Re: My Query Journey Thus Far
Post by: richardclin on April 11, 2021, 11:23:19 AM

I think it likely starts off as heaven and then turns to hell at some point...or from time-to-time. :mad:

"They literally never stop reading."

Heaven or Hell?