22 September 2011

Lessons from the Trenches: My Query Process by the Numbers

Since I'm now agented, I thought I'd share what the query process was like for me. I'm a planner. I like to know when things are supposed to happen, how long it will take, etc. Ask Mandy. I tell her to give me deadlines all the time. I need structure to make things happen.

So, we'll go month by month.

August 2010: I finished my first draft and sent to the most amazing critique partner I could ever ask for.

September 2010-February 24, 2011: Looked at notes and revised draft one. I'll call this completed version Draft 1.5.

February 24, 2011: Began querying. I made a ranked list of agents I'd like to try. Sent six queries in February.

March 2011: Sent 50 queries. These were from three different categories that I made up, Categories A, B, C, A being my most desired agents, B being cool agents but ones I wasn't 100% sold on, and C being agents who I hoped would probably say yes.

Some responded within minutes--7 minutes, to be exact. It took some longer, following the allotted amount of time on their website. Some, I never heard from. There's been a great kerfuffle about agents not responding to queries on the internet and I may address that at a later point.

I got one offer. Two requests for fulls, including a request from Mandy. One request for partial. I turned down the agent offer--I will have another post on this later, I promise. One full came back a rejection but with ideas for improving. Mandy said she'd be willing to look at a revised version. I thought working on a revision meant a fast turn around--I was wrong. I will have a post on this, too. Revisions received a rejection as well.

April 2011: Sent 16 queries. No offers, no requests.

May 2011: Sent 2 queries. No response. I was giving up hope at this point. I was doubting my intelligence at turning down the agent offer. I was caught in a downward spiral of bad thinking.

June 2011: Sent 2 queries. No response. I went to a novel revision retreat hosted by my local chapter of SCBWI. It was incredible. It was amazing. There are no other words. I learned everything I know about revision from this workshop with Cheryl Klein. I vowed to rewrite over the summer.

July 2011: Sent 2 queries. No response. Rewrite continues.

August 2011: Rewrite continues and finishes. I sent updated full manuscripts to both agents who requested a full in March, as well as to a few others who seemed possibly interested in the spring but had not taken the bait. I sent this revised version to all agents at 3:00am Friday morning, August 18. Tuesday, August 22, on The Day The Toilet Almost Exploded I got The Call from Mandy Hubbard

August 25, 2011: A year to the day after I finished my first draft, I signed with my agent!

So, that's it. My query process by the numbers. Have you guys had better luck?


Heather Thurmeier said...

Thanks for sharing your process with us! And congrats on signing with an agent!!

jeff7salter said...

I've queried 8 agents with my 4th complete ms. Never heard back from one. Got relatively quick rejections from 6. One requested a 'full' and has kept it for nearly 18 months. We were in e-mail contact during the first 9 months. After that I heard nothing. In this business, no news is usually bad news, I suppose.

Anonymous said...

Excellent stats, thanks for sharing.

Mandie Baxter said...

It's true what they say about never giving up. Glad to see it doesn't always happen overnight. Thanks for the numbers.

Joy N. Hensley said...

No problem, Heather. I just wanted to be able to help by letting others see that it definitely doesn't happen overnight!

Joy N. Hensley said...

Jeff--definitely keep going. NEVER give up. One of these times it will happen. Hard to remember when you're getting rejections, but keep pushing!

Joy N. Hensley said...

Donna, glad you enjoyed it!

Joy N. Hensley said...

Mandi--Definitely doesn't happen over night and even though it's hard not to give up, you've just got to keep on keeping on if this is what you want in your heart of hearts!

C. R. Bailey said...

I started querying about the time I got the first 50 pages of my (almost) final revisions done--which I embarked on after a rejection on the full ms. That was about 8 months ago. 28 agents total have either declined or refrained from replying. A small pub has the full. Got a months-old rejection just this week. More to come, I'm sure. Thanks for sharing your timeline and your numbers. We have to keep going!

Joy N. Hensley said...

Exactly, Chris. And it's so hard sometimes. When we've poured our heart and soul into something for weeks/months/years it's hard for someone to reject it and not take it personally. My fingers are crossed for you!

Anonymous said...

Congratulations girlie. You have an awesome agent!!