Congratulations! After countless hours of drafting, revising, rewriting, and polishing, your awesome Young Adult novel is finally complete! Now, to achieve your dream of publication, all you have to do is… everything else.
As you pivot into the querying process and begin researching agents and publishers, you’ll face tons of questions and decisions that will put your book on the path to its ultimate fate. Information will pile up until your project becomes an overwhelming slog of names, dates, and finicky submission guidelines. Don’t give in to despair! By setting up a consistent method of tracking your queries, your writing life will become more manageable, and your future self will thank you.
One popular online method is QueryTracker.net, a platform that allows querying writers to track their submissions to various agents and publishers.
- collects data from thousands of users and generates detailed reports about each agent (typical response times, preferred genres, rate of acceptance by word count, etc.)
- provides an extensive database of agents, searchable by name and genre (includes both basic info and links to external sites such as ManuscriptWishlist.com, another excellent resource in the querying stage)
- features “My Query List” (allows you to keep track of the agents you’ve queried—and the ones you’d like to try)
- offers both a free option and a premium membership (includes additional filtering/searching capabilities for the agent database, consolidated data reports, and more detailed information about each agent)
Another option for keeping track of your submissions is to create your own spreadsheet in Microsoft Excel or Google Sheets. Spreadsheets are great!
- versatile and infinitely customizable, allowing for a consolidation of information tailored to your exact specifications
- perfect for tracking submissions in multiple genres or formats (short story/essay submissions, contest entries, applications to writing retreats and mentorship programs, etc.)
- useful tools simplify ongoing organization (create drop-down menus, freeze certain rows, and color-code each entry based on query status for quick visual recognition of your progress)
For a basic query tracker for novel submissions, you should create columns for the following information: agency, agent name, contact info, submission date, response date, and outcome. Then, you can add in extra columns for details about submission guidelines, the dates and details of follow-up messages, and anything else that’s important to you. Though it can sometimes be challenging to get your spreadsheet to do exactly what you want it to, the results are definitely worth it in the long run!
The querying process is daunting, and it can be tempting to dive into drafting the next amazing novel forming in your mind, but getting organized right away—whatever method you choose—will help make your querying life the best experience it can be.