I’ve been wanting to shake things up here at Agents & Books. For everyone, I want to go through the archives and update/refresh some things we’ve already talked about, while still tackling new stuff that pops up—like, have you seen the latest from We Need Diverse Books about the term #ownvoices? (Feel free to suggest a topic to me—just hit reply to the email version. There’s a handy list of things we’ve covered on the homepage at katemckean.substack.com.) But I wanted to do something different than my Q&A Thursdays for paid subscribers, and it finally came to me.
The Fifty Queries Club
I spoke to some writers recently through SFWA, and a lot of them were in the same boat. They’d sent out a bunch of queries. They’d gotten a few requests, even some feedback, but no offers. What was the problem?, they asked. My query? The market? My pages? The agents? Our post-pandemic world?
But of course, I couldn’t really tell from our short conversation, especially without seeing their list and the query and a few pages. So, I thought, what if I could do that? What if I could do a check in and see if I could offer any advice? So I came up with The Fifty Queries Club. Have you sent out fifty queries and had no offers of rep (or the one you got was not a good fit)? Do you have a query and the first five pages of your manuscript handy? Are you a paid subscriber? Then fill out this form and I will look at your materials and give you any insight I can. I will write about that insight on Thursdays for other readers to benefit from, too.
There’s no magic about the number fifty. It just felt like a good milestone. It’s a number that means I’ve been at this a while. It’s a number that shows you’ve put in the work and kept at it. I think that effort is admirable. If you’ve sent 48 and there are just no more agents to send to, you can submit. If you’ve sent 103, you can submit. If you’ve sent 10 queries, please keep going and check back with me later.
I will keep your work anonymous. I will not print the title, but will mention the genre and audience because often that is germane. I will not publisher your list, pages, or query, though I might quote from them to illustrate my points. If you have any concerns about anonymity, there’s space to tell me that on the form.
Here’s some things to remember and know:
I will not make fun of your query or book or list or anything. This not a OMG LOOK AT THIS GOOF column. I may tell you things you don’t want to hear, but this will be gentle and focused on learning, not shaming.
This is not an end run to query me. I will not be considering these submissions as queries to myself. (You cannot pay the subscription fee and get the inside track to being a client.)
If you don’t provide all the materials, then I will not review your work.
I mean, I guess you could lie about sending 50 queries and just put a bunch of names in a spreadsheet, but you will know you have done that and if we ever meet or you want to work with me in the future, you will know that and I might find that out and that will not look great. We’re working on the honor system here. Please don’t abuse it.
The goal here is to see if I can pinpoint anything that may help you improve your chances in getting an agent, for this book or the next. There’s always a chance that you did everything right and there isn’t a clear fix.
You may not email me these materials. If you email them to me, I will delete them.
The formatting on the form might get wonky. THAT’S OK. Do not freak out about formatting.
I will probably run these twice a month, alternating with Q&A Thursday.s
Comments are open if you have more questions!! I’m really excited about this. I hope you are, too!
Another new thing here at Agents and Books. If you cannot afford a subscription, please let me know and we can work it out. You can respond to the email version or email me at email@example.com. I hope that those who can afford to pay will, but that those who need access can get it, too. If you’re in the position to sponsor any subscriptions, just let me know.
Our first Fifty Queries Club could be this Thursday! And it could be YOU!
Take care, my masked and vaxed friends,