I’ve been working on my query for my latest book. Now I knew some of this coming in, but it’s a crap-load of work to query. First of all you have to write a very solid query (or at least one you feel comfortable with.) I’ve got one that I feel decent about.
So now the next step. Do you know what the next step is? It’s making a list of agents to send queries to. Do you know how you find those agents? Yeah, um, there are long, long lists available, and you can scan through THE ENTIRE LIST, searching for agents who accept queries from middle grade fiction. That’s a bad way to go, though. There are a couple of sites that list agents, and you can even do a search and weed out the ones that accept mg. Excellent, we’re on the right track.
What next? Oh yeah, now we have to go to each agents listed site and see where to send our queries. What’s that? Oh, some of the sites no longer exist? Some of the sites that do still exist do not list that agent anymore, meaning they probably no longer work there? And you mean sometimes, even if the agent is still working there, they aren’t open to queries right now?
Ok, so let’s just move on to the ones who are accepting queries. What’s the next step now? Oh, you mean I have to go to each agent’s site and find out how they want you to submit? Ok, no problem. Oh, so… so each agent has a different way to submit. Some want you to put the query and the first 10 pages in the body of the email. Some want the first 10 pages attached as a word doc file. Some want it attached as a pdf. Some want you to use their submission form on their site. Some also want you to send 3 chapters, or 5 chapters, or no chapters. Some want the email subject to have your name and the name of your book, some want the name of the agent only, some don’t say at all.
So you’ve made it this far, and now you submitted to several agents. Great, good, you’re all set. Replies will start rolling in anytime now. Um… no. So some agents respond asap, some in 2 weeks, some in 30 days, some in 6 months. Some say if you haven’t heard in 3 months to email again to make sure the email hasn’t been lost. Some say you won’t be contacted at all if they decline.
So yeah, that’s good.
The last step in the process, as far as I can tell, is to give up and publish it yourself, then 9 months later get a rejection from someone you barely remember sending it to in the first place.
Yet still we try it.
The thing is, I know agents have a hard time too. Agents get more queries than they can possibly deal with, and (I’m guessing) the majority are pure trash. Maybe mine is some of that, I don’t know. But I know it has to be tough. I am not in any way disparaging agents.
What I am saying is that there must be a way to sort of homogenize things. If all agents, or most, could just agree on a standard query process, even if it included much more than any particular agent wants, it would help a lot. Each agent would get what they want, and could ignore the extra. Authors could have a basic set of query items ready to go.
I’ve heard some people say that doing all this extra work is part of the process, that authors who stick it out to do this much show that they are very serious, and so it weeds out the ones who are just sending things on a whim. Yeah, well, if that’s the case, it stinks. Just saying.
However, in the long run I do think it will be worth all the work, if I can get my book published and have more backing for it. Self publishing is nice, and it’s relatively easy, but it doesn’t get you that much attention. A little extra help from a publisher might help.
Have a good weekend!