Jumping into the Query Trenches

It’s time! I have finalized Doubting River, and it’s time to jump into the query trenches and begin querying agents.

Why traditional publishing?

I’m a huge proponent of “self publishing well.” However self publishing well takes a fair amount of money, excellent craft, and a LOT of business knowledge. I also believe, for several reasons, that traditional publishing is the best path for me and this book at this time:

  1. Doubting River is standalone book club fiction. It will do best if it has access to opportunities such as book stores, big box stores, book boxes, book clubs, and libraries.
  2. I want the external validation that my writing is READY for publishing. 
  3. Traditional publishing can give me a wide fan base that I can leverage for self published books in the future, if I decide to go that way.
  4. Traditional publishing will introduce me to the business side of publishing, and do so with a much easier learning curve than I would face if I self published first.
  5. If I self publish first, I will have blown my debut status.

I discussed these reasons and the pros and cons of self publishing and traditional publishing in a previous post.

What happens now?

I used Query Tracker to curate a list of agents who rep book club fiction, and I’ve organized my list into batches (first round, second round, etc.). It’s important to query in small batches until I’m certain my query package — query letter, synopsis, and pages — are getting requests. I also created a spreadsheet to track information about who I’ve queried, response times, results, agency policies, and so on.

I’m sending out my first queries today–September 20, 2020. 

And then what happens?

The hope, of course, is that agents will read what I’ve sent them and request the full manuscript. It can take five minutes or three months to hear back on a query. I’ve heard that agents are responding more slowing during COVID because there’s so much else happening.

Responses to requested fulls can take…forever. Months. Many months. I’ve heard stories of writers getting offers well over a year after they sent their requested full.

So, really, my job is to query and wait. Traditional publishing is a lot of waiting.

Will I get an agent?

There’s no way to know. If I get requests, I know I’m doing SOMETHING right. Does that mean I’ll get an agent? No. Most queriers don’t get an agent, especially with the first book they’ve queried. I read somewhere that the average number of manuscripts queried before getting an agent is four.

This is my first. I’m hopeful, but I’m also realistic.

Will you give updates?

I’ll let you know if I get an agent. Hell, I’ll probably rent a skywriter if I get an agent. But, no, I’m not going to update you on rejections and full requests. That’s bad form. 😉

Wish me luck!

Querying agents

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