querying

Batch Querying

Batch querying is sending out batches of queries to agents, usually 5 to 10 queries a session. Then an author waits on responses to see if the query and pages are hooking agents or not. If they aren’t, or perhaps if they got feedback, the author revises and sends the next batch. This is the querying method I see recommended all the time, but recently while reading agent interviews I noticed an agent who shall remained unnamed complain about this method. However, I disagree with the agent’s complaints as a writer and as someone trying to break into agenting.

The perks of batch querying means an author has  a chance to revise and follow any feedback (which admittedly is rare to get from agents) before querying other agents. Plus let’s face it, querying agents takes a lot of time and authors can query anywhere from a few dozen to over a hundred for any given book. Batch querying helps authors break those large amounts up into a smaller, more manageable amount. For those with busy schedules, it would be impossible to find enough time to query every agent on their list in one setting.

Now the agent claimed batch querying was unfair to the agents. Why? because it meant one agent might get longer with a manuscript and make an offer, when another agent only recently received the query a week or two ago and hasn’t had time to read yet. The agent claimed it was unprofessional and bad karma because it was inconvenient to the second agent. Due to the reasons stated in the previous paragraph, I disagree with her. The odds are already stacked against authors and they should use whatever method gives them the best chance instead of worrying about all agents getting the same amount of time with a query. Even if you have fulls out, it can takes months to hear back, assuming you get a response at all. Some agents are more caught up with queries than others, so even if authors did query all at once and wound up with an offer, some agents still may not have gotten around to reading. Authors already have enough hoops to jump through.

As far as I could tell, the agent in question wasn’t a writer, which didn’t surprise me. She also seemed to think authors should be grateful if she is willing to read the full instead of rejecting them right away. I think agents forget how mentally exhausting querying can be for writers. Saying no to queries is simple, but for the author hours of sweat and passion went into that submission and getting rejection after rejection can be discouraging. When I find a submission I’m interested in, I try to read as fast as possible so I can alert my boss and get us in touch with the author. If an offer comes in shortly after I get it, I don’t think “wow this is unfair.” I think “this must be good to already have an offer. Maybe we should throw our hat in the ring.” If the author accepts a different offer, well it happens. Time to move on.

Personally after reading the interview, I put the agent on my “never query” list because she didn’t seem to appreciate all the work and effort authors put into querying. She was only thinking about what inconveniences her personally and her attitude toward how authors should feel grateful and beholden to an agent for being willing to read their full left a sour taste in my mouth. Agents are looking for stories they believe in and are willing to champion, and that’s what should matter when they decide to read a full. The author doesn’t owe them anything in return, just like how agents don’t owe authors for querying them.

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