Here is your official checklist to use before querying EVERY agent. It’ll save time, money, frustration, and hopefully make the process smoother. Everyone knows that those of us in publishing kick into full gear after Labor Day. Here’s a checklist to make sure you’re ready too!
- Did you complete the full book proposal (no partials please). If the book is fiction, have you completed the final version of the manuscript and its synopsis? If one or both are not available, take some quality time and complete the necessary materials.
- Is the query letter written? Does it explain WHAT your book is about, WHO wrote it, and WHY it is commercially viable for the large publishers? Does it fit onto one page? If your query letter doesn’t explain the WHO/WHAT/WHY or is too long, rewrite it.
- Do your research, WHO will you query?
- Does each agent represent your book’s category? If not, stop and redo your list. Only query agents who represent the book’s category.
- Now that the agents are finalized, have their individual submission preferances been duly noted? If not, go back to the original resource material, and record this information. Then follow their requested submission guidelines.
- Prepare the queries. Avoid using the phrases To Whom It May Concern, Dear Sir/Madam, Dear Agent, and pretty much any greeting that doesn’t include the agent’s NAME.
- Send out the query LETTERS. Then wait, there’s really no timeline here – some agents are able to answer quickly, others not as able. Please do not send a reminder email or place a reminder phone call that you’ve sent an initial query to us – this does not help hasten the process.
- If an agent requests to see the book proposal, synopsis, or mss (or a combination), mail/email in a prompt time. Reminder: Follow the submission guidelines – down to the type of document and how it’s to be sent (email, USPS, Fedex, etc…)
- More waiting will occur. This can take anywhere from 2 weeks to 2 months. If 6 weeks have passed, feel free to drop a note to the agent and see how things are coming along. Anytime earlier is probably not a good idea, especially if the agent is in the middle of a very busy season with his/her current projects.
- If rejection letters arrive – read them thoroughly. Look at the reasons your book is being turned down. Did you the query an agent(s) who don’t represent the book’s category? Is your book’s category different than imagined initially? Is there advice or suggestions from any of the letters? Do you need to work on your writing platform? etc. . . These letters can help determine what steps should be taken for your next round of query letters.
- Rewrite, rewrite, rewrite – once you’ve mulled over the rejection letters. Also implement any other suggestions that would help you get published, ex: expanding your writing platform.
- Start the process over again (go back to #1)
I have received a lot of rejections and not one has said there is anything wrong with my writing.
I only send what they are asking for and yet I keep being told it’s not what they are looking for right this minute and that publishers are really picky.
So what do you do with that?
Have you looked at your writing platform? Does it need to grow? Have you had anyone critique your book? Get some input. What does your competition look like? See how you can rise above it.
It may be worth your time working with a writing consultant, or even joining a writing group and getting some 2nd opinions.
I’m currently sitting in slot 9. Waiting never really get easier, no matter what stage of the game you’re in.
But hell, no news also means no rejection… Yet. Gotta try to look up whenever you can!