I swore I wasn’t going to blog about the querying process, because I firmly believe in that whole “fake it ’til you make it” idea, so I didn’t want to document in detail my many little disappointments on the road to success. (Let’s ignore the fact that that’s kind of what this whole blog is…)
But, I think this one is just too good to not share. It’s a little convoluted, so bear with me.
When I started the blog I set up an “alias” e-mail so that all blog traffic was directed to an alternate e-mail address. It still hit my in box, but anyone who saw that e-mail would see the mhleewriter address and not my main e-mail address.
I was overseas at the time and would check my e-mail on my phone fairly regularly. And I quickly realized that the blog e-mails were going to make me hit my data limit, so I created a rule to direct all e-mails to the mhleewriter address into a sub-folder. Which means that, now, I don’t see e-mails to that address unless I’m logged into the account on a computer.
When I started querying I used that same e-mail address for my queries. Not exactly a smart thing to do, at least for my sanity. Because now, when I see that I have a new e-mail in my writing folder I don’t know whether it’s related to the blog, one of the writing related newsletters I subscribe to (like Publishers Lunch), or related to a query. So, every single time I have a new message in that folder, I get that little hopeful feeling that it’s a positive response to a query.
(Even though I know that chances are it’s not even related to a query, let alone a positive response.)
So, that was bad enough. But I sent out some queries last week that just flipped it into overdrive. First, I sent one with the mhleewriter e-mail address. Then, I sent one and forgot to use the mhleewriter address so it was from my main account. And then, finally, I had to send one from my yahoo account, because one of the agents stated that their spam folders tend to eat e-mails from hotmail.
Which means that, since last week, I have had THREE separate e-mail accounts that could receive a query response. THREE. That is crazy making. Every time I check my main account on my phone and it says I have a new e-mail I think, “Maybe…” And every time I see a new e-mail in the writing folder, I think, “Maybe…” And now I also have to remember to check that yahoo account.
Don’t do this to yourself. Trust me. Querying is insane enough. You do not need to have three separate locations where you can get query responses.
By the way. A great resource to use when querying: querytracker.net The basic version is free and it lets you list the agents you’ve queried or want to query and see their response rates.
(That way when you get rejected you can think, “Well, that agent only asks for partials from 5% of all queriers, so maybe I was in the top 10%…” It’s still rejection, but it feels better. And it let me do some fancy rejectomancy on one agent and decide that I must have made his initial cut because I wasn’t rejected same day, but only when he did his monthly reassess and reject/request partials. Rejection is still rejection, but still. It’s nice to be able to think, “Well, hey, that person rejected me but they don’t even bother rejecting most people. So, see, there’s hope.”)
For a little bit of money you can do more on querytracker. (I was going to sign up for that, but paypal hates me and won’t let me record a credit card with them. And it wasn’t worth the effort to make it happen.)
I would probably advise against using it for finding agents to query. Or at least against using it isolation. I saw one agent name on there that looked interesting, but when I went and did more research realized that agent was not a good choice. So, be aware that it may list agents that are in that gray area that you really don’t want to venture into.
Find agents that represent authors you like or work for agencies that represent authors you like. Check them on Absolute Write. Check them on Preditors & Editors. Google them. (There’s one agent on my do not touch list for something they did earlier this year on Twitter.) It’s a lot of work, but the agent relationship may be the most important relationship you form as a writer.
Anyway. End of random lecture.