Jul 22, 2013

Is Querying like Kissing?

I have been working through Publisher's Marketplace and Querytracker lately, looking at what agents represent what I write. I have started a spreadsheet to keep track, been looking up agents of authors I love, getting the last tweaks done on my query and am about to start sending them out.

I remembered someone saying once that they ranked their agents - top third, middle third, bottom third. Then they would query some from each category with each batch of queries they sent out. I get the top and the middle - sometimes an agent has ended up in my middle category because I haven't found out enough about them, but from what I know, we could be a good match.

But I don't understand why someone would send a query to someone they put in their bottom third. First, it's rude to waste their time if you aren't really excited about them (went on a blind date once - the guy said FOUR words to me in the two hours we were out. Thankfully there was another couple...)

Really, each author is looking for something different in an agent and vice versa, but if there is someone that gets put on the list for whatever reason that you aren't excited about...? It's like kissing a sibling - yes, you get the kiss, but there really isn't anything exciting about it.

I tell my high school students all the time that while being attracted to a person shouldn't be the only reason to date them, there does have to be some kind of attraction. You want to close your eyes during a kiss because of choice, not to block out the face attached to the lips. I think the same idea should be applied to agent lists, but what makes an agent attractive is the way they represent themselves online, who they represent, their sales records, etc.

What do you think? Have you queried an agent that was in your bottom third? Any other query advice for me?

11 comments :

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

I never queried agents - I went straight for publishers. Started with the top and worked down to middle. That's where I found mine.

Jess said...

I went into it thinking that I needed to be happy with the possibility of getting every agent I sent a query to. So while there were some that rose about the rest, there weren't really middle or lower tiers. At a certain point, they all seemed kind of unattainable, so it was hard to justify being overly picky :)

ilima said...

So...what class do you teach in high school? :) The only reason I can think why someone would query the bottom third is to get feedback on the query/premise from a professional before sending it to who they really want. Which is rude, imo.

Elizabeth Seckman said...

I have a tiny list of agents I want, but so far, they don;t want me. And like you, I have no desire to kiss a single frog...I'd rather have no agent than the wrong agent.

Julie Luek said...

My experience with queries lies with magazines rather than agents, so this comparison may be off-base. I always have a few "ideal magazines" in mind that I think would be open to my article idea, but if they don't see the idea as a fit, I move on. It's not a ranking of who I think is best, but it is about selling my work and finding the best match, which may not always be who I initially imagine it would be.

J. A. Bennett said...

I only query the agents I want to work with, I'm into wasting time either, it just doesn't make sense!

JeffO said...

The thing is, 'bottom third' doesn't necessarily have to mean you think the agent is 'bad' (if you thought that, I agree, they shouldn't be on your list at all), it just means you're making a ranking.

There is an important question in all of this, though: how far down the list is too far? Maybe agent #70 isn't perceived to be as good as agent #1 (or agent #69, for that matter), but do you still feel like they'd do a good job repping you? If so, I guess you query away.

Jessie Humphries said...

It might be considered a "dirty tactic" to query agents you are not really interested in, but the reality is that getting an agent and getting published is so dismally difficult that resorting to dirty tactics might be the only way to get out of the slushy mudpile for some. Just sayin' I may or may not have some mud on me! ;)

Andrew Leon said...

My query advice is to not do it. Writing and publishing is not like dating; it's a business. But agents and publishers do actually expect us to treat it like dating and to jump through hoops and dress up the right way and all of that. It's ridiculous.

S.P. Bowers said...

Hmm, I've only kissed one person, but I've queried a lot of agents. Your right about wanting to make sure you get the right match. Maybe querying should be like dating. There are always a few dates that just don't go well.

Nicole said...

I've only queried the top and middle agents on my list.