And the Insanity Begins…

I spent most of Friday and Saturday compiling information on agents that sell in my genre(s). What fun, what fun!

I still have all my info from the last time I did the query merry-go-round, but I decided to start fresh this time. After all, some agents change agencies or start their own shops, some stop accepting unsolicited queries, and some just stop agenting. I wanted to make sure that my information was fresh and up-to-date.

One of the things that bothered me the last time I did this was that I only had a nebulous idea of what “level” each agent stood at. Top-tier agent, middle-of-the-road agent, might-not-even-want-to-query them agent? So this time, I decided to create a ranking system. I used several factors for my ranking:

  • Are they a member of the AAR?
  • Do they have sales verified by Preditors and Editors?
  • Do they have a “Recommended” or “Highly Recommended” rating from P&E?
  • Do they sell YA?
  • Do they sell fantasy?

I created a spreadsheet in which I documented the answer to each of these questions for each agent I researched. Then I gave one “point” for each “Yes”. E.g., an agent who is a member of the AAR, has verified sales, is recommended by P&E, and sells YA AND fantasy receives five points. An agent who is NOT a member of the AAR, does NOT sell fantasy, does NOT have an actual recommendation from P&E, but sells YA and has verified sales, receives two points.

I ranked 44 agents on these criteria. Results:

  • 5-pointers: 6
  • 4-pointers: 13
  • 3-pointers: 14
  • 2-pointers: 8
  • 1-pointers: 2

I’m well aware that my criteria are not all equal–for instance, an agent who doesn’t have a membership with the AAR but has a recommendation from P&E might be just as good as an agent who has both. Hey, I didn’t say I was perfect, did I? The system just gives me a better idea of which agents I want to target.

My big concern right now is who to query, and when. I know most people say to start at the top and work your way down. I, however, think it might be more worthwhile to try a more scattershot approach, at least at first. I’m considering sending my first batch of queries to a mixture of agents: maybe two 4-pointers, one 3-pointer, and two 2-pointers. If I don’t receive any requests for partials from that batch, then I’ll know that my query needs some revision before I try any of the big guys.

Any thoughts?

 

Comments: 4

 
 
 

I don’t have an agent, so take this with a grain (or margarita *g) of salt, but the advice I hear repeated most often is to pick a number (say 3, or 5) to query every week and just keep sending them out until you score an agent. If you queried 4 agents per week, it’d take 11 weeks to get through ’em all, and by then you’d start to hear from the first batch. (This method also suggests starting with the ones you want the most, so that if the offers do start rolling in, you can accept the first in good conscience)

 

 

Hmm. That just might be the best way to go about it. I’m worried that my query letter may need tweaking, but…criminy. I’ve tweaked it to death. I guess I just have to bite the bullet and start sending…once the synopsis is done, of course!

 

 

When I finish the first draft of this next book, I plan to 1) join backspace.org, enabling me to network with agents, authors and editors, 2) polish my query at both backspace and AbsoluteWrite, and when the final draft is complete, 3) send my queries to a mix of agents at all experience levels within established agencies. A newcomer agent at a good agency can make a solid sale. Have you ever read the story about Nicholas Sparks’s first sale? Google his site and give it a read; it’s an amazing story.

 

 

I joined my state writer’s group and got a CP out of that, and he and I passed my query back and forth several times. In addition to that, my husband and several articulate, writerly friends have each had their (often conflicting) say, several times.

The damn thing has been beaten to death, risen from ashes, and beaten to death again. It’s almost ready, after all that. And the synopsis is taking shape. Slooooowly.

I don’t necessarily mind querying a new agent as long as they’re with an established agency and have some history in the industry. It just wouldn’t be my very first choice, that’s all.

 

 

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