Q02: Querying History

(This question is part of a larger subseries called Perpetual WIPs: Querying Writers. For the remaining questions, see here.)

How many manuscripts did you query before the one you’re querying now? If it’s not your first, has your target agent list changed, and if so, based on what factors?

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I’ve queried one MS prior to this, but that was more than four years ago. My agent list changed a little, based on agents leaving the business, changing their focus, and what I’ve learned from doing more research into querying and agent personalities.

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I’ve queried two manuscripts previously, although I had no idea what I was doing with the first one and really shouldn’t have queried it at all. I was serious with the second one and even still have a couple of fulls out there (they’ve had them more than six months). Agents who requested the previous manuscript moved to the top of my list with this one, although only one of those agents has requested my current MS, so that’s interesting. The two concepts are very different. I also signed up for the premium membership on QueryTracker and moved up agents who requested a lot of MG in the last year, as well as agents listed as having similar taste in MG to those who requested my previous MS.

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I queried my first MS to anyone under the sun, and only got one partial request 😐 ( I ultimately ended signing that MS with a small publisher) For this MS, I did way more research. I read blogs, scan twitter feeds, stalk interviews etc. My thought process has changed from “I want an agent sooooo bad, I’ll take anyone” to only querying agents I would sign with in a heart beat.

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I queried one before this one. My target agent list changed a little because of the agents’ interests, but they are both YA projects so many overlapped.

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I’ve queried two different novels up to this point.  My target agent list has somewhat changed for two reasons. 1. The two novels are different and not every agent that will take romantic comedies will take my YA horror novel. 2. The first time around querying, I didn’t know what I was doing or looking for. I’ve done more homework since then.

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I only queried one manuscript before my current one, and it was a tremendous learning process. I didn’t think about genre or marketing before writing it, so it was sort of in the “new adult” category that’s not really a category for most agents/publishers. Now, I’m specifically writing YA (current querying ms and another that I’m drafting). My agent list has actually grown like crazy, which I’m super excited about! More agents, it seems, are looking for YA (and especially contemporary YA) than women’s fiction, which was how I wound up branding my first manuscript. I’m also paying a lot more attention to agents on Twitter. If an agent tweets their wish list and my genre happens to be on it — for example, one recently tweeted that she loves contemporary YA about music, which is exactly what mine’s about! — then they usually go to the top of my list.

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I queried one MS before the one I’m currently querying. It did really well, with a lot of fulls, but ultimately the MS was flawed. My agent list is very similar. I did have some changes, like bumping any agent who requested my last MS up higher on my query list for my new MS, but otherwise they’re pretty much the same list. I’m a firm believer in querying widely, so my list is pretty large…

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This is my first manuscript I am querying. (Two individual writers)

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I’ve queried 4 other manuscripts, although I only sent the first three to agents/editors I met at conferences (stupid, I know). I queried about 20 agents with the fourth manuscript, but although I got a fair request rate, the feedback I got wasn’t that helpful and in the meantime I was falling in love with the manuscript I’m currently querying, so I abandoned it.

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I’ve queried one manuscript prior to this one, and quickly realized that it would be a tough sell. For my current project, the target agent list is actually larger, which is a good thing!

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Quite a bit of variety there too! What about you, querying writers? Care to share?

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