In the Trenches: Re-Thinking

Nervous energy was the mainstay of my week. I haven’t been able to sit and write a blog post for the past few days. But I can’t say there hasn’t been some important musing in the background.

Mainly, I’ve come to better understand the Timeline feature within Query Tracker. With my new understanding have come some new thoughts about its utility and the weight I should be giving it.

My initial excitement was based on a faulty assumption. I mistakenly assumed the timeline showed my place in the overall queue of an agent’s inbox. It does not. What it shows is the position of your query in relation to ‘today’. This means that when you put in a query, a time is assigned to that record in the database.

All good and simple so far.

Over the next 30 days, you can watch the number of queries after you grow. But, unless the agent is currently caught up on the incoming queries, that is where the immediate utility of the timeline stops.

On its first page, the default page, the timeline shows the queries sent to the agent over the last 30 days. This means that the record created by your submission will march up the rankings day by day. Until day 31, when they will vanish.

This creates the illusion that the agent is moving through their inbox and your query is nearing their attention. But that impression is wrong. What is happening is that your query is marching off the top of the page one day at a time.

After 30 days, you need to set the parameter for the search of the timeline to the previous 90 days. And after 90 days, you need to change the parameter to the previous 6 months.

In my initial understanding of the timeline feature, I didn’t comprehend the significance of those settings. Now I do.

You see, some of the agents I have submitted my query to are genuinely backed up to a stunning degree. The only way I learned this was by looking at the previous 6 months of the timeline. Some agents are digging themselves out of submissions they received in August 2022.

And looking at the timeline back to the previous 6 months or even the previous year, it is possible to see that some agents appear to have inboxes that resemble graveyards. They are places where queries go to languish until their death. In those inboxes, what you see are query after query that is closed by the person who submitted it, not by the agent. Some of these inboxes show no sign of the agent touching the queue. It is a curiosity that makes me wonder how or why they have an inbox.

I may never know. Although, I would love to hear from some agents about how they use QueryManager. I’m genuinely curious.

Until enlightenment, I have decided that the timeline isn’t all I thought it might be. Instead of a tool to help alleviate anxiety by seeing there is a process at work, it is a tool that contributes nothing.

Why do I say nothing? Well, the timeline only reports what the querying author already knows. You are in the queue. You are not rejected, yet. You have a request for more materials. Query Tracker sends you messages about all that.

The timeline can’t tell you if the agent has stuck your query in a maybe pile. Or, if so, when they might make a decision on it. It can’t tell you when an agent will look at your query.

In short, it is not the crystal ball I first thought it might be. It can be useful to show past behaviour on the part of the agent in regard to their inbox. So, I’ve relegated the timeline to a more research-related tool with the major caveat that the previous record is no guarantee of future performance.

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