top of page
  • Writer's pictureAdmin

Dear Literary Agent, Have I Queried You Before?

How are you keeping track of how you're querying literary agents? Old school with a piece of paper and a pen? Paying for premium Query Manager membership? Excel Spreadsheet? (That's what I do.)

There may be no right or wrong answer to how you keep track of querying literary agents. Honestly, out of the whole process, keeping track may be the easiest part. But like everything when it comes to writing, editing, and publishing, there eventually needs to be a system.

After you have done the hard work of writing and editing to the standards of querying a literary agent (which the standards will be different for every author), the time comes to query agents if you are going down a traditional publishing path.

Once you have a good start of where to find agents (via Query Manager, conferences, in the acknowledgements sections of your favorite books, etc.), you'll want to start building your literary agent list. You may be very lucky and get an ask for a manuscript right away (and you would be one in a million), but most times, querying will take months if not years.

While I think you should totally start querying once you have a small list--on the off chance you land a literary agent--building a list is important to find literary agents who will like your work and are looking for work like yours and to start building a database of literary agents who aren't open for querying right now.

This database does not need to be complicated, so here is what mine has:

  • Who: Names, pronouns, preferred name

  • Contact: Email, Query Manager URL

  • Company: Literary agency

    • I recommend keeping a tab on Excel Spreadsheet of just literary agencies for later use. This is also very helpful when looking for additional literary agents.

  • Books: May not be applicable for all literary agents, but if they have an author you like/ have read, who?

  • Why: Based on literary agent bios or wishlists from your research, literary agents will tell you what they are looking for, i.e. genres, tropes, etc.

    • Match those things up with your own story and create a ranking system.

  • Date Sent: Mark down the date you sent your WIP

  • Time Frame: Either on the literary agent page, wishlist, etc., there will (most likely) be a mention of time frame of when you will hear feedback (manuscript ask or rejection).

  • Rejected Date: Mark down the date and give yourself a little treat to feel better.

  • Feedback: If you receive feedback, take a look at your work.

    • While writing is creative and all art is subjective, a literary agent is a fresh pair of eyes.

Now that you have a list--or a start of a list--you can look through the ranking. I'm not technical with the ranking, but I consider who I'm querying by the genres and tropes they like and then slip them into my query letter. Really, how I end up ranking query agents is not by a number system but with color: dull yellow, medium yellow, bright yellow, green.

There are literary agents who have been on my query list for months who I have never queried because they aren't the "perfect" fit. A literary agent is not going to take the time to look at a WIP if it doesn't fit what they're looking for in that moment. However, I would suggest keeping them on your literary agent list in case something changes.

The overall question you may have about why a list is... why? Because querying literary agent is a marathon, not a sprint. And you may look kinda stupid if you query the same agent twice.

Don't be me. Plan ahead.

Recent Posts

See All


bottom of page