Submission strategy

My WIP is getting close to ready. I can feel it.

As a result, over the past few months I’ve been considering the query process, and how I plan to go about it.

In my regular ruminations on the subject, I always seem to run up against this little nugget: if I submit at the same time to every agent on my list – what happens if 99% reject it, and 1% send me a personalized note suggesting an important change. If I then make that important change – who is left to query with my newly corrected manuscript? Nobody, that’s who.

Instead my plan is this: query in waves. First I’m going to develop a list of agents I feel might be good matches for myself and my WIP. Then I’m going to chunk that list up into groups, ensuring that each wave includes at least one agent that really gets my heart pumping. Then? Then I’m going to submit to the first group and begin crossing my fingers.

My approach is a tad complicated, and probably slower than it need be, but it allows for course corrections – and that’s important to me. This is my first attempt at this, and I don’t expect to be perfect right off the bat.

It’s an intimidating process, but at least in the search for an agent you’re only dealing with one variable: finding a good match.

But imagine if you were pitching directly to publishers! You’d be dealing with two variables at once: finding a match for your WIP, AND finding the best deal. In that scenario, the incentive to take a staged approach to submitting is almost reduced to zero.

On another topic, I’m thrilled to hear of the recent success of @HeleneBoudreau – a Canadian writer who sold two books through her US agent (@BostonBookGirl) this week alone. And I’m terribly psyched for another Saint John writer who is right now managing the response from her query wave #1. Yes, it’s edge-of-your-seat kind of stuff, but it’s just another leg in this journey that requires that we have faith in ourselves and our work. It’s not for the faint-hearted.

What are your query strategies?


6 thoughts on “Submission strategy

  1. Hi Katie!

    I popped over from twitter to cheer you on your agent search and smiled when I saw a mention in your post. Thanks so much!

    I did what you are planning to do, querying in waves, and am SO glad I did. I tried to keep about 12-15 queries in play at any given time, so whenever I got passes, I’d fire off a few more.

    Partway through the process, I received a revision request. Not just the ‘lube, oil and filter’ kind but the ‘major overhaul’ kind. It took a month of 10-hr days (butt-in-chair and 5lbs later–ack!) to get it done but once it was, I sent it off to the requesting agent with high hopes.

    It got rejected.

    BUT (after a few bags of BBQ Lays and an embarassing amount of diet coke)…I sent off a shiny new query with my shiny, newly-revised, manuscript and a week later (to much squeeing) got an offer from @bostonbookgirl.

    I’m convinced that my early draft would not have gotten an offer. The kernel of the idea was the same of course, but that requesting agent really showed me how to make my MS sparkle. Some people get all indignant, saying ‘why should I revise on spec’, but I say why not? If you agree with the suggestions, you’ve just been given free advice from an industry pro! What a gift!

    Good luck with your querying, Katie. I’ll be cheering from the sidelines!!


    • Thanks for the excellent note! I’m really looking forward to professional feedback. When it comes to turning around a new edit for a prospective agent, are timelines tight, or do they allow you to propose a delivery schedule?

  2. Another vote for the query in waves method. I queried 2-5 agents a week for a couple of weeks. It got to about (spreadsheet is at work) 14 queries sent. Of those, I got 8 Rs and two requests for fulls. One of the agents who requested a full has had just AMAZING feedback. Even if, ultimately, there isn’t an offer, I think I’m going to revise. I’ve actually stopped sending out new queries for the time being.

  3. I wasn’t given a timeline/deadline but I wanted to turn in my revision in a timely manner to make sure that the requesting agent’s interest wouldn’t wane in the meantime.

    Really, though, there’s no rush. You want to make sure you take the time to really think through your revisions and thoroughly complete the work . It helped that I had beta-readers ready to help me through the process.

    That said, I personally wouldn’t wait more than 3-5 months. But that’s just an opinion. YMMV.

    Fingers crossed for you!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s