Rabbit Hole - analog collage by Diana Zahuranec

You’re Ready to Query Literary Agents…Now What?

I began sending out my query letter in early November. Because I began this newsletter as a way to keep track of my progress towards traditional publication (while hopefully, simultaneously, giving guidance to other first-time writers or at least a mutual feeling of “we’re all in this impossible goal together”)…it’s time for some updates!

Everything about writing a book takes longer than you’ll expect. Sorry; did I just blurt out an Inconvenient Truth? Ignorance is truly bliss. If you knew it would take five years to write a book, another one to find an agent, two more to become published…would you actually do it? And yet people are publishing books left and right every day, so it must mean a) they know about this Inconvenient Truth but don’t know what “discouraged” means, b) they don’t know and doggedly keep going, or c) they are all blissfully convinced They’re Special and will beat those odds. Hang on to whatever keeps you going, because if allllll of those authors did it, so can you, no matter how long it takes. This is what I told myself while studying for an Italian driver’s license, and it worked.

Rabbit Hole - analog collage by Diana Zahuranec
“Rabbit Hole” hand-cut collage by Diana Zahuranec. See more collages and acrylic I do at @dianaz48_art

Here is another fun warning: researching agents takes longer than you think. Talk about rabbit holes: the minute you find one good lead, you’ll start looking into it and suddenly, somehow, two hours have passed and you’ve only gotten started on one query email.

Case in point: On November 14, when I sent out my query letter to the first three agents, it took me two hours. Three agents, two hours. This is because each one requires different formatting, specifications, or guidelines. You also want to research each agent to make sure he or she is a fit for your book, and then, I know this is probably the least popular bit of advice but it’s really important, personalize it.

Sounds a bit like sending out resumes, doesn’t it? Sorry to state another Uncomfortable Fact. But there are a few necessary evils in the world, and they are tests and exams, sending out resumes, and querying agents. 

Needless to say, this whole process is a bit of a beast to take on. Below is my strategy for my own on-going agent querying process.

How to Begin Querying Agents

Prepare your query letter and synopsis before you begin to query. Here are two posts I wrote previously: The Synopsis, and Why You Should Learn to Love It and Gatekeepers and Query Letters.

In the months leading up to when you expect to begin querying, create your spreadsheet tracker. I don’t recommend getting too efficient and adding agents a year or even more than six months out because agents aren’t always accepting submissions. By the time you get around to querying, they might have closed their window. Click here to find the link to download the spreadsheet (scroll to the bottom).

Read the rest of this post on my Substack newsletter: Follow that story.

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