Publishing Tales: So You Sent A Query, Now What?
So You Sent A Query,
As requested, all you need to know about what happens after a query letter is sent. So you studied the art of query writing, crafted the ultimate query letter, and sent it off. Now what happens? This is a huge question to tackle as many things can transpire.
Hopefully, you are wise enough to have a massive list of agents and publishers to send to. I don't think I've heard many stories of people landing their dream agent on their first query. Possible? Yes. But setting that expectation could end in disappointment.
Common Agent Responses To A Query From Worst To Best (In My Opinion):
- No response--agents/publishers are busy people so can't always respond
- Form rejection--agents/publishers copy/paste a generic rejection that it isn't what they are looking for
- Tailored rejection--agents/publishers give you exact reasons for the rejection tailored to your book
- Partial request--agents/publishers ask for a portion of the manuscript, like 50 pages, for example
- Full request--agents/publishers ask for it all (congrats on the next step!)
Sadly, I've heard many stories from agents and publishers about authors' terrible behavior after being rejected after a query. NEVER contact an agent after you are rejected with anything except a "thank you for your time," but you don't even need to do that (I always had that in my query so saying it again is pointless). They are busy people. Check your emotions or ego and move on to the next query submission. This is a marathon not a sprint. The type of rejection you get does not reflect upon your work but how busy they might be or the precise book they are looking for.
I got a full request! What's next?
Congratulations! This means your query rocked and if they asked for a partial, it was solid. But please, be proud but don't get overly excited. These are potential outcomes (worst to best again).
- Rejected: Sometimes the rejection after this could be merely because of time; agents/publishers fell in love with another book and have no room on their schedule for you. Or perhaps they had an issue with it too much to negotiate with you. Usually, they do give a very short real reason why. Personally, I have been ignored after partials more than rejected after a full, but it did happen once. A publisher I had worked with for my first two works told me my book was too much of a high fantasy for their trends. They don't represent a lot of high fantasy and had liked my fast-paced dystopian read, so this was bad on my part for assuming they'd take it since they liked my previous novel.
- R & R: revise and resubmit is exactly what it sounds like. Agents/publishers tell you the issue of why they won't represent the book but offer to reread your manuscript after you make the necessary changes. This is a tough decision depending on what change is asked of you. I personally passed on two of these because they wanted me to drastically alter my vision, wanting to make my book something completely different. Something I viewed as negative (I did get it published on my terms later)
- Negotiations: agents/publishers might want to have a conversation before anything is signed. They want the book, but might have reservations that are not as drastic as an R & R. I had three phone meetings with an agent and all seemed set in stone until she said the company's film studio liaison division also had to approve it. That didn't happen. Another time, a publisher was worried about my ending, making me realize, I divided up the series just a little too early, so I signed on with them because it was simply moving a few ideas from the second book into the first.
- Acceptance: obviously, this is what we all want. Agents/publishers fell in love with your work and ask to represent you. I have had two straight up acceptances after a request for the full manuscripts. It is the best feeling.
Still at the query stage? Here are examples of a query I used and altered like a template over time.