Monday, February 7, 2011

Query Update

Total queries: 50
Pending queries: 8
Non-responses: 1

I recorded my first non-response last week, on February first, exactly three months to the day from when I started querying. I’d long since given up on that particular query (the agent in question generally responds within a week if interested), but I don’t write it down as an official non-response until I hit the three-month mark. Because you never know when an agent might get back to you at an unexpected time.

Case in point: Last week, I actually recorded my first TWO non-responses, and unlike the first one, that second query had stayed with me. The agent was one I’d interviewed, and even though her agency employs a no-response-means-no policy, I really thought she’d at least send me one of those quick thank-you-for-the-look-but-no-thanks kind of notes. I followed up with her once, at the end of November, explaining that I thought my first query might have gone astray, but I never heard back on that one, either. I figured she was either swamped or uninterested or both.

Fast forward to mid-January. I finished Bob’s revision, and as I was sending out a few new queries, I noticed this agent’s name at the top of my query spreadsheet. Against my better judgment, I decided to give her one more try. I sent her one last query, logged the date in my spreadsheet, and resolved to move on after that. And I did. (Like I said, I marked the query down as a non-response last Tuesday.)

But when I opened up my inbox Friday morning, I found a surprise e-mail waiting for me from this agent. She thanked me for following up and apologized profusely for missing my earlier queries. Then she requested a hundred pages:)

I don’t have a rule for when I follow up and when I don’t. I know most people discourage you from following up on a query, ever, but I don’t think that’s as cut-and-dried as everybody makes it sound. If the agent claims or appears to respond to every query and you never hear back, chances are, the agent never got your e-mail. As long as you’re upfront about it--and as long as you’re professional--I don’t see a problem with sending the agent another note (provided you feel strongly about it).

Following up on requested manuscripts is even trickier. On the one hand, it’s really nerve-wracking to wait it out for weeks, and sometimes months, and most people agree that checking in with agents at the three- or four-month mark is an acceptable querying practice. Keep in mind, however, that when you follow up on requested material, you might as well be throwing up a white flag that says, “Please respond to me! No one else is interested in my manuscript, and I’m desperately hoping you are!”

Note: The previous paragraph does NOT apply if you receive an offer of representation. In that case, the ONLY thing to do is contact the agents who are still considering your manuscript in any way and inform them of the offer. Post haste.

In sum, the art of following up is definitely an art. Go with your gut. And best of luck to all the people down there in the query trenches with me. How’s it going for you?

28 comments:

Elena Solodow said...

I'm querying right along with you. Stats are looking good so far. Fingers crossed.

Chantele Sedgwick said...

I just received two offers of representation last week! I've picked the right one for me, and am waiting for the contract to get back to the agent before I say who it is! Good luck with all your partials and fulls out there!! :D Things really do happen!

Kirk Kraft said...

Thanks for sharing, Krista. I'm pretty close to beginning the querying process and it's educational to see how things are going for you.

Janet Johnson said...

So interesting to hear your story. Definitely things to keep in mind. Best of luck in your querying!

Steph said...

I always go with my gut when choosing whether to follow up or not. Not sure what the determining factor whether or not to do it is in the end- sometimes I just don't feel comfortable doing it. When I have, I have never had anything but a cordial response (even if it was ultimately a rejection). Good advice here, Krista.

I started querying this mss in October. I sent out about 50 queries- got a total of 12 full requests and 7 partial req's. Still waiting to hear back on a couple of them before I pick up with querying some more on my list.

Big congrats to you, Chantele! :)

Connie said...

I think the waiting on partials and fulls is soo hard. And waiting on R&Rs is even worse. But I keep telling myself that hopefully sooner or later it will be worth it.

Congrats, Chantele!

Krista V. said...

Sounds good, Elena. Keep us updated.

Chantele, what exciting news! That's wonderful! I'm looking forward to hearing more about it on your blog...

You're welcome, Kirk. Querying is sort of this big, scary thing, so it's nice to know that other people are right there with you.

Thank you, Janet!

Sounds like things are going swimmingly for you, Steph. Good luck with your next round!

Oh, I hear ya, Connie. Oh, I hear ya... :)

Kelly Bryson said...

Hey Krista- thanks for sharing. I love the word "post-haste." Good luck!

Shari said...

You're so right -- sometimes we just have to trust our instinct. When it comes to story ideas, I always say that there's a reason why they won't leave our thoughts, because we're meant to write them. Maybe it's the same with something like this. If we keep coming back to that follow-up, it can't hurt to give it a try. So glad it worked out for you! Congratulations on the newest request!!

A.L. Sonnichsen said...

That's so cool that you finally heard back from that agent. Good job trusting your gut. And I love your advice in this post. Very sound.

Very, very best of luck with all the material you have out!! That's awesome.

Amy

Myrna Foster said...

Congrats on the request, Krista! I was thinking about you earlier today, wondering how things were going.

And congrats, Chantele!

Kimberly said...

Such great thoughts on following up. It really is an art!

I'm crossing my fingers for you for good news!

The Sisterhood said...

That's great, Krista! I've never followed up on a query, partial or ms, but after reading your story I'm now wondering if some of my queries (or even a couple of partials I've been waiting on for a few months) never got to the agents (?)

BTW, you should definitely query Chelsea. I've met her twice in person and she's awesome!

Best of luck with all your queries!

Lorena

PS. Congratulations Chantele on your offers!

Krista V. said...

Kelly, we need to use that word more often, don't we?

Thank you for your enthusiasm, Shari. It's contagious:)

Thanks, Amy. When do you think you'll be jumping back on the query-go-round?

Myrna, I'm glad I'm not the only one who thinks about how things are going:) (Actually, I probably think about it enough for, like, half the world's population...)

Thank you, Kimberly. I appreciate that. I'm hoping, hoping, hoping, too. (Not that all of this isn't good news, because it is. I'm just hoping for some GREAT news:) )

Lorena, if you're not sure that the query/requested manuscript even made it, I think it could definitely be worth your time to check in. And that's a great excuse to follow up. ("Just checking in to see if you received my manuscript...") Also, thanks for the reminder about Chelsea. She does seem like a great agent.

Yvonne Osborne said...

Good luck on those hundred pages. That's great.

Tracy said...

Hi Krista,

Feel a little like a heel. I thought I left a comment the other day when I followed you, but apparently I must of done something wrong, doh!

First of all, LOVE your agent interviews. Keep up the great work!! And I completely agree, you have to go with your gut on whether to follow up with someone or not. It also depends on how important that particular agent is to you personally.

Krista V. said...

Thank you, Yvonne!

No worries, Tracy. Thanks for your comment now. I'm so glad you like the agent interviews. I like them, too:)

Marybk said...

Hey, Krista, good for you!

I'm taking a break from querying right now...had three full rejections, so I'm trying to decide what to revise before I start again.

Your interviews are a KEY resource for me, though. Thanks for all your work!

Liesl said...

That's great Krista! I know it takes courage to follow up. I've not started the query process yet, but I remember when I auditioned for a summer acting job. I thought the audition went well and I really clicked with the director, so I was surprised when my friend got an offer and I didn't hear anything. On a whim I emailed the director and let him know that I was still interested and yippee! He called me and said my offer must have gone astray and it ended up being a great summer job! I guess sometimes it's okay to err on the side of annoying.

Chantele Sedgwick said...

Thanks guys! Good luck everyone with querying!! :D

Krista V. said...

Marybk, thanks for reading and commenting on so many of the interviews. I appreciate that. And good luck with your revisions.

Liesl, this line --> "I guess sometimes it's okay to err on the side of annoying" <-- had me laughing out loud:)

Thanks, Chantele! Have you officially accepted an offer yet? Have you posted your how-I-got-an-interview story? Oh, I guess I'll just go check out your blog... :)

Esther Vanderlaan said...

YES!!! Glad to hear the agent is interested! All the best to you. Hope you get it published. I'll be one of the first ones to get it- I hope.

Stina Lindenblatt said...

That's why I hate non responders . . . because your query might have been lost in cyberspace. On the other hand, it's nice to forget you queried them because they haven't sent you a rejection.

Krista V. said...

Thank you, Esther. I hope I get it published, too:)

Stina, I've noticed a lot more agents seem to have gone to that no-response-means-no policy since I queried my last manuscript (in the summer and fall of 2009). However, a lot more of them have adopted an auto-responder, too, so at least you don't have to wonder if your query made it. The ones that chap my hide a little are the ones who only respond when interested and DON'T have an auto-responder to confirm receipt. Oh, well. Guess they just want to be re-queried:)

Carol Riggs said...

I too dislike the non-responding types. After 3 months, I sent a reminder regarding a requested full. They ARE busy people, these agents. Editors? well, you have to give them longer than 3-4 months!

Krista V. said...

Carol, I've heard editors are even harder to nail down than agents. That's why we all need agents, right? So someone else can do the nagging for us:)

Barbara Kloss said...

Krista--thanks for posting all of this! I JUST started down that frightful road of querying (shaking), and it encourages me seeing exactly how many agents you've notified, how you're organizing, etc! Best of luck to you! Oh, and I love how you've referred to your manuscript as Bob. That's awesome. I'm going to go and nickname mine...

Krista V. said...

Barbara, good, good luck with your querying! I nickname my manuscripts because I rarely come up with good titles right off the bat. (Actually, I didn't even come up with Bob's title. I held a contest instead, and the winning entry was that good. Thanks again, Ben Spendlove!)