Day: October 7, 2011

Finding places to query

The process looks something like this:

See a book on my child’s desk at Parent Teacher conferences. Realize that the book cover and title seems very like the type of book I’ve written. Carefully scribble down title and author when teacher thinks I am writing notes about the conference.

When at home, look up the book at Read synopsis. It does seem similar in tone to my book. Write down the name of the publishing company next to the name of the author. Scroll through the “people who bought this book also bought” list. Identify more books which look similar to my book. Write down those authors and publishers.

Take the titles to my local library’s online catalog. They do have the book, so the next day when I’m at the library with the kids, take a detour into the adult non-fiction section. Find the book. Peruse the shelves around the book for other books which look similar in content or tone. Shush kids who are playing with the library’s rolling stools. Grab a stack of books to check out.

When at home, sit down with the books and the list. Flip through the books to see who the publishers are. Look at acknowledgements to see if the author names an agent or an editor who worked on the book. Write those names on the list next to author names. Take the list to my computer. Google to identify more agents and/or editors associated with the book titles.

Open and start filling in agent names. See if the agents are open to unsolicited queries. Peruse the “what I’m looking for” list to see if the agent will be interested. Compare the agent’s name to my submissions document to make sure that I don’t already have a query out at that agency. If all looks good, copy the agent’s name and contact information into my “To Query” file.

Google publisher names and editor names. See if I can find submission information. Add that information to my “To Query” file.

I am now ready to send out queries. Each query takes at least 10 minutes as I try to personalize the opening and closing paragraphs. Sometimes I have to print and mail the query.

By this time I am tired of the whole process, so I sigh in relief that I’ve done my job. Either it will sell, or it won’t. For the moment I can cheerfully ignore it… until I happen across another book which looks like it might cater to the same audience. Then I have a job to do again.

Fall Parent Teacher Conferences

Parent teacher conferences are always fraught, not with peril, but with the potential for high emotion. Sometimes I enter with worries and exit with new reassurance and confidence. Other times I have no particular concerns going in, but leave reeling from how much more that child needs than they have been getting. It is my chance to speak with teachers who have alternate viewpoints upon my child’s development. They see things that I don’t, not because I’m unobservant, but because school is different than home and different aspects of my children rise to the surface.

Last week I had conferences for my older two kids. Today I had conferences for the younger two. I now have a laundry list of needs which require me to adjust the family schedule (yet again) so that they fit. The adjustments are minor, but time and energy must be spent on them. Mostly the things which turned up in the conferences are not surprising. We’re having new iterations of familiar problems, nothing new or baffling. This means that the solutions are new iterations of old solutions. In a way the familiarity of it all is reassuring. The kids are all exactly where they need to be for steady growth.

I’ve never seen parent teacher conferences from the teacher side of the desk. I know how tired it makes me, even when there’s no major issue to address. I marvel at the stamina of those teachers, who have 25-30 conferences in two days and a laundry list of issues they hope to address. They must face varying levels of indifference, anxiousness, over-protectiveness, and outright bewilderment from the parents who show up. Teachers are expected to find all the trouble spots and provide solutions, often when no easy solutions are to be had. I am constantly impressed by the efforts of the dedicated teachers who work with me for the benefit of my children.