Why I Queried 3 Books at Once
Don't cancel me, please
Between August 2019 and July 2020 I queried 3 books. Yes, I did it simultaneously.
I didn’t mean for it to happen that way, but publishing was so slow and I produce around 2 books a year, so I had more books than I knew what to do with. I’d queried on and off from 2016-2019 with 3 separate books and in 2019 decided to give it a renewed focus.
I started with a quiet YA contemporary fantasy in August 2019 as part of being an Avengers of Color mentee. I’d received some full requests but it was a quiet book and I wasn’t expecting a lot. Pitch Wars was rolling around and I had another, more commercial book (YA low fantasy) in my back pocket so I sent it in. I didn’t get picked, so I participated in DVPit with both of the YAs, got a few agent likes, and found myself querying two books. They were two very different books—the agents didn’t even overlap—and my focus was on the contemp fantasy, which was netting a higher request rate. By the end of the year I had a couple fulls out across the two books.
Then the months….dragged.
Agents had my fulls for 3 months, then 4, then 5, 6, 7, 8. I did an R&R on the quiet book and still heard nothing, then received the rejection (close, but not quite). In the meantime I had totally revised the YA low fantasy and written an Adult urban fantasy. Each book was so different, and I had written off the quiet book based on how long it was taking—I was ready to go out in full with the YA low fantasy and the Adult urban fantasy, starting with PitMad in June 2020.
I sent out a couple of queries for the Adult urban fantasy in April (thus marking the beginning of my 3 book querying experience) and waited for June. I received some passes, some requests, and it was still radio silence from the agents with the quiet book (I nudged at about 6 months, then 8, everyone was busy, the pandemic had just hit, no hard feelings).
Then I blew up at PitMad. I pitched the YA low fantasy and received hundreds of retweets, dozens of agent likes. The Adult was even more popular—around 850 retweets, dozens of agent likes. I couldn’t believe it (I mean I had been doing this for so long and for mediocre results) so I revamped my queries for both books and sent them out.
I received an offer on my Adult and then…chaos. Suddenly I had a bunch of agents to nudge and not all of them had been reading this Adult. I thought I’d made a major misstep and would be blacklisted from, well, everything. Truth be told it was way easier than I thought. I said, simply “I’ve received an offer of representation on another book and need to make a decision, here’s a pitch for this other book. I can send it if you’d like to read it, otherwise just decide based on what you have” (except phrased better). I’m very indebted to my Avengers of Color mentor (Chloe Gong, preorder Foul Lady Fortune) for helping me figure out how to navigate that scenario.
Some agents requested to see the full for this new book, some agents just read what they had. I ended up with 4 offers of rep: 2 on the Adult, 1 on both YAs, 1 on the YA low fantasy. So…yeah, 3 books over 11 months (I signed with my agents in July/August 2020). Do I recommend it? Well, this method worked for me, but it’s not something to undertake lightly. It can get messy and confusing, but considering the age group, genre, and vibe differences between the three books I decided to risk it all.
In the end, I had a 31% request rate on the YA low fantasy, 22% on the YA contemp, and 47% on the Adult urban fantasy. If you add those together I have a 100% request rate, and that’s showbiz, baby (I’m joking, I know that’s not how numbers work). It’s difficult to take power back into your hands as a querying writer, and this was my way. Again, not necessarily recommending this, but considering the extended response times from agents and editors these days, would I probably do it again to increase my chances? Yeah, maybe.
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