Congratulations! You have sent off your masterfully written query letter and eagerly await a request (or two! Or three! Or a dozen!) from literary agents.
And then you wait for a long time. So what do you do?
ANSWER: Leave the agent alone! Do not hound the agent! If you annoy her, she will decide—before even reading your query—that you’re a pain and she doesn’t want to work with you. The agency website probably gives an estimate for how long query responses take. Some agencies only write you back if they want to see the book, so in those cases, you might not hear anything. Ever. STORY: I just experienced this and was tempted to write again. I did receive an automated “we have received your query” email when I initially sent the query, so I know the agent “got it,” but apparently she just wasn’t interested. So I moved on. Again: Do not hound the agent!
Give the agent whatever time the website recommends or whatever time the agent says she needs. If after the allotted time you have not heard anything, write a polite email reminding the agent about it and include the query again in that email. Be polite. Agents are busy and won’t like it if you bother them. They are working all the time.
While you’re waiting, keep researching other agents! Make lists, keep files, etc. I’ll write more about how to “strategize” in a later post.