Saturday, September 18, 2010

The Tao of Querying

In the middle of compiling my agent list for my next round of submissions, Susan posted this lovely link to The Tao of Publishing. It made me rethink my querying strategy.

And then my computer crashed.

Unhappy experience in the past has taught me to triple back-up my writing every day, but I'd never lost a list of literary agents before. I only had one copy of my query spreadsheet.

I had to start over.

But this time, thanks to reading the Tao of Publishing, I no longer have this idea that I can pick out the very most perfect agent for me by combing through the deal lists on Publisher's Marketplace and studying agent websites and blogs. This time, I embrace the randomness of the universe.

That doesn't mean I'm querying randomly. I hate wasting people's time, so I carefully research each agent that catches my eye. If the agent says something like, "I don't like science fiction" or if the agent has sold only one MG manuscript in the past ten years, I quietly move on.

But I am casting my net wider this time. I began with Publisher's Marketplace, and looked at the top sellers in MG. From that list, I picked a batch of agents who might consider something post-apocalyptic. Then I went to the list of recent MG deals and found another batch of agents who had sold something dystopian or post-apocalyptic in the past year. And then I have my "little bird told me" agents, people who were personally recommended to me by fellow writers.

And instead of trying to predict who will be my perfect agent, which used to take hours of squinting at blog posts and on-line interviews, I say, "I won't know the answer unless I ask the question."

What's your querying strategy?


  1. Awesome! I'm glad you are embracing the randomness and I hope the karmic dividends roll in for you. :)

  2. Rebecca, I'm so sorry about your computer crashing! No matter how much you backed up, it still stinks. I like your new agent-hunting philosophy. It's smart and I'll bet you get snapped up in no time!

  3. Thanks for the vote of confidence! I'm nothing if not persistent.


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