I was told perhaps I should talk a bit about my querying process, since I’m going through it right now.
The majority of my querying has been done as the result of contests, but I do also own a copy of the 2013 Children’s Writer & Illustrator’s Market to hunt for agents. When I started to prep for the process, I went through the book and picked a handful of agents. I made up a spreadsheet where I added the agency name, agent I was planning on querying, their email address and website. I added cells for what they wanted in a query (how many pages, email or snail mail, etc.) and cells for when I sent the query and when I got a reply. Finally I added a space for comments.
I’ve used this spreadsheet for all the agents who requested pages from the Pitch Madness contest. I’ve found it really handy to have all my information in one place. I can check to see who I’m still waiting to hear back from and the comments lets me see if my rejections are saying the same kinds of things and perhaps it’s an issue for me to look into before sending the next round out.
Also very important is to check on the agency website and agentquery.com to make sure that agency is still accepting Young Adult submissions. Even though my Market book is from this year, I have already found several who are no longer looking for YA. I add them to my spreadsheet so I won’t accidentally query another agent from that agency. No point in wasting all our time, right?
Once I have my grouping of agents I’m going to query, I start making up my letters. The majority of it will be the same for each agent, but I always add in something about why I’m choosing that particular agent or agency whether they’ve published other authors who write similar books or that I admire, or if it’s because I follow the agent on Twitter and am responding to a call they put out, etc. It takes time, but it’s important to personalize the letters.
Before hitting the send button, I double check name spelling (both the agency and the agent!), make sure the part of my story that is included is copied into the body and that the formatting is correct. If they ask for an attachment (this typically only happens after they’ve gotten your query and ask for a partial or full) then I double check that I’ve given them the amount they asked for in the right version of Word or a PDF, etc.
I send them all out, mark my spreadsheet and sit back and wait…and wait….and wait. Of course I could be prepping more letters during that wait period, but normally I’m too busy working on other things.
That’s my basic process. Any questions? Is your process similar? Any hints on how to improve upon it?