In Part I of this series, we talked about prepping your query letter. In Part II, we discussed how to put together your own list of agents to query. In Part III, we organized the process. In this final fourth part, we’re going to chat results.
Are you still here? Bless your heart. So what came of all of the spreadsheets and emails? I started querying on November 14, 2018. Between November 14 and December 7, I queried 30 agents.
Of those 30 agents,
10 didn’t respond (rejection)
5 sent a form rejection
6 sent a personal rejection
9 requested the full
5 of those 9 offered representation
Of the 30 agents, I had one referral. (A professor kindly offered to reach out to the agent on my behalf.) The other 29 I cold queried—I had no connection to them whatsoever. If you are skeptical about the efficacy of the query process like I was, I’m here to tell you: for one writer, at least, it worked. Most of the agents got back to me, many of them timely. My first rejection came within hours of me sending the query! Everyone was professional and kind. Nobody told me to pick a new hobby.
I had read that it can take forever to hear back from agents, but that wasn’t my experience—maybe it was a desire to get inboxes cleared before the Christmas holiday. Anyway, here’s my data: I sent my first query on November 14. I received my first offer 24 days later on December 8. That same day, I emailed pending agents that I had an offer and gave them one week to get back to me. By December 13, I had the 5 offers. So the whole process took about one month.
Before I started querying, I compiled a list of questions to ask offering agents. Presumptuous? Perhaps. But I correctly presumed that were I to be in the bananas-fantasyland of having to choose between agents, I would be freaking out too much to come up with anything coherent to ask. I’m glad I had my questions prepared ahead of time. After receiving the offers of rep, I talked to all five agents, either in person or on the phone, and went through my list of questions. All five were delightful people. Three were fantastic matches.
In the end, my gut told me to go with Maddy. Her track record speaks for itself. She was passionate about the book. Her ability to sell blew me away—from her initial email requesting the full manuscript to our face-to-face meeting, I figured if she could pitch my book half as well as she pitched herself, I’d be in expert hands. I’m still pinching myself that I get to work with her.
Here was the timeline with Maddy specifically:
On December 5 I queried her.
On December 8 I sent a follow-up email letting her know I’d received an offer.
On December 8 she requested the full.
On December 13 she offered representation.
On December 20 I accepted her offer.
Two months later, on February 27, 2019, Maddy took my first novel out on submission. The rest, as they say, is history.