Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Querying: I Walk the Line

I follow a number of literary agents on Twitter. I enjoy the funny (and sometimes biting) #querytip and #pubtip tweets that say charming things like "Don't come to my office and demand to see me!" or "Do NOT mail your query and first chapter to my home address!". It's insane how many writers a) query before they're ready; b) have no sense of standard timelines; c) refuse to read query guidelines; or d) resort to measures that are stalkerish in nature.

Querying is a tough gig, and when I first began I fell into category A - querying before I was ready. I learned very quickly that my MS and my query letter were not fit for public consumption. I took a step back, went through more revisions, and sent my query to anyone I knew who would read it. But I can proudly say I never stalked an agent (at least I didn't think so).

My process for selecting the agents I wanted to query looked like this:
  1. Go to querytracker and screen agents who rep my genre.
  2. View agent profiles.
  3. Visit agent websites, blogs, and twitter accounts to get a feel for how they operate as an agent and to verify they are accepting queries and looking for the kind of story I wrote.
  4. If I liked what I saw, I then ran a google search for interviews they'd done to learn more about them.
This is where I stopped. I found that this was all it took for me to make a decision one way or the other. And though I felt that my thorough research process was necessary, it still seemed a little creepy. Is there a distinct line in researching potential agents that moves past comprehensive into invasive?

I think there is such a line, but where it lies on the spectrum is different for each person. Generally, I feel that people have a right to privacy. If someone writes a guest blog post or gives an interview, that's the kind of thing they want found and want read. I don't think they want some random stranger searching through images to try and glean some personal fact that can be woven into a query.

Maybe it is a tough line to walk. I want to come across as someone thoughtful who isn't just query bombing, but I don't want to seem like I've spent a little too much time on my research. Hopefully, my future agent will find my attention to detail endearing instead of weird.

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