1. texshelters

    texshelters Active Member

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    Query Letter Protocols for sending out queries

    Discussion in 'Query & Cover Letter Critique' started by texshelters, Jan 3, 2017.

    In the next week or so I will be sending out queries for a fiction novel. I have sent out queries for a nonfiction book before, so this is not completely new for me.

    My question is, what is the expectation? Can I send out many queries at once, should I send one at a time, what is expected of me?

    I have found a few agents and publishers that would be appropriate. Is it better to send queries to an agent or directly to the publishing house? Should I use a "shotgun" approach or should I be more targeted?

    Any suggestions?

    Peace, Joe "Tex" Callahan
     
  2. terobi

    terobi Senior Member

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    As far as I can tell, most of the big publishers are closed to unsolicited submissions - so getting an agent is your best bet (you'll want to get one even if a publisher accepted your manuscript regardless, since you'll want someone to negotiate contracts/rights/international/etc. on your behalf, so you may as well start there).

    Aside from that, my research suggests that most agents expect you to be querying multiple agencies, so that's fine. A targetted approach is also the best option, but is much more labour-intensive (since you will, of course, be wanting to personalise each query to explain why you think they'd be a good fit for your work, their clients who you admire, etc.)
     
  3. texshelters

    texshelters Active Member

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    Thanks. Publishers not open to unsolicited materials post as much on their sites, thankfully, so I won't waste my time there. There are a couple of middle-sized outfits tied to larger publishers, i.e. Penguin, that are open for submissions. Peace, Joe Tex
     
  4. BayView

    BayView Huh. Interesting. Contributor

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    I'd still recommend that you decide up front whether you want an agent. Once you've submitted to a publisher, that MS is pretty much done in terms of being resubmitted, so your agent's hands will be tied if you've already burned bridges she might have had a better chance of getting across. There are good reasons to work with agents, and good reasons to not work with agents, but you should make the decision, at least on a temporary basis, before you start submitting.

    Assuming you do want an agent, I think it's a good strategy to submit in batches of about ten. Make sure there's a dream agent in your first batch, then fill up the rest of the slots with agents you'd be pleased to work with but aren't necessarily your dream. Send the queries and see how things go - if you get no positive responses there's probably an issue with your query, and you'll be pleased that you didn't send that dodgy query to all the agents on your list.

    If you decide to submit directly to publishers, most of them have their policies on simultaneous submissions posted somewhere on their websites. If they don't want an exclusive, you can submit to as many as you want, but remember again that it's probably a good idea to hedge your bets and see how the query works before you send it out too widely.

    Some of this is covered in a post I did a while back - it's at https://www.writingforums.org/threads/so-you-wrote-a-novel-and-want-to-get-it-published.148510/
     
    Dnaiel, texshelters and 123456789 like this.
  5. mrieder79

    mrieder79 Probably not a ground squirrel Contributor

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    Be careful about querying too soon. You only get one shot at querying your top agent picks, so you want to make sure you letter is as good as you can get it beforehand. QueryShark is a great reference for developing your query letter.

    queryshark.blogspot.com

    I also post here as many people have helpful tips.
     
  6. texshelters

    texshelters Active Member

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    Thanks. Good suggestions. I have a list of about 20 good agent leads ranked A to C based on matching. I will start there and send out 5 at a time or so.
    Peace, Joe Tex
     
  7. texshelters

    texshelters Active Member

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    Oh, I will have two writers read my query first. Thanks! Peace, Joe Tex
     
  8. deadrats

    deadrats Contributor Contributor

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    I don't see why it would be any different from before. But I will say sending out only five at a time seems a bit slim. I would try more like 20 at a time.
     
  9. terobi

    terobi Senior Member

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    I wouldn't be too fast to burn through my shortlist like that - sending five at a time gives you an opportunity to work out if your query is working. If you get a couple of full requests, your query is working, even if they pass on your novel (at which point, you know where the problem is), but if you don't get any requests, then your query needs redrafting. I'd rather know that towards the beginning, rather than after I've exhausted all my top choices, wouldn't you?
     
  10. BayView

    BayView Huh. Interesting. Contributor

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    Even with a good query, you won't likely get a request rate higher than 10-20%, as I understand the situation. So at that rate, sending five wouldn't really be enough for a fair test of the query.
     
  11. deadrats

    deadrats Contributor Contributor

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    I wouldn't trust five rejections to tell me much of anything. And by the time you're querying agents I would think that you query and your novel are ready for this. It can be a slow process. Five just seems really low to me.
     
  12. Tenderiser

    Tenderiser Not a man or BayView

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    Some genres might only have 40-50 agents worth having. Giving yourself just two shots at the game isn't a good idea. Nor is dragging it out indefinitely by doing five at a time.

    But who am I to give advice? I went again pretty much all the usual (and very sensible) advice for querying agents...
     
  13. Spencer1990

    Spencer1990 Contributor Contributor

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    I'm surprised no one has commented on this. I can't give advice about the query as I'm still researching agents and all that myself, but I've seen this as an instant turn-off listed multiple times.

    Novels, by definition, are fiction. From what I've read, this shows a lack of knowledge and can get your query immediately tossed.

    I don't say this to be rude, but I'd want someone to tell me.
     
    deadrats likes this.
  14. deadrats

    deadrats Contributor Contributor

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    I was thinking this, but last time I called someone out for something like this I got called a dick by the OP on a different thread (not this person) who said he obviously knew what I said already even though that wasn't how it was written in the original post. Whatever. If people want to be stupid, I'm probably going to let them. But Spencer is right here.
     
    Last edited: Jan 5, 2017
  15. texshelters

    texshelters Active Member

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    Congrats.
    Peace, Tex
     
  16. Spencer1990

    Spencer1990 Contributor Contributor

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    Congrats?

    "Thank you for helping me to not sound unknowledgeable" are the words you're looking for.

    ETA: I honestly can't tell if this was meant to be sarcastic, but this is the internet, so I default to yes.
     
    Last edited: Jan 6, 2017
    Tenderiser and ChickenFreak like this.

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