Friday, June 29, 2012

Take Two: The Quarter in the Toilet

I'm away from home and not finding a lot of time to blog, so I thought I'd throw an older post up here that didn't get a lot of (read: any) pageviews the first time around. I originally published this in December of 2009, back when I had, like, two followers and was querying the project I queried BEFORE I queried Bob. That certainly puts things in perspective:) Anyway, hope you enjoy!

My husband teaches religion classes to high school students for a living. So he's always coming up with object lessons to teach different principles. One of my particular favorites is called "The Quarter in the Toilet." It involves herding the entire class into the bathroom and holding up a quarter. He asks them how much a quarter is worth and someone says, "Twenty-five cents." Then he asks them what its value is and someone says, a little slower this time, as if he's aged fifty years in a single moment, "Twenty-five cents." Then he chucks the quarter into the toilet and asks, "And what's its value now?"

Except for some enterprising freshman, most of his kids aren't willing to go in after it; to everyone but that freshman, the quarter actually has negative value now. Still, a quarter is a quarter is a quarter, in the hand or in the bowl. Whether they value it or not, that quarter is still worth twenty-five cents.

As a writer, I sure feel like a quarter in the toilet sometimes--especially when I'm querying. I often only feel as good as my last response, so when a rejection rolls in, my confidence dips. And when the rejections pile up, my confidence plummets.

But the truth is, my worth as a writer has nothing to do with how everyone else values my writing. My worth as a writer is defined by certain inherent characteristics--my talent, my passion, my desire--and those things never change.

It reminds me of Max Lucado's beautiful picture book YOU ARE SPECIAL. His main character, the much maligned Punchinello, only receives ugly gray dots from his fellow wooden puppets, and in a society built around public praise or scorn, those gray dots might as well be the plague. But then Punchinello meets Lucia, another wooden puppet who bears neither the stars nor the dots of her fellow townspeople. Punchinello asks her why her stickers don't stick, and she tells him: Because she cares more about what the woodcarver thinks than what the other puppets think. Because she knows her worth as a wooden puppet is intrinsic. It has nothing to do with how much the other puppets reject, or adore, her.

Now, obviously, constructive criticism is, well, constructive; I'm in no way suggesting that we don't consider and try to incorporate the feedback we receive. And it's pretty much impossible not to feel that tiny thrill when a request or, gasp, an offer of representation comes. But in the end, those things do not define us. In the end, we are worthwhile writers simply because we are.

Do I always think this way? Sadly, no. There are minutes and hours and days and weeks when I feel about as valuable as a quarter in the toilet. So this post is just as much for me as it is for you. I plan to look back at it whenever I'm feeling low. Because even when I don't believe it, I know it's true.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Winners of Carrie Harris's BAD TASTE IN BOYS! generated our three random winners, and here they are:

Melodie Wright
Sarah Ahiers
Leiann Bynum

Congratulations, ladies! Please e-mail me at kvandolzer(at)gmail(dot)com with your mailing addresses, and I'll get those paperbacks to you as soon as possible. I hope you enjoy BAD TASTE IN BOYS as much as I did.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

The Beta Reader Browse

I started blogging to connect with other writers and specifically to find a few good beta readers, and boy, did I ever. I met Myrna, LieslJeni, and Kayeleen through this blog and theirs, Ben through a blog contest, and Amy and Kelly through a blog post much like this one on Kiersten Writes. Since it worked so well for me, I thought I'd pay it forward.

If you're looking for a beta reader/critique partner, leave a comment on this post with the following information:

1. The genre of your manuscript
2. A few sentences about it
3. What you're looking for in a beta reader/critique partner (e.g., a conceptual critique of your full manuscript, a line edit of your first three chapters, or whatever)
4. Your e-mail address

So leave a listing, browse the others, and find a new CP or four. It's been two years since I met Amy and Kelly through that blog post, and we're still good friends and beta readers. I hope the same happens for you.

Friday, June 15, 2012

Triplet Talk with Kate Schafer Testerman and Her Three Newest Clients

Welcome to Part III of "Triplet Talk," a continued conversation with the shoe-tastic Kate Schafer Testerman and her three newest clients, Elizabeth Briggs, Susan Adrian, and me! If you missed the first two parts, definitely go back and check those out:

Part I, hosted by Kate Schafer Testerman
Part II, hosted by Elizabeth Briggs

Now we turn the tables, and Kate asks us a couple of questions. We talk querying, submission guidelines, and location, location, location!

Kate: So I want to ask you all something, if I can. I don't want to toot my own horn, but I get so many questions from people (mostly in NYC) about how it is to work from Colorado that I'm curious how you feel about it. And also, I guess, as part of that question, what made you query me?

Susan: The agents I queried were based all over the U.S.--I didn't see it as anything to even consider. With internet and cell phones and NY trips, it didn't matter to me.

But I queried you because I'd followed you on Twitter for a while, and loved your style...and when I looked at your client list I either had read or wanted to read all their books. GOOD sign.

Krista: Yeah, location was never even a consideration. Two of the best boutique agencies in the country are based in the Denver area, in my opinion.

Liz: I'd already read quite a few of your clients' books and liked you on Twitter and your blog. When I got the partial request I said to my coworker "omg I got a request from my dream agent!"

I think you go to NY enough that it doesn't matter. Plus e-mail and all that.

Susan: Plus it was a bonus that you're in my time zone!

Krista: Yep, like Liz and Susan said, it was your client list that really sold me. Of all the agents I followed closely, yours was the only list that I could genuinely say I loved.

Susan: I remember being so excited when you asked for the full that you'd get the bit with Buffy in it...because I'd followed all your Buffy rewatch tweets.

Liz: Haha.

Kate: Heh.

Susan: And I'm working my way through the kt lit books now, and I was so right! LOVE.

Liz: When I was querying I did meet one person at a conference (also querying) who said you HAD to get an agent in NY, but I don't think that is true anymore.

Susan: Pfft person who doesn't know.

Kate: Exactly. I think anyone who still believes that is too old-fashioned to do well.

Liz: Plus you used to work in NY, right?

Kate: Yeah, I had the whole Park Avenue office and everything for years. Although, OK, funny story:

When I first met my husband online, it was partly because of his writing. And I asked to read his novel before I ever met him in person. I thought I was so cool, with the Park Avenue address, and the big fancy agency I worked for--but Doyce looked us up online and couldn't find ANYTHING. So he was like "well, they may be on a bad bit of Park Avenue, but it's worth a shot!"

And that kind of thinking? Was exactly why the very first thing I did in starting kt literary was build a fantastic web site.

Susan: It's SO critical. For editors too, I'd think! But especially for selling to the writers to query you.

Liz: Yeah, I hate it when agencies don't have good websites.

Kate: Well, less so for editors, who have big houses with well-known names to support them. But for agents, definitely.

Susan: I wouldn't query if they didn't have a decent website or didn't seem to WANT queries.

Krista: Me, neither, Susan.

Susan: Oh, I just meant for editors looking YOU up. As an agent.

Krista: And Kate, I love the story of how you and your husband met. I know I've heard it before, and I think it's sweet and nerdy and perfect.

Susan: It is!

Liz: Video game nerds ftw.

Kate: So let me ask you this--I'm currently closed to queries for the summer. But I've gotten so many great authors through the query pile, I don't think I could ever go cold turkey. Having recently gone through the whole querying process, what do you think about agents who close for vacation and stuff?

Liz: I think as long as they tell people in advance it is fine.

Susan: Agree with Liz. As a client, I appreciate that you (agents) take a break to focus on the work you have and catch up. As a querier I'd understand that you just have to time it right.

Krista: I'd MUCH rather have an agent close than watch them build up an enormous stack of queries that I know they’ll never respond to.

Kate: Oh phew! I do worry. Especially when I know I'm deleting things unread, because some authors are using outdated information on my submissions policy, or just not checking with my site directly.

Susan: I think it's also good to take a break from it and come in fresh. It MUST be draining, having them stream in constantly.

Liz: If writers can't spend five minutes Googling an agent, then I don't think it's a problem to delete them.

Susan: Also THAT.

Krista: I always rechecked an agent's submission guidelines right before I hit the send button, even if I'd just checked them the day before.

Susan: Me too. I really think you have to approach querying with absolute professionalism, like applying for a job.

Kate: So how do you guys find the submissions process, and what are you doing to keep busy while you wait?

Krista: Working on my next project, of course! I just finished the first draft!

Kate: Hooray!

Liz: Freaking MG writers.

Kate: *laughs*

Krista: *blows raspberry at Liz*

Liz: *shakes fist*

Krista: I think this is the part where we pull out our white gloves and smack each other in the face...

Susan: Working on sequel!! And I'm at the same word count as Krista, and 56% through the draft. Just want to say.

Liz: Writing a new book. Trying not to go crazy. I'm behind Krista and Susan, so I need to catch up.

Susan: Liz, you're going to have to catch up, since I can't word-war with Krista anymore!

Kate: I have to say, I love seeing you guys write together, or at the same time. Word wars and morning writing and writing sprints--it's awesome.

Susan: It's really fun. Helps to keep momentum up. We also e-mail each other during this phase quite a bit. Or Liz gchats me. :)

Liz: I need to start morning writing with you guys! But you wake up before me.

Krista: I don't write in the mornings. I write during naps and after bedtime. (Sleeping is my kids' superpower, but they do wake up early.)

Susan: I write lunches during the week every day, and morning writing on weekends. Too early for you, Liz!

Liz: Yeah, it is nice to have other people going through the same thing as you, to talk to.

Krista: I totally agree. It's wonderful to have someone to e-mail in a panic:)

Kate: DFO, indeed.

Liz: Haha.

Susan: DFO!

DFO, in case you're wondering, stands for "Don't freak out!" which is what we yell at each other when we're--you guessed it--freaking out:)

For the thrilling conclusion, head over to Susan Adrian's for Part IV of our four-way chat, in which we share some final thoughts and dish on guns and puppies...

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Giveaway! Carrie Harris's BAD TASTE IN BOYS

Update: The contest is now closed. Thanks to everyone who entered!

To thank Team Krista’s celebrity guest coaches, I’m giving away three copies of the paperback edition of Carrie Harris’s BAD TASTE IN BOYS, which came out just yesterday! (I’d give away copies of Alexandra Duncan’s and Liesl Shurtliff’s books, too, but they haven’t been released yet. Come back in another year or so!)

Here's what I thought of BAD TASTE IN BOYS when I first read it last fall:

"The thing I liked best about BAD TASTE IN BOYS was that it didn’t take itself too seriously. Sure, aspiring medical researcher Kate Grable is dealing with a zombie plague, but does she let that rob her of her sparkling wit and personality? Of course she doesn’t:)

"The other thing I really liked was how real Kate seemed. She cared about important things, like school and grades (and keeping all her classmates from turning into zombies), but she also cared about what the senior quarterback thought of her. She was neither too fluffy nor too serious. I’d read another book about her in a heartbeat (no pun intended)."

To enter*, all you have to do is tell me in the comments what you would do if a zombie plague took over your school/workplace/community. If you’d like an extra entry, you’re welcome to help me spread the word via your blog, Twitter, or Facebook (or Goodreads, I suppose, if they do that kind of thing over there). Just leave a link to your blog post, tweet, or status update in the comments, too.

The contest closes in two weeks, at 11:59 p.m. PDT on Tuesday, June 26. I’ll pick three random winners the next day, Wednesday, June 27, so make sure to come back then.

Good luck, and thanks again, Carrie, Alexandra, and Liesl, for all your help and hard work!

*It occurred to me that I should mention this giveaway is only open to U.S. residents (or rather, anyone with a U.S. mailing address). I'm afraid I don't have the funds or the know-how to ship internationally...

Monday, June 11, 2012

Why You Should Enter Blog Contests

I used to think that blog contests were superfluous. A diverting way to break up the monotony of an agent hunt, but superfluous, nevertheless. Good queries sell themselves, I thought. Good stories don’t need gimmicks.

But somewhere along the way, I changed my mind. It might have had something to do with the fact that I started hosting a regular blog contest (“An Agent’s Inbox” is taking a few months off, by the way, since I need a little time to recuperate from “The Writer’s Voice,” but it’ll make a comeback in August, and I already have September’s and October’s rounds scheduled, too), or maybe it was because I started to notice all of the contest-generated success stories that kept cropping up. Anyway, I changed my mind, and here are a few reasons why:

1. Blog contests are a great way to connect with people. I’ve had several people tell me that they met a new critique partner through “An Agent’s Inbox,” and I’m pretty sure “The Writer’s Voice” and the ensuing Twitter pitch party are singlehandedly responsible for launching several new critique groups the size of small European countries. So play along and look for like-minded writers whose comments/tweets you find insightful.

2. Blog contests are also a great way to get clear, unbiased feedback. Every writer needs critique partners, other writers who love you and your writing and want to help you make it shine, but sometimes, your critique partners are too close to the story to give you clear, unbiased feedback on your query and first few pages. Critique-based contests like the ones hosted by Authoress of Miss Snark’s First Victim are great ways to figure out how to put those finishing touches on your writing.

3. Agents usually pay more attention to contest entries. I may be going out on a limb here, but I really do believe that agents give contest entries a closer read. They have a finite number of entries to get through, so the task seems less overwhelming than, say, tackling the query inbox, which never ends and usually doesn’t even take a day off.

Case in point: I know of at least one writer who received a form rejection from an agent one day, then a full request from the same agent six weeks later via a contest. The query had only minor changes, and the first page was exactly the same, so either the market changed dramatically in a matter of weeks or the agent paid more attention to those contest entries than she had to her queries. (That full request turned into an offer, too, which made me wonder how many manuscripts agents inadvertently pass up that, if they’d taken a slightly closer look, they would have fallen in love with.)

4. In multi-agent contests, a feeding frenzy often ensues. I have even less hard evidence for this one, but in my gut, I think it’s true. I’ve never actually participated in one of Authoress’s Baker’s Dozen Agent Auctions, but I’ve watched both of them from the sidelines, and they’re pretty fierce. In a nutshell, the agents review a bunch of loglines and first pages, then bid against each other to win partial and full requests. The agents have a lot less information to go on when they’re placing their bids (since agents usually ask to see a query and the first five to ten pages), and yet they seem to bid on far more manuscripts than you might expect them to out of a random batch of queries.

Now Authoress does screen the entries, so the projects that make it into the auction are (probably) going to be of a much higher quality than the average slush. Still, I don’t think that accounts for all of the variation. There’s just something exciting about bidding, fighting, winning, and it’s easy to get caught up in that.

So go and compete (and hopefully win)! With all the contests around the blogosphere, you shouldn’t have a problem finding one to dip your toe into. In fact, if you know of any blogs that host regular agent-judged contests, feel free to recommend them in the comments!

Friday, June 8, 2012

And You Thought I Was the Only Writer in the Family...

A little homegrown entertainment to carry you into the weekend. Honey Bear’s been writing movie reviews for his younger brother, who’s been on a mission for the last two years and unable to see any of the new releases. This one’s our favorite (review*, that is). It’s for the 2010 release of Eclipse:

The Twilight Saga: Eclipse (2010) * (All those moody people from the previous films)

Bella: My life is so horrible.

Jacob: My life is worse.

Edward: I’m not even alive, but you guys have no idea how tortured I am. Why won’t you marry me, Bella?

Bella: Because I have an irrational aversion to the institution of marriage. Besides, we need two more films, so we’re going to have to drag this out. And because I’m chronically depressed, even though I have everything I ever wanted in the previous films.

Jacob: Speaking of dragging things out, how is it that this film is already an hour long and all we’ve done is have one conversation?

Edward: I hate your face. You make me want to throw up every time I see you.

Jacob: I hope you die. Ah! My life is so awful!

*Thirty minutes of back story on vampires or werewolves we didn’t need to know*

Some vampire we’re supposed to know: Oh, no! An army of, like, seven vampires is coming to kill Bella.

Honey Bear: Woohoo!

Edward and Jacob: I’m not going to let that happen. I’ll die for you, Bella. Wait, you can’t die for her, I’m going to die first. No, me!

Honey Bear: Why do you guys even like that whiny baby?

Edward: Because it’s in the script.

*Thirty minutes of back story on vampires or werewolves we didn’t need to know*

Bella: Oh, no! Here’s the army.

Jacob: Why do we keep calling them an army? There’s, like, more of us than them.

Edward: Shh. This is supposed to be intense.

*Thirty minutes of back story on vampires or werewolves we didn’t need to know*

Edward: Wow, that was a really anticlimactic time to have a long and pointless flashback.

Director: Shut up and glower, spider monkey!

Edward: Oh, my life is so awful…

Director: That’s better.

*Two minutes of fighting that the entire film has been building up to*

Edward: Well, that was easy. Even though they were supposed to be way stronger than us, we totally trashed them and nobody important even got hurt.

Jacob: Ow! I think I’ve shattered half the bones in my spectacularly chiseled body.

Bella: Jake, I love you, but I love Edward more.

Jacob: Wow, that’s a weird thing to say to someone right after they get crushed for you.

Bella: You’ll get over it because of your inexplicable love for me.

Edward: Let’s get back to our horrible lives.

Bella: Wow, I can’t believe a story that’s as anemic as I am can be stretched into a twelve-hour film.

(PG-13 for a horrifying absence of anything like comic relief and a make-out scene that is really long and uncomfortable)

Told you I wasn’t the only writer in the family:)

*This is the only review Honey Bear wrote like a script, but maybe he should have written all of them this way, since this one turned out so well…

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Agent-Author Chat: Victoria Marini and Karen Akins

Well, look what we have here--another fun installment of “Agent-Author Chat”! With so many writers landing agents and signing book deals, I have a lot of fodder for the series:) Today’s interview features Victoria Marini of Gelfman Schneider Literary Agents, Inc. and one of her newest clients, Karen Akins, whose YA sci-fi LOOP just sold to St. Martin’s!

Since Ms. Akins signed with Ms. Marini through a slightly less-than-normal route, I’m not going to post her query at the top of the interview. However, she did enter a round of “An Agent’s Inbox” last fall, so if you’d like to find out more about her novel, feel free to check out her entry.

As usual, Ms. Akins’s answers will appear in orange and Ms. Marini’s in blue.

KV: Ms. Akins, how did you first come up with the idea for LOOP?

KA: Sigh. It came from a dream. Hubbykins was playing some Death Action Call of War Something video game with all sorts of futuristic weapons and grappling hooks. That night, I had a vivid, action-packed dream with a romantic plot twist. (I actually remember gasping in my dream. lol) I woke up and refused to get out of bed until I'd scribbled a page of notes. The story ended up being nothing like my dream, but the plot twist remains.

This is the blurb from PM:

“Karen Akins's LOOP, in which a time traveler accidentally brings a boy from the past into the 23rd century, only to discover he's already in love with her future self and is keeping his own set of secrets, pitched as HEIST SOCIETY meets BACK TO THE FUTURE, to Terra Layton at St. Martin's, in a two-book deal, by Victoria Marini at Gelfman Schneider (world).”

KV: Tell us a little bit about your querying experience. How many queries did you send? Did you send them in batches or all at once? Did you ever pull back and revise your query and/or your manuscript, and if so, why did you decide to do that?

KA: My experience would fall in the "do as I say, not as I did" category. I queried too soon--all no's--but thankfully, it was a small batch. Victoria was one of those no's, and I still have the e-mail I sent to Hubbykins after I received her rejection, whining that I'd blown it with some great agents. I held off on querying further until after I went to an upcoming workshop where I received some great editorial feedback. After the workshop, I rewrote the story and when I queried at that point, I sent it out to 20 agents (and also had quite a few unsolicited requests from online sources.)

I stuck with querying in small batches. My goal was to have eight to ten active queries at any given point. And, actually, I rewrote my query yet again after the first batch because it still wasn't as clear as it needed to be. So the first ten queries, I didn't get any requests. After I rewrote it (with a lot of help from Elana Johnson's e-book From The Query To The Call), I had a 50% request rate, and those requests resulted in a R&R and two of my agent offers.

KV: How did Ms. Marini come to request your manuscript?

KA: She bid on it in the Baker's Dozen Auction. She didn't win it, but afterwards, she asked for the full.

KV: Ms. Marini, when you saw Ms. Akins's entry in the Baker’s Dozen Agent Auction, what caught your attention?

VM: LOOP quite literally hit the ground running. It got started straight away and introduced just enough questions that I needed to keep reading, but I never felt confused about the world, the action, or the character motivation. It was the perfect balance of intrigue and understanding. Additionally, it struck me as humorous.

KV: Obviously, the manuscript met--or exceeded--your expectations. What did you love about LOOP?

VM: Definitely the “voice.” I’m sure you’ve heard agents and editors talk about voice, and the impossible-to-pin-down qualities that make a voice successful. LOOP had that je ne sais quoi that struck me as special.  I also loved the irreverence and its sense of humor; a refreshing take on YA sci-fi.

KV: How quickly did you read Ms. Akins’s manuscript? Is that pretty typical of your response times on requested material, or do those vary?

VM: I can’t quite recall, but I think it was about three weeks. I read and responded to LOOP faster than I usually do because it had other offers of representation so Karen needed to make a decision by a certain date. It was exciting!

My response times vary depending on general work load, the number of manuscripts, the types of manuscripts, etc. I like to say it takes me about a month or so, but I suspect six weeks is a more accurate average, especially lately.

KV: Ms. Akins, now that you’ve reached the querying finish line, what do you wish you had known when you were back at the start gate?

KA: That the finish line is another start gate. Oh, and I'd go back and slap myself every time I had the thought, "Once I have an agent, I'll never have to write a query letter ever again!" So not true. I'm working on a new story, and while I was on sub, several of the editors wanted to hear more about it. The only difference was I had an afternoon to write and polish what amounted to a query letter rather than weeks. But I actually like this "query" even more than LOOP's.

KV: Ms. Marini, what querying tips do you have?

VM: The same tips I think any agent has: do your research. Don’t query a book that isn’t ready. Don’t spend your query telling me about the market, yourself, etc… Just tell me about your book.

KV: Any last words of advice or encouragement you’d like to share with us?

VM: Make an effort to stay positive, truly! Rejection is a part of this business (it’s most of this business for an aspiring author). You may see other people succeed where you believe you have failed; you may wonder whether you’re good enough. You’ll become discouraged. Practice resilience, patience, and generosity of spirit. Practice being happy for others. Keep going. And going.

KA: (Do you see why I love my agent?)

Okay, words of advice: Acquire critique partners whose feedback you have to take a deep, strengthening breath before reading. It's great to have some cheer-readers who love, love, love all your characters and draw kissy hearts all over your manuscript because, yes, they're encouraging. And the stuff they pick out that needs improvement probably *really* needs improvement. But they won't get you an agent.

And words of encouragement: Celebrate every victory along the way. Preferably with chocolate.

Thanks, Ms. Akins and Ms. Marini, for answering my questions. (I, too, loved Ms. Marini's advice, especially the part about practicing being happy for others. You'd be surprised how far a little of that practice will go...) And congratulations on the sale! Can't wait to get my hands on a copy of LOOP!

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

How to Word Those Pesky Follow-up E-mails

Several people around forums like Absolute Write and QueryTracker have been asking recently how to word those pesky follow-up e-mails you sometimes have to send to agents, and since I’ve had plenty of experience with those, I thought I’d throw this post out there. Keep in mind that these are only my suggestions and that I certainly don’t think there’s only one right way to word these. My hope is that these templates will help other writers come up with something of their own.

To those of you who think that nudging is a bad idea, I admit that I used to think the same, but somewhere along the way, I changed my mind. As long as you use them sparingly, follow-up e-mails can actually demonstrate that you’re a smart, savvy writer who plans to make a career out of this.

But first, here’s a quick example of the note I would include with requested partials or fulls, since you always have to send one of those:

Dear [agent’s name],

Woohoo! [TITLE] attached! [Personalized agent tidbit, if you have one]

I look forward to hearing back from you.


[signature block, including my phone number; my street, e-mail, and blog addresses; and my Twitter handle]

I used the agent’s first name if she’d used my first name when requesting the manuscript. Also, if the agent requested a partial instead of a full, I said, “First fifty pages [or whatever] of [TITLE] attached!” Lastly, notice that I included pretty much every piece of contact information imaginable in my signature block. You want to make it REALLY EASY for the agent to get in touch with you, especially if the news is good:)

Oh, and I’m sure you guessed that the “Woohoo!” isn’t required:) That was just my way of celebrating every request.

Follow-up on a requested partial or full (no offer)

Dear [agent’s name],

Just dropping in to check on the status of my manuscript, [TITLE], which I sent on [date]. I know you’re crazy busy, so if it’s still in your to-read pile, great. But if it did go astray, I’d be happy to resend it.

Thanks again for your time and consideration.


[signature block]

If the date you sent the manuscript varies greatly from the date the agent requested it, you might want to mention both. Other than that, the only commentary I have on this one is that you want to keep it simple and straightforward. Say what you have to say and leave it at that.

Follow-up on a requested partial or full (with offer)

Dear [agent’s name],

Just wanted to let you know that I received an offer of representation for [TITLE] and that I told the offering agent I'd get back to [him/her] by [date]. If you're still interested in the manuscript, feel free to get in touch!


[signature block]

I also sent this e-mail to all the agents who had outstanding queries. I simply omitted the word “still” in the last sentence, since they hadn’t expressed interest in the manuscript before.

Follow-up on a query (no offer)

Dear [agent’s name],

I sent a query on [date] for [TITLE] but haven’t yet heard back from you. Since you typically respond to all queries, I just wanted to check in and make sure you received it.

If you're still considering it, great. But if it did go astray, I've included another copy of the query below.

Thanks again for your time and consideration.


[signature block]

[another copy of the query]

For the most part, I don’t recommend following up on queries, but since I’ve broken that rule a few times myself, I thought I ought to own up to it:) As the note above implies, I only followed up when I was certain that the agent usually responded to every query. (In fact, some agents encourage you to query them again if you don’t hear back within a certain timeframe, and when I do, I always reference the earlier query, just in case they’re still considering it.) I also only followed up if I was reasonably certain that they’d never received it in the first place (although you can never know for sure).

Follow-up on a query (with offer)

See “Follow-up on a requested partial or full (with offer)” above.

Well, I think that about covers it. Do you have any other tips or tricks for managing your agent hunt?