Newbie Writing Mistakes Monday–KEEP TRACK OF QUERIES!

This post is going to be short & sweet, because a) the time change, combined with allergy-induced asthma, has brewed the perfect storm of sleep-loss for me, and b) this is an easy one–you probably already do it!

Here it is: Keep Good Records of Agents You’ve Queried.
When I queried my first book, I figured it would get picked up by the first agent who read it (shockingly, this DID NOT happen). I would write agents I was querying down in a little notebook that was already over-run with my passwords for various online sites. So it was totally disorganized, with information everywhere (and in every direction, too!).

I revamped my query, with the help of my friend Diane (who I call my PRE-agent). We were ready for round two of querying. Problem was, she wanted a list of agents I’d already queried.

Ummm…yeah. So I had to pick my way around my junky, disorganized notebook. Thank goodness for G-mail’s “Sent mail” folder! At least I recognized most of the names of agents I’d queried already, and was able to get a somewhat-comprehensive list together.

I know there are some cool websites out there, including Query Tracker ( that help you keep track of who you’re querying. But if you want to go more low-tech, I’d recommend that you at least buy a new notebook!

Toward the end of my agent hunt, I opened a gmail document, listing all the agents. Every time I’d send a new query, I’d add that agent’s name to the list. For each response, I’d add comments in bold, like “FULL” for full MS requests, or “NO” in bold, for those who chose to refuse me. For one agent, I even wrote “NO–AND DO NOT EVER ASK AGAIN!” (I was a little ticked). 

Short and sweet, there it is!

***How about you? I know you’re more organized than I am! What do you find is the best way to keep track of agents?***

20 thoughts on “Newbie Writing Mistakes Monday–KEEP TRACK OF QUERIES!

  1. I'm kind of organized. I keep telling myself I'll make a spread sheet but that hasn't happened. So far I have a word document that I am using. Thanks for the tips, it's motivation to get more organized.

  2. Hey, a Word document is great, TC! Far more organized than a notebook with stuff all over the place! It is handy to have all your info in one place, including those agents who've requested the first 3 chapters, the entire MS, etc.

  3. I so get short and sweet lately. I've been slammed these past few days.I had a notebook full of agent names. Funny thing is that I only ever queried a handful of them. But I was Girl Scout prepared. ;)~ Wendy

  4. There's definitely much to be said for being Girl Scout prepared, Wendy! And it's so wonderful if you can bypass some of the Query Trenches Angst (this is a proper noun, to me!). Polishing that query till it shines is a great way to move ahead quickly, but no guarantee of success. It's more a matter of hitting that right agent at the right time in the right way, I think!

  5. As a bit of a nerd, I realised early on that I'd need to organise my submissions, so I created a database that I've pretty much used – without redesign – ever since! Actually, I'm so much more of a nerd than you're thinking that I actually taught myself Access (basic stuff) to be able to do it!

  6. Annalisa, yes, that might be a little nerdy. But effective. Nerds are nothing, if not effective! Hee. Seriously, I'm very fond of nerds, and it's awesome that you've been able to stick w/the one database.

  7. I made a spreadsheet before I began querying. It has everything I need to keep up. When I send the query, I change the agent's color. When I get a response, I change the color that reflects a rejection or acceptance. It keeps things nice and tidy. Great post!!

  8. Yes, it's easy to confuse agencies, too, Donna. And from what I've read, agencies only want you to query one agent. Just thinking…is a rejection from the agent a final rejection from the entire agency? I never pondered this before.

  9. I have a very complicated spreadsheet with about 50 columns in it, including: m/s title, version, agent name, email, agency, their subs requirements, what was sent, which query letter I used, date sent, stated duration before reply, date received, result. And, because I was super optimistic when i built it… Publisher, date of contract, editor, galley date, arc date, publication date.It's grouped by agency and agent so I always know what I sent to whom.Ok, so I'm an anal SOB!Hmm.. I like that colors coding idea.

  10. I highly recommend getting a premium subscription to Query Tracker. It made all the difference while I was querying. I even keep track in the notes section when they send a confirmation receipt or what their reply is.It keeps my inbox so much cleaner.

  11. Woah, Graeme, that's over and beyond anything I could have ever come up with (are you also good at Algebra, by any chance? grin). VERY well-thought! And Kimberlee, I'd wondered about QueryTracker, so thanks for the heads-up that it's totally worth it!

  12. This time change has messed me up too!I keep a record of the short stories and poems I've submitted. It's a little daunting. Instead of logging "rejected" I put "declined". It's a little less painful.

  13. LOL, I had one of those disorganized notebooks too, at first. The names of the agents were squeezed in between grocery lists. 😉 Now I keep a spreadsheet, though it's mostly just a list that's waiting for the "queried" boxes to be filled in.

  14. I would have been dead if it weren't for query tracker. And even with query tracker, I accidentally queried one agent twice. I guess I forgot to mark her. She was less than impressed with me and even personalized a rejection to tell me so. LOL! Learned not to send out queries when I'm half asleep. 🙂

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