|Photo credit: Pimthida on Flickr|
The submission process is often a time of high anxiety for the writer. Between the seemingly endless waiting period, the inevitable rejections and the half-excited half-terrified jumpiness that comes with the arrival of every new e-mail, the query wars are nothing to scoff at.
But while certain anxieties are pretty near inevitable when dealing with the submission process, a little organization can go a long way to making the process of sending those dreaded query letters a little easier.
I keep track of all of my sent queries in an Excel spreadsheet meant to help me before and after the query is sent. While I’m researching, I keep track of all potential submissions in this spreadsheet, organized by agency. I include information like hints for personalization (to that specific agent), what exactly they’re looking for (ergo: why I’m querying them), submission policies, average response time, and e-mail.
Once I have everything filled in, I usually have more than enough information to tailor my query to that specific agent, which makes it much easier to tweak my query as necessary.
After the query is sent, I keep track of the date on the spreadsheet. While this type of information isn’t immediately useful, it does become helpful to keep a record of the date you sent your queries and the date you received a response (whether positive or negative), to help get a general idea as to actual response times (or at least your experience of said agent’s response time).
The final bit of usefulness from this spreadsheet is a little sobering, but useful nonetheless. The truth is, regardless of how incredible your query and your book is, chances are you aren’t going to get a 100% positive response rate. Keeping record of who has already seen your query can save you from accidentally re-querying an agent with the same novel (which is helpful because unless you’ve made enormous revisions, chances are an agent who rejected your query doesn’t want to see it again).
While I won’t say that this sort of organized record keeping is mandatory for querying writers, I will say that it’s helpful in the long run to keep some sort of systemized record of your submissions.
After all, it’s unlikely that you’ll regret keeping a record, but not so unlikely that you’ll be glad you did.
Do you keep a record of your submissions while querying? What methods do you use to keep organized?