Querying: What I’m Doing Differently the Second Time Around

The things I’m doing differently the second time I’m querying.

I’m about to start another round of querying a new novel I’ve finished. I still have a few things to wrap up and work on before I start sending out queries and first pages, but I’m beginning to put together the different parts of a query package so that when the book is finally finished I’ll have everything ready to go.

If you’ve been following me for the last year, you know I made it a goal to get one hundred rejections. (I called it Project 100, and to be honest I’m only about 1/3 of the way through that.) That goal was for a completely different novel that I’ve since shelved. Maybe I’ll dust it off someday, or maybe that will forever be a “practice novel”. We all need many practice novels, so if that is it’s destiny, so be it.

I’ve been working on a completely different novel. This one is a YA contemporary romance, and I’m actually pretty happy with it.

One of the things I love about writing is the longer you do it, the more you can actually see your progress develop over time. Sure, it can sometimes feel like an infinite battle that you’re ultimately going to lose, but in the meantime, your writing gets better. I can see that I’m better than I was ten years ago, or even two years ago. And I like that. I think most of us like to see our progress over time.

All that’s to say, I can see that this novel is better than my previous one. Is it good enough to be picked up by a publisher? No idea. But at least I can see the growth in my writing.

As I begin to put together my querying package, first let me share what agents might typically ask for:

Query Letter

A short, one page letter that pitches your book, gets the agent intrigued, and introduces you as a writer.

First Pages

What it sounds like: the first pages of your book. It could be the first 5 or 10 pages, sometimes the first chapter, it just depends on what the agents wants to see.

One sentence summary/Logline

Some agents might ask for a logline: a sentence that tells what your book is about. Who is doing what and what is the main conflict?

Short Synopsis

Kept to a page, the short synopsis gives a summary of your book, while trying to peak the interest of the agent or reader.

Full Synopsis

The full synopsis is 2-3 page summary of your book with the ending (although some writers still leave it on a cliffhanger.) I’ll admit, writing the full synopsis is HARD. Not every agents wants one, but it best to have one prepared for those that do.

I had done all of that with my previous book. (Not well, I admit.) This time I’m doing things differently to try and improve and increase me chances of getting an agent to notice me.

Taking a course

Don’t laugh at me. I took Jessica Brody’s course on trying to get published traditionally and she walks you through every step of the process. I’m enrolled in her Writing Mastery Academy and that’s one of her courses. I’m not finished with it yet, but let me know if you’d like a review on her courses to see if they’d be right for you. You can check out her courses here if you’re interested.

Research agents thoroughly

I thought I had researched agents before. I was wrong. I’ve been a research junkie this time. I have a list filled with agents that I think would be a good, including comp titles they rep, and any books/author they admire that would be similar to my book. I have spent many hours just reading manuscript wishlists, submission guidelines AND (here’s the key) looking into the books they represent. Meaning, I have googled numerous titles, requested books from the library, and read my brains out. Which leads me to the next point:

Research the market thoroughly

I’m constantly researching other contemporary titles that would be like mine. In fact, when I started, I had no idea where to look or what to look for. Because while my book has lighthearted elements and a little humor, I don’t think its a rom-com. And while it deals with heavier issues, it’s not a gritty, issue-driven book. So I really had to search and read. Which I’ve been doing A LOT.

(Sorry, to tell you, but I don’t think you get to skip this step. You have to know where your book is going to sit in the market. )

Written multiple drafts of a query

I think I’m up to 4 drafts now, and I still don’t have a final draft of the letter yet. I want this letter to be the absolute best I can make it. No short cuts, no phoning it in. I actually think I might polish two different queries and submit them and see which gets mores responses, and whichever one seems more successful is the one I’m going to submit for the rest.

I’m still several week outs from sending my first query for this book, but I’m getting all of this done now so that when I’m ready to query, I have all of my ducks in a row.

I’d love to hear if you’re querying right now! What does you plan look like?

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