3 Things to Do While Querying

28 Dec

How many of you guys out there are querying or planning to query soon? It’s an interesting process to say the least—full of ups and down and random jerks sideways (just to keep you on your toes, you know).

There’s checking your email fifty times a day, squealing every time an agent responds and going into a) an Omg-I’m-SO-excited dance or b) a Whaat?-but-but-but… pout fest depending on the contents of the email. There’s the memorization of the mailman’s delivery times, if you’re one of those who send queries by snail mail. And there’s lots and lots of query-stress venting to writer friends who smile and try to be encouraging and tell you to CALM DOWN, you just sent that full three days ago, of course Agent Awesomesauce hasn’t read it yet.

But mostly, there’s just a lot of waiting. A looott of waiting. Days and days and weeks and weeks of waiting…kind of like how you’re waiting now for me to stop blabbering and get to the point of this article.

…which is: (ahem) Three Things to Do When Querying.

Number 1: Sleep on everything.

No, not literally. I know at least one of you out there had a Huh? moment. I’m not recommending you develop a sudden habit of conking out on department store bed displays or subway benches.

What I mean is, don’t make any hasty decisions. Wrote a batch of queries today? Resist the urge to send them all off immediately. Sleep on it, then re-read them the next morning with a fresh mind and see if there are any grammar/spelling mistakes. Make sure you’re addressing the right person, too. That always helps with the whole Make a Good Impression thing.

The same goes for any substantial reply you make to an agent. A few hours usually won’t hurt anything, and it’ll help keep you from regretting hastily penned responses. At the very least, wait fifteen minutes or something. I don’t know about you, but anything I write tends to be more coherent and rational if I’ve had sixty minutes to ponder it, versus one.

Number 2: Research some more agents

This will keep you busy and help dull the insatiable appetite you’ve probably developed for all things publishing related. Use Querytracker and AgentQuery until you can navigate them with your eyes closed. Follow #askagent and #askintern and #queries on Twitter.

Find an agent who sounds great for your book? Read any interviews they’ve done. Check out their agency’s website. See if they tweet or have a blog. Research, research, research. Then craft a query to suit their interests—while remaining true to your story, of course.

Number 3: Work on your next book

You’re going to need one. I don’t remember who said this, or even the exact words he said, but it rings true to me: “I want to be a writer, not someone who has written a book.” Okay, so we can argue all day long about who gets to be called a “writer,” but that’s not the point. The point is, keep writing! If you find Mr./Ms. Perfect Agent and get signed, then yay! you’re ahead of the game for book number two! If, for whatever reason, your current book fails to attract any offers, well, you’ve got another project in the works.

Any other tips from those of you querying? If you haven’t started yet, what are your thoughts/apprehensions about the matter?

And finally, good luck to all!


Kat Zhang is a Spoken Word poet and a Creative Writing major. She is represented by Emmanuelle Morgen and spends most of her free time whipping HYBRID–a book about a girl with two souls–into shape for submission to publishers. You can read more about her writing process and books at her blog.



14 Responses to “3 Things to Do While Querying”

  1. Caitlin December 28, 2010 at 3:14 PM #

    Yep, I’m doing some querying. I should probably start doing some more research and send out another batch soon – my querying tends to be rather sporadic and spaced out, since I do it when I’ve got a couple of hours free to research and send, and really, what college student has a couple of hours free all the time?

    I had a dream about querying last night. This is getting intense. 😛

    • Kat Zhang December 29, 2010 at 12:36 AM #

      Haha, querying really does take over your life 😛 And I definitely understand the college student woes…

  2. Rowenna December 28, 2010 at 4:53 PM #

    Great post, Kat! Definitely agree on all three points 🙂 Especially starting a new book! Can I add, maintain scrupulously detailed agent spreadsheet? Let me tell you, having that–including contact info and where to find them on the web–makes approaching your second round of queries much easier!

    • Kat Zhang December 29, 2010 at 12:37 AM #

      Thanks, Rowenna! I didn’t have a great spreadsheet, but many of my friends do or did, and it’s a great idea. I should be that organized 😛

  3. Brandi December 28, 2010 at 6:37 PM #

    I’m currrently in the midst of Query Letter Hell (literally – it’s a forum on Absolute Write). So right now I have a lot of people ripping my query letter to shreds, but I love it! I’m also a complete mess – thank God I have a husband who loves doing housework because I can’t focus on anything else right now.

    • Kat Zhang December 29, 2010 at 12:38 AM #

      Ahh, Query Letter Hell. Great place for feedback!

  4. Ellen December 28, 2010 at 7:31 PM #

    I’m going to be querying in probably a month or two. My goal was by summer, but with the amount of work I’ve been putting into my book it will probably be sooner than that. I have a query letter written that is on draft four, and a book that is on draft five. What I need to do is research more agents. *sigh* So much to do. I will definitely be taking your list to heart once I get started with the whole process.

    • Kat Zhang December 29, 2010 at 12:38 AM #

      I’ll be cheering for you! 😀

  5. Savannah J. Foley December 29, 2010 at 10:08 AM #

    I think Gloria Stein said, “I do not like writing. I like to have written.” Not really the same thing, but I never get to demonstrate my knowledge of that quote so… here you go 🙂

  6. Sudama Chandra Panigrahi January 15, 2011 at 10:12 AM #

    Good garland of words. But a newbie has his anxiety. he commits mistakes, gloss over that, send queries, check the mailbox. These are natural and unless one is published the things happen to be there.

    Oh, yes the third one writing another piece is marvelous. I’m working on my fourth project leaving two projects midway. I am yet to get a favorable response from any agent or mainstream publisher, then you think my anxiety. Can i afford not to check my inbox for about a day after querying. The anticipation is there and anxiety is there. Just obvious.

    I follow all two but sadly yet to follow the first one. Lol.

    Useful post for newbie writers.

    • Kat Zhang January 15, 2011 at 11:15 AM #

      Thanks for reading! I’m glad you found it helpful 🙂

  7. Patricia Beaudin January 15, 2011 at 1:23 PM #

    I sent my query to a blog to be critiqued and had to repeat Douglas Adam’s mantra “Don’t panic!” (Which makes me think of towels! lol) I also told a few friends and the encouragement they gave helped me calm down so I’d add, tell your friends! They will cheer you on and ease your anxiety.

    • Kat Zhang January 15, 2011 at 2:08 PM #

      Yes, definitely 🙂

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