In my last post, I shared some tips on gathering a list of potential agents for your complete, polished manuscript. Now, I'd like to dig deeper into my process finding the agents most compatible with the ms you are pitching. You only get one shot to query your dream agent. Might as well make it count.
While I research, I sort each of the agents according to how good a fit I think they will be. Some I set aside to research further or check on later if they're either closed to queries or lacking a web presence.
I assign each agent a rank from 1 to 5, with 1 being my top choice. As I research further, that number might fluctuate. Most agents on my list fall in the 2 to 3 category. Only those who I really feel will connect with my work receive a top rank of 1.My ranking system might have taken a wrong turn at crazy town, but the end result has proved satisfactory.
I mentioned in my last post that I like to print hard copies of pertinent information to refer back to (just too many to bookmark). I write query requirements on the front of each packet for easy reference.
I also create a spreadsheet, which is probably a bit of overkill but great for quick reference. My headings are: Agent, Agency, Rank, Date Queried, Query Included, Response Time, Auto Response, Materials Requested, Comments. In the comments column, I include links to blogs or websites, insider information such as who they represent that is similar to me, and personal informaiton or preferences that might influence my query or allow for personalization.
I think personalization is so important. You want them to know you've done your homework and are aware of what they are looking to acquire. You are requesting a business relationship with a professional and need to treat a query as such.
I queryied slowly by sending a few each week. I started in the middle of the pack. I got immediate feedback, telling me my query letter was up to snuff.
Then comes the hard part--the waiting. That is where I am now. Of course, my husband was diagnosed with cancer a few weeks into the query process, and I had to suspend submissions for about a year while I concentrated on his treatments. I have learned to wait.
Bottom line, querying is scary, but finding a workable list of potential agents is Gold! Jerry, Gold! (Seinfeld reference, for those who might not share my tv addiction).
Until next time . . . Good Luck and Happy writing!