Querying is no writers’ favorite. These free submission spreadsheets won’t make the querying process less emotionally fraught or more successful, but they will help you be more organized. That frees more time for writing and binge-eating ice cream which will make your querying more successful and ease the emotionally fraught-ness.
I’ve outlined how to use the spreadsheets. Make sure to scroll down and download them, too!
The Agent spreadsheet is a place to organize information about the agents you’re planning to submit to. Which means that first, you need agents to put into the spreadsheet.
Finding Agents/Editors to Submit To
Finding agents that represent the kinds of books you are submitting is a daunting task. Do you know how many agents pop up in a google search? These are great places to start:
- Publisher’s Marketplace
- Manuscript Wishlist
- Books like SCBWI’s The Book and Writer’s Market
- Lists like The Monster Book of Picture Book Agents
How I did it: I gathered my list using Publisher’s Marketplace. It’s a paid membership but it gives you access to a lot of information that you cant’ get otherwise – like sales histories. I searched the picture book category for the top-selling agents and agencies. The top 100 or so agents got added to my spreadsheet.
Then I went through the top 50 agencies and added every agent with picture book sales. If an agent was new to the agency and was open to picture books I added them, too. My reasoning is that a new agent wouldn’t necessarily have sales yet, but if they were at a top selling agency for picture books, then they have the mentorship to make the sales of those books.
Comparing other resources to Publisher’s Marketplace, I found that a lot of agents say they’re interested in picture books online, but aren’t selling them. Conversely, I found agents that I hadn’t even heard of who had fantastic sales records.
Using it yourself: If you write picture books – you’re in luck! I left my list in the spreadsheet and it’s a great place to start your research. If you write a different children’s book genre or in another market, then you’ll have to come up with your own list. (Sorry.)
Filling Out The Spreadsheet
This spreadsheet will help you keep track of the most important information you need to know about an agent: who they are and what they represent. It will also help with record-keeping so you don’t commit a querying faux pas. (Like sending the same manuscript to two agents at the same agency. Or, worse, sending the same manuscript to the same agent twice.)
That means doing research. Places you can check:
- Their agency page
- Manuscript Wishlist
- Their webpage if they have one.
- Publisher’s Marketplace – you can see what books they have sold (including ones that may not be announced yet!), who they represent, what types of books and content they represent, etc.
- Google for things like “[agent name] interview”
You don’t have to go all of these! (Thank goodness.) But make sure you know (at minimum) if they’re open to submissions for work like yours, how to submit, and why they are a good fit for your work. That last one is key when you write your query letter, so make sure to make note of anything you dig up that will help you make the case.
By the time you fill this out, you’ll have most of the information you need to query which brings us to our next spreadsheet.
Now you’re ready to submit. You’ve already done most of the hard work – but some record keeping will keep you on track.
The first sheet is where you will list the queries that are awaiting a reply. (Either a response or for the time to pass on a “no response means no” reply.)
I like this dashboard because I can very quickly see what I have outstanding and when I can expect a reply.
Once you get a reply to your query (or time elapses), cut the row from the Current Submissions sheet and paste into the Past submissions sheet. The column headers are the same, so it will all fit perfectly. Fill out additional information about when you got the reply and what the decision was.
I’ve done a fair number of queries (like many writers I thought I was ready long before I actually was). But because I’ve kept this information I can tell you exactly what agent saw what manuscript going back unto the beginning of querying time. And while I might want to forget my cringy first efforts, that info can be really useful in the long run.
Get The Free Submissions Spreadsheets
There you have it – a map for querying and two ready-made, free spreadsheets to get you started. If this helps, please let me know!