Querying is such a game of strategy. And timing is a major factor in so many ways. Here are a few I’ve been thinking about lately.
Catching the agent at the right time. Although I don’t have the link handy, I once read an interview with an agent who listed 10 reasons she might reject a query, and the last one was that sometimes a query is great and intriguing, but she just isn’t in the mood for it right then. What a killer–the idea that the same agent might have been interested the month before or a couple of months later. I’ve seen stories of people being rejected by an agent and then later signed by that same agent with the same manuscript.
Personally, I’ve had two requests from agents who previously passed. In the first case, the agent had passed over short pitches in contests but requested from a query. In the second case, the agent overlooked my query in one contest and requested in another contest four months later. Was the agent not in the mood for my concept the first time? Or was it because I’d revised both my query and first page since the previous contest? I don’t know for sure, but what I get out of this is you should still query an agent even if they don’t make a request from a contest. And don’t skip a contest with multiple agents because one of them rejected your query. I would say, though, that if the contest includes only that agent, you might be wasting your time.
Knowing when to query, when to wait, and when to revise. I’ve struggled with all three of these. I queried too much, too fast with CAVEBOY. I’ve been much more cautious with DUET, even deciding not to query for two months while I waited for feedback from submissions. I started querying again, only to finally get some feedback that resulted in a revision. I don’t know if my timing was right in each of these instances, but I do know that waiting gave me the time I needed for that feedback to click and to make the changes the MS needed. I’m not sure anyone can lay out the perfect timing here. If you know the secret, please pass it along!
When is it time to stop querying? This might be the hardest question of all, and perhaps I should rephrase it as “finish” querying. I’ve been pondering this question lately. It has nothing to do with giving up on DUET and everything to do with the fact that I’m well into revisions on my new WIP and plan to have it to betas by the end of November. I have to strategize with the assumption that I won’t get an agent with DUET even though I’m still hoping I will. Considering I expect to have the new WIP ready to query in February, I should probably wrap up querying DUET by the beginning of December. It goes against my urge to hold some queries back in case I get revision suggestions from other agents, but even with this timeframe, there’s the possibility some DUET requests could still be out there when I’m ready to query the new one. But if I’m going to have something new ready, I need to get DUET out to the rest of the agents on my list and hope its current polish catches the attention of THE ONE. That would be ideal, right? Because ultimately I hope I don’t have to query the new one, but if that’s the way it goes, I’ll be ready.
What timing strategies have you employed? Any tips for me?