So you’ve written a novel and you’ve finished polishing your query letter, so what’s next? Now, it’s time to query.
Querying is time consuming and a lot of the times, disheartening. There are a lot of great tools to help writers find the right agents to query. Manuscript wish list on Twitter is a great tool - and very up to date. Twitter is a great way to follow agents you’d love to work with and get a sense of what they are really looking for.
I love to use QueryTracker - it’s a great tool that helps you put together lists of agents, track when you sent your query and when you heard back.
The amount of time you spend querying is really up to personal preference. I’ve chatted with lots of writers, some who queried for a month and some who queried for years. So when do you stop querying?
That’s the hard question that I had to ask myself recently.
A few years ago, I went to the Writer’s Digest Novel Writing Conference and attended a session about NaNoWriMo. During that session, we did a writing sprint based on a prompt and this idea for a novel came to life. It included everything I love - dystopian futures, love triangles, strong women and it also included my deathly fear of zombies. This book became my baby and I worked on it tirelessly.
Now, I’ve made lots of revisions and got the story to a place that I love. I had someone help me with my query letter because I can write 80,000 words but dialing it all down into 250 is impossible. Then, the querying process began! The anxious wait began and I received a lot of form letters, which I expected. You can’t win them all. Surprisingly, I also got a couple of real responses from agents.
No, they weren’t asking for more pages but they took the time to give me some great advice. They liked my premise and all the pieces were there - it was compelling, great voice and the stakes were high.
But dystopian has been done before. SO MANY TIMES. It’s a hard category to sell. And if an agent had sent me this email a few years ago, I would have been devastated. I get it now and it just made me pause for a moment. I love my story and am proud of it but I’ve got lots more to write and lots more to publish.
So when is it time to stop querying? Maybe you never stop. But for me, it’s time to stop querying. I’m okay with that. My book will always be mine and maybe it’s better that way.