I’m getting to the obsessive stage of early querying.
Oh, who am I kidding? Getting to? I'm full blown OCD at this point. It rears its ugly head in times like this, when I’ve gotten just enough quick feedback/requests to have hope, but time is passing on the other queries that are out there, and I’m checking my email and Query Tracker hourly.
When I was a kid we just had regular phones. With actual CORDS that attached them to the wall. No cell phones. No texting capabilities. Just old fashioned land lines with no answering machine and no call waiting. Back in the day when you were expecting a call from someone, you would stalk that phone like a lion hunting prey. Remember picking it up real quick to make sure there was a dial tone? And then worrying that maybe that was the EXACT moment that they tried to call you? And God forbid my mom was on the phone! They could be trying to call and get a busy signal and I would NEVER KNOW! Torture, I tell you.
With technology things are a little different, and yet very much the same. Querytracker.net is a website where writers can research agents, track submissions and even socialize with other writers. It’s a GREAT tool that helps me monitor my queries and where agents are in the process. For example, writers can log in their queries to specific agents and then enter the responses they get. By checking an agent’s “data”, you can get an idea of where they are in their “slush pile,” how often they are requesting manuscripts, what type of manuscripts they are requesting, etc. (Slush pile is the term they use for their ever-growing collection of unsolicited queries/manuscripts.)
As I said, it’s a GREAT tool. But sometimes too much information can create anxiety, right? For example, there is one agent who gave me some encouraging feedback on my last novel and invited me to submit to her again. She seems to be pretty timely in her query responses. When I look at her response data, my submission shows up highlighted in yellow.
As you can see, she has rejected two queries that were submitted after mine. Does that mean she’s thinking about mine? Mulling it over? Or does it mean she never got it? (Some agencies have an automatic reply when you submit so you know it was received. Others don’t. She does not.) I find myself checking her stats many times a day, like I used to check for that dial tone on the phone. My “reply” will not show up until I log it in, but the other writers above me give me a hint as to where mine is in the process. Since I know she responds to all queries, it’s just a matter of time before I get an email, positive or negative.
It kind of reminds me of imessage. For those of you with iphones (maybe other phones do this too? I don’t know...), you know those three little dots – the ellipses – that show when someone is reading your text or responding? Kinda cool, right? Except for when the person doesn’t actually respond. You know they’ve read your text – you can see it right on your phone – but they’re not answering! Are they mad? Blowing you off? Having fun at a party without you? Your mind can go to crazy places. Same thing with this Query Tracker stuff. Maybe we were all better off in the good old days, when what you didn’t know couldn’t hurt you!
Anyway, excuse me while I go check Query Tracker…