Monday, June 27, 2011

Thoughts on Querying

Back in my days as a composition instructor at the University of Central Florida a friend showed me one of those e-mail forwards: You Know Your An English Major If . My favorite on the list was “You know your an English major if you deconstruct the menu at the Mexican restaurant.”

The process of researching agents and writing query letters made me think of that e-mail. I've developed a system. First I use an online site to generate an initial list of 100 or so agents interested in middle grade fiction. Then I start winnowing.

Remove the agents who aren't accepting queries. Remove those who only do YA (Young Adult). Remove those looking for Steam Punk. This usally leaves 60 agents. Then the research starts I pick out any that seem like a good match. 

Queries come next. I hate writing query letters for the same reason I am bad about thank you notes. Churning out formulaic pulp kills me. It feels so insincere. I'm getting over it a bit but I don't think I'll ever just be able to spam myself to the agents.

To write a query letter, I have to research the agent again, look at their agency, read interviews and get a clear picture of who I am addressing. This is where having an MA in Literature gets in the way.

I like seeing all these book loving people who build their careers around the written word. I get carried away reading articles and interviews. Maybe they fascinate me because most of my fellow English majors from Wofford became lawyers. These are neat people I'm looking at. No two people took the same path to being an agent. I wonder if I'll recognize a name some day as I generate list and lists. Who knows? It could happen.

Bottom line: I am enjoying this new and slightly esoteric process of querying in my own little nerd way. But it is time to stop deconstructing the menu, grab the yellow legal pad and go write.


Anita said...

I agree. It sounds like you need to give yourself a little head shake and a boost of caffeine. Maybe if you limited yourself to a certain number of minutes, you'd get over the analyzing and get the real work done??? Just a thought.

Kristen Gurri said...

That's a great point Anita. Ideally I would love to be regimented enough to set aside x amount of time for queries at the same time everyday. This would keep shutters on my wandering brain. But chasing squirrel children during summer vacation doesn't allow for that.

One habit I have fallen into is writing a letter or two in advance and letting them sit in my draft folder. I don't want to smear myself all over town and try to keep only five irons in the fire at a time. Its nice to open a rejection e-mail and simply fire off the next query without breaking stride.

Thanks for reading and commenting.