Friday, May 11, 2012

Donna’s Journal

The Agent Hunt, Redux

Finaling in the 2012 RWA® Golden Heart® contest is no guarantee of publishing success. But it certainly opens a lot of previously closed doors, particularly when it comes to querying agents. Whispering (or in some cases, shouting) the words “Double Finalist” while knocking at the big oaken slab at the gates of Oz does sometimes make the little peephole way at the top slide open for a brief moment. And you don’t hear that standard answer, “No one sees the Great and Powerful Wizard of Oz, not no way, not no how!” nearly as often.

All of which is to say that my search for an agent, moribund for more than a year except for the occasional conference meeting or request from a contest, has been revitalized by my Golden Heart® nominations. I’m devising a new list of agents to query and planning to send out a new batch between now and July, when I pitch to yet another big name at the RWA National Conference in Anaheim. All because I get to say in that opening line: I thought perhaps you’d be interested in my science fiction/suspense romance novels Unchained Memory and Trouble in Mind. They both finaled in the Paranormal category of the 2012 RWA® Golden Heart® contest.

I’m hoping there are a few new agents out there that I might have missed in my first pass. A few may sit up and take notice that didn’t bother to reply before. I think I’ve refined my pitch, too, since the early days of querying and that will help. Still, the stories are what they are—if they appeal, I’ll get the response I want. If they don’t, the agents will give them a pass, Golden Heart® or no.

I do have some resources available to me now that I didn’t have the first time around. My fellow GH finalists are quite active, sharing information about agents on an online loop. That supplements the inside scoop I get from my own personal GH gurus here at Spacefreighters!

Recently the ladies on the loop were raving about something called QueryTracker, an online resource to help writers get information on agents and publishers and to track their own query lists ( Okay, you all know I’m a techno-Luddite, but, people, this is the best thing for writers since email submissions. All in one place, you have the information about the agents and their agencies (or the publishers), what they’re looking for, their submission requirements, their average query rate and response time (!), and loads of other valuable information. You can find an agent based on a number of search factors—genre, for example, or geographic region. But that’s not all.

You can set up a tracking system for your own agent search which will maintain the records of which agents you’ve queried and when, when they replied and what they asked for, when you sent them and what and what their response was, all in a neatly displayed format. You can program the system to remind you that Agent So-and-So should have responded to your query by now, so you can gently tweak her with an email. And, of course, QT will provide you with various reports of the number of queries, submissions, responses, etc. you’ve done or received.

You can set up a profile and interact with other aspiring writers in QT’s forum, exchanging information about your search and theirs. And there’s a blog with tips and help for the ongoing struggle that is our lot.

And the best part? I can’t decide. Is it because IT’S ALL FREE? Or because IT’S ACTUALLY EASY TO USE!!

You know me. I don’t take to these things easily. But QueryTracker was so easy to use I found myself wanting to play around with stuff. Even the demo video was clear and understandable. Wow! When was the last time you sat through one of those without falling asleep?

There is a premium membership option that involves some cost, but I’m not sure why you would need it. The freebie version provides me with a big enough playground, but perhaps others would need more.

Of course, the old reliable, a database of agents and agencies, is still available to help with your agent search. You can search by genre, but the information is laid out in somewhat haphazard fashion, so research can be a bit slow using the site. Click to search “romance” genre, for example, and the first files to come up are Kristin Nelson of the Nelson Literary Agency and Jenny Bent of the Bent Agency. Not exactly alphabetical, but at least the files’ details are there for you to see.

Up-to-date information on individual agents, once you’ve identified them, is best done by going to their websites/social media or through each agent’s Publishers Marketplace listing (this is also true of QueryTracker). You can reach these through the direct links provided in each agent’s file.

So, how is all this searching coming along? Well, I did get one answer back from the Great and Powerful Oz last week—a request for a partial (for both manuscripts) from a big-name agent that in my earlier go-round had been a complete pass. So, who knows? I’ll just keep knocking and saying the magic words and maybe one day the gates to the Emerald City will swing wide.

Meanwhile, WATCH THIS SPACE for a BIG ANNOUNCEMENT from one of my blog partners! Yeah, the hits just keep on coming around here!

Cheers, Donna


  1. Thanks for sharing your progress with this, Donna! I never get tired of hearing about other writers' query adventures. It is something we all can relate to. (Though I suppose that's not necessarily true anymore!)

    Fingers crossed, and keep us posted! I have a very good feeling.

  2. Oh, a request for a partial! Congrats on that! Yes, the GH does open doors. I had a request for a full last year from an agency that had previously said "No thanks" to the query for the same manuscript. We're calling it our GH magic sparks. (Last year it was GH magic stardust for the Starcatchers, but the 2012 class has yet to adopt an official name.)

    Anyhow, my fingers are crossed too and I'll be waiting to hear some GREAT news from you!

  3. I'd seen the Query Tracker talk on the loop but didn't know if I should go ahead and download it ... now I'm thinking I'd better get to it!! :)

  4. Good luck, Donna! Hope someone bites - in the nicest possible way of course!
    I've long given up querying agents. It sucked all the hope right out of me. But with these fabulous competition achievements - you're right - doors MUST open.

  5. The blog is so amazing and versatile, that I'm hereby awarding all four of you the Versatile blogger award! For details, see here:

  6. Thanks, y'all, for your encouragement! There are certainly some good vibes going on around here! Just check out our latest--the Versatile Blogger Award passed on by Pauline Baird Jones! Thanks, Pauline! I guess we'll all have to tell 7 things about ourselves, but we'll all contribute to the favorite blog list!


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Hosted by 5 Science Fiction Romance authors with 8 RWA Golden Heart finals and a RITA final between them. We aim to entertain with spirited commentary on the past, present, and future of SFR, hot topics, and our take on Science Fiction and SFR books, television, movies and culture.