Once you’ve familiarized yourself with query etiquette, you can start compiling a list of who you’d like to send your story to. If you’ve been following the suggestions I made in the last post, you probably already have a good head-start on this, but if you haven’t been then now is the time to start putting one together.
- Go through Agent Query or similar networking lists and look for agents that represent your genre and audience.
- Check their recent sales and see if the writing style that they gravitate toward is comparable to yours.
- Set up a spreadsheet or similar way of tracking your queries. You’ll want, at the least, a column for the date you sent your e-mail (or letter, though most agencies seem to be leaning toward digital submissions these days), response, and the date you sent out your partial or full.
- Prioritize your list. You can always change this later as things shake out, but you will want to determine in what order you’re going to send your queries out. Make each grouping a mix of top-choice, runner-up, and safety agents. Send out the first batch of five to ten.
(Tip: Don’t send out queries to ALL of your top-choice favorites right off the bat. I have two reasons for this. First, if all of your dream agents send back rejections or–worse–don’t respond at all, it can be very disheartening. Don’t set yourself up for that. The second reason is that you will, no doubt, be adjusting and fine-tuning your query throughout the process. You want to make sure that it’s the absolute best it can be before you send it to your Pie-in-the-Sky dream agent. Don’t sabotage yourself by sending it out early!)
- Every time you get a response, no matter if it’s a rejection, a page request, or a please resubmit, send out the next query on your list. Keeping multiple queries in the air lets you stay active without being overwhelmed.