Amid all the Power Down excitement, I’ve still been hard at work querying The Novel that Won’t Die. I’ve learned that the book querying process is both an art form and a science: you have to be capable of writing a succinct but engaging synopsis of your novel, then determine exactly which agents will want to read it. Mostly this involves a lot of grunt work. It’s not glamorous, and it’s borderline stalkerish.
1. I start on QueryTracker. If you’re not familiar, get there quick: QueryTracker is a very useful database of agents worldwide, and more up-to-date than print guides. Once you’ve identified potential agents on QueryTracker, you can see what other authors and potential authors have to say about them, such as how quickly or not-so-quickly they respond to queries, what they’re looking for in a novel, and what gifts to best bribe them with (kidding). You can also track your own queries on QueryTracker, as the name would suggest. This has taken the place of the folder of query copies I used to keep on my computer, with little checks and x’s by them. You can mark when you sent the query, so you know how long its been, and keep track of whether an agent has asked for a partial, full, or, sadly, rejected you.
2. Then I move to Twitter. Agents are human beings, and as such, most of them are on Twitter. Twitter is a great place to find how what books your favorite agents have recently released, what other agents and editors they are friendly with, and yes, what movie they saw last weekend. No, I don’t use this information to preface my query with, ‘Hey, I loved Silver Linings Playbook, too!’ but knowing I could makes me feel like we’re on common ground. And yep, if an agent has a blog, I’m reading that, too. (The most useful? Janet Reid’s Query Shark.)
3. I also surround myself with people who know more about querying than I do. Obviously, this step is easy for me. I have a great writer’s group where I can float my query drafts, and much of what I’ve written here, I learned from writer and friend Cristin Terrill, whose debut novel, All our Yesterdays, comes out next fall.
What are your querying tips? Where do you find the information you need to query effectively?