Sanity Saver?

Time to talk about a feature of the professional level of Query Tracker called the timeline. I find myself checking it daily. Just keeping an eye on things. And I’ll admit I like observing how agents go through their inboxes.

Some agents are methodical and step through their inboxes one query at a time. Some agents seem to give a query a quick look over as an initial ‘yea’ or ‘nay’. Then they step through the remaining queries one by one. Some agents seem to be rather mecurical and jump from one group of queries to another.

Why would I call this a sanity saver when it can be so unpredictable?

Easy, it lets me feel seen. I have evidence that my query is in the queue. This will likely lead to heartbreak as silent rejections pile up, but for now I have evidence that my query is lurking in their inbox.

Query Tracker Timeline

The image above is a peek at the timeline feature. I did cut out the very top of the page because it contained the agent’s name. Other than that you can make out all the salient points of the page.
— How was the query sent?
— A range of dates from 30 days to 1 year of history.
Below the area to set your parameters, there is a numbered list of the queries that are waiting in this agent’s queue. The symbols break down like this –
— White (with blue) are queries waiting for a decision.
— As you can guess, red is a rejection, complete with frowny face.
— Green is a request for more materials.

Query Traker Timeline single instance

If you click on any white icon within a row, you can see the basic information of the query. When was it submitted? What is the genre? What is the word count?

You can also see more information on individual queries, such as turn around time and the basics where an agent asked for more information.
The image to the left is a good example.
The initial date of the query is followed by the request for a full manuscript after one day. (That’s wonderful, but don’t take it as typical.) The author put in their full manuscript the very same day. They received a response three days later, to the negative.

Now, there is a nice little refinement in the timeline that allows the prospective authors to keep track of their own query without having to troll through the entire queue. That’s an important feature when the inbox is over 600 entries. That happens more than you might think.

The way to recognize your entry is to look for the yellow band. The color denotes your place in the line. You’ll notice I took off the numbers at the right hand side of the image. I removed the numbers to emphasize that the yellow band, demarking your entry, can be anywhere in that queue. The program organizes the queries by the order they were received in the agents inbox. Which, is not as important an indicator as you might hope.

You see, agents are under no obligation to go through their inboxes in any prescribed manner. Some hunt and peck. Some do large batches. Some seem to do a quick yes/no look when queries first come in. Some agents stay on top of their inboxes, and others like to wait until there is a batch to do all at once. You can get a sense for how an agent likes to work through their inbox by studying the timeline, but that’s all it is, an impression. There is no guarantee that past tendencies will assure future action. Remember that.

So, how does one read one of these timelines? Allow me to give you a sample of three very different ‘profiles’ you might see. We will call them creatively A,B, and C.

From left to right (a), (b), and (c).

Starting with the timeline from Agent A. Here you see someone who is marching through their inbox at an orderly pace. The only exceptions I see are the two quickly turned-around queries toward the bottom of the image. Those were, likely, an obvious ‘no’ for this agent.

The timeline for Agent B is a little more involved. You can see that the agent is still working down their inbox. But they appear to be going in more groups. Checking the dates when the decisions were made will prove this theory in one direction or the other. But do note that there are some unfilled lines in this inbox. Those lines are what? Does this point to a ‘maybe’ pile? All you can really say is the fate of those queries is, as yet, undecided.

On to the inbox of Agent C. This is the profile of an agent who appears to prefer to jump around the queue. There may be a commonality between the manuscripts that are evaluated, but that is not for us to know.

That is a relatively quick look at the timeline available in Query Tracker at the Professional level. I find the tool useful in helping to depressurize my anxiety. Others may find it nerve-wracking to watch the encroaching ‘decision.’ Either way, it is an available tool. Choosing to use it is on you.

And before anyone asks, I’m not getting paid for anything here. If I find a better tool, rest assured, I’ll tell you about that one too.

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