On Transports (and Why I'm Glad I'm Doing Them)

In Agent Query's advice on submitting to agents, they suggest pacing yourself, querying batches of no more than 10 agents or so. This is really good advice, I've discovered. Through the evolution of language, my batches have become known as transports. Here are some reasons I'm glad I'm doing transports, and a couple of pieces of advice that I'd wish I'd known:
  1. Querying agents is hard. Every single agent has unique requirements about what to send. Even in the query letter (which they all want to see), each agent is looking for something different. What that means is that each query is a unique package, and must be treated as such. I could send a form letter to a hundred agents, but well over 90% of them wouldn't even read it because I didn't follow their rules.
  2. Querying is a skill. The query letter and synopsis go through revisions just like the novel, and the more I revise and learn about it, the better I get. If I had queried every agent with my initial query letter, my chances would've been a lot worse than after using what I'd learned.
  3. Querying takes time. I probably could've put a whole lot of time into revising the query letter to perfection and personalizing a hundred packages before sending any out, but it would've taken me forever (and some things I wouldn't have learned until I actually did it). And if I had done that, I wouldn't have gotten on to writing the next novel.
  4. Waiting takes forever. Every agent takes 1-90 days to get back to me. That's a long time. Emotionally, sending them out in transports is better because I get a more-or-less steady stream of responses to appease my curiosity.
  5. ADVICE: When selecting potential agents, there will always be agents that look perfect (A list) and agents that could work (B list). Each batch should have a mix of A-list and B-list agents, so that when you get around to your fourth and fifth batch (if it goes that far), and your query letter and synopsis have been polished even more, you still have A-list agents to query. I wish I had done that.
  6. ADVICE: As exciting as it is to query, it really is better to spend a lot of time polishing and researching good query letters beforehand. I did a lot of polishing and research, but not enough. Obviously, I wish I could've sent my current query version out to my first batch of agents, but watcha gonna do?
Of course, I still have yet to receive a positive response from any query, and that's kind of depressing. I'm trying to come to terms with the fact that most authors didn't become published on their first novel. What keeps me going is that Air Pirates is already better than Travelers, and I'm much more well-equipped to query for it when the time comes.

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