Query Report 3: Ouch.

It’s that time again, and this time, it’s not so good.

  1. Potential Agents Identified: 29. As usual, that’s probably low-balling it a bit.
  2. Query Letters Sent: 23. That includes one letter sent directly to a publisher, who’s actively soliciting un-agented manuscripts.
  3. Rejection Letters Received: 15, including one from the agent who had requested a partial manuscript. That’s the “ouch.”
  4. Ignored Queries: 0. I’ve moved the three I had in that category into the clear rejections category. Right now, all of my queries have been either rejected, have been responseless for at least a month more than the recipient claims is their dead-by date, or are still well within the live-query zone.
  5. Manuscript Requests: 0. The one request I had has been moved to rejections.

Where does that leave me?

Well, obviously, my basic query wasn’t working. A 1-in-8 manuscript request rate wasn’t great, a 1-in-15 rate is flat-out terrible.

So I’ve reworked my query – I’ve added comparables and a short bio, and I’ve rewritten part of the pitch (there was some awkward phrasing in there that I’m very glad I fixed.) We’ll see how it goes.

Back to the Query Drawing Board

I’m now beginning to get replies from my second series of queries, and I have to face the music: what I’m doing is not working very well.

On the positive side, it’s my query that seems to be the problem, not my manuscript. And I have inklings of what is wrong.

First, my query didn’t include an author bio. That may not seem like a big thing (and it probably isn’t the main reason my queries keep failing,) but including a quick line about me probably makes the letter a bit more relatable. And it’s something that I should have remembered: people are much more likely to give you a chance if they like you.

That’s easy to remedy, too: it’s easy to integrate a line or two that turn my impersonal query in a personal email. It’s a small-cost, high-impact change.

But the lack of a bio isn’t the big issue, I think. The major problem is that I didn’t state comparables. I’m probably too modest for my own good, and by ignoring comps I’m making it a lot harder to understand what story I’m offering, and it’s also ignoring the opportunity to sell my book.

Comparables are tricky, however. If I had to pick just one, I’d say my book most resembles the Dresden Files. But that’s a major series, and obviously some could find it a bit presumptuous that I want to compare my freshman novel to a beloved, fifteen-books-and-change opus. It’s not my intention: I really do think that my book is similar in structure, and style, to Fool Moon or Grave Peril.

But I’m going to try it, at least for one round of querying. Hopefully, it’ll hook more people than it’ll turn off. We’ll see!