I've put together an Excel spreadsheet to keep track of all the queries I have out there. It's nothing fancy with only six columns - Agency, Date Sent, Rejected, Manuscript (this column is still empty), Contact, and Notes. Even with the sent folder on my email I still found myself getting a little confused as to what companies I've contacted and what agent I submitted to. This spreads it out right in front of me all in one place. If you're just starting out like I am I would strongly recommend doing something like this. In the notes section I put comments such as "No response after 48 hours means 'No'", "one sentence rejection letter" (seriously?), doesn't respond if it's a 'no'", and similar items. You could also put how many pages/chapters each agent is looking for, company websites, email addresses, or whatever other information you deem relevant. I don't have email addresses listed on my spreadsheet because that forces me to revisit the website before I send the query. This gives me the chance to look over the agent bios once again to see if anything has changed and to make sure I still feel the person I chose is the right one for me.
I also sent my query letter to Writer, Writer, Pants on Fire for critique. Every Saturday she has something called "Saturday Slash" where she picks apart query letters in an effort to make them stronger. I thought my query letter was fairly strong but with seven rejections so far - two of which came in less than two hours after the query letter was sent - I thought it couldn't hurt to see what Mindy had to say.
Most of the rejections I've received have been pretty basic or blunt (I'm still hung up on the one sentence thing) but one's stands out from the bunch. I had planned on not revealing any of the agents or agencies I have already queried or plan to query but I think this warrants a rule break.
Paige Wheeler at Creative Media Agency, LLC turned me down but gave me hope at the same time. She encouraged me keep trying and invited me to query her in the future when I have another project. I read that as her saying she didn't connect with this particular project but saw something she liked in my work. Though, I could be reading too much into things. It wouldn't be the first time.
I thought the thoughtful and kind email made Paige worth highlighting and if any other first time authors are reading this blog I suggest sending your stuff her way. She wasn't right for me but maybe she'll be right for you.
And, even though she turned me down I still emailed her back to thank her for her time and her kindness. It probably won't change her mind but I saw it as a bridge worth trying to build.