The querying process is long and arduous. That much should be obvious by now. You need to find agents (a task that is surprisingly time-consuming), to write good queries, and to keep an eye on the queries you’ve already sent.
And that’s not all – if you want to improve your queries (not just the letter itself, but your writing samples and synopsis over time, it helps to know what worked and what didn’t.
That’s an awful lot of information to track, which is why I created a spreadsheet to track my progress.
I’m not going to put it up for download, because it’s full of weird color codes and assorted notes. It works for me, but it wouldn’t necessarily work for anyone else. Instead, here’s the list of the information I track:
- Name of the agency;
- Name of the agent;
- Date I sent my query;
- Date I received an answer;
- Date at which I should consider the query ignored or dead. Here, I make a note of whether no answer means I should re-query the agent, query another agent at the same agency, or consider that agency as a lost cause.
- What materials the agent requested. Some agents ask for five pages, other for ten or fifty. Some agents want a synopsis, others don’t. I’m tracking that to see if, for instance, I have more success with my first five or first fifty pages.
- Any useful comments made by the agent upon rejection – obviously, I don’t track form letters and generic rejections, but I do want to note any hints and pointers I get.
Hopefully that helps anyone looking for help in managing the query process.