Managing Agent Queries & Submissions

Managing the number of queries you send and the frequency with which you send them is one of the few things authors can control during the querying process.

But the question is then asked,

I know you send in batches, but what are your thoughts? 

Ideally, you’d wait and get some feedback in case you need to improve if you aren’t getting any hits. But with many agents “no response means no” and some taking months to respond to a query, this isn’t really viable (it would take years to query one manuscript!).

From Focus on What You Can Control

Batch Submissions

I would not actually recommend working in batches, or batches in the way you describe. There is no rule that says you need to hear back from an agent before you submit to a new one. I say send whenever you feel like sending.

As for feedback…how often have you actually received feedback on a query that might have changed the course of everything? I’d just keep querying.

Handling No Response Means No Agents

If you are submitting in batches what do you do about the agents who don’t respond as a rule? Give them a timeframe. Typically agents can respond to queries in 4-6 weeks (or should be able to). My suggestion is after 6 weeks you mark them as a “no.” Putting you in control once again of your list.

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5 comments

  1. I respectfully disagree. The feedback you get on a query is whether or not the submission WORKED. In other words, did you get a request for a partial or a full? If you’re not getting a decent percentage of requests, STOP QUERYING. Figure out the problem and fix it. Then try again.

  2. Thanks for your answer, Jessica. I guess by “feedback” I was meaning a run of “no thanks”. This tells you either the query or the pages aren’t working (depending what has been sent with the query). But it’s good to know that 6 weeks is reasonable.

    My takeaway is you have to be confident in what you are sending. If you are, then it won’t matter whether you’ve had any responses or not 🙂

    1. It could just be that the idea isn’t enough. It might be a great query and there is no guarantee the pages are being read. Unfortunately, a “no thanks” could mean a lot of different things.

  3. Large batches are not a good idea, especially for the first round because your query is untested and probably has any number of fatal flaws. If you’ve sent out 10-15-25 untested queries, you’ve burned too many “agent bridges” by the time you realize you need to revise. For my first project, I tentatively sent out four so I could gauge the responses. I also didn’t even include my top choice for this first batch because I wanted to be sure she saw my best and being new, didn’t even know what my best was yet. All rejections. I overhauled the query and began getting requests with the next small batch. Then I knew my query was in better shape so I sent out more in the subsequent batches. Now, I have an R&R with my top choice and I’m certain I only got this far because I didn’t send her my greenest rookie attempt.

  4. Thank you Jessica. I had just posed that question to my 12×12 group. You answered everything I had wondered. Thank you!

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