Monday, September 28, 2015

QUERIES BY THE NUMBERS (Or, why I haven’t responded to your query letter yet)

Don’t hate me because I’m behind in answering your query. It’s not personal; I have thousands of unread queries in my in-box. Not because I’m lazy or I’m inept or I hate writers—just because I got 1000 queries my first week as an agent and they’ve kept on flooding my in-box ever since.

And I am not alone. In my unofficial survey of agents who actually consider unsolicited queries (not everyone does), I gathered enough data (in an admittedly non-scientific manner) to offer up the following statistics regarding queries. These are the odds you are up against when you send a query:

      The average agent gets 5,000 to 10,000 queries a year
      The typical agent represents 30 to 50 clients
      Which makes the best case scenario in terms of your query resulting in representation: .01% chance
      And the worst case scenario: .003% chance

What’s the takeaway here? Don’t rely on queries alone. Network with agents, editors, and your fellow writers at conferences and genre association meetings; press your published pals for referrals. Find other means of pitching your work; relying on queries alone is a risky proposition.

And whatever you do, don’t get peeved at publishing professionals who 1) don’t respond; or 2) don’t respond in the way in which you would prefer. Give us a break. We are drowning in inquiries, and we don’t get paid to read queries. We get paid if and when we sell our clients’ work.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’ve got some queries to read….

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At October 1, 2015 at 5:13 PM , Blogger gd said...

Paula, short and to the point blogs leave no room for ifs, ands, or buts! What awesome high school training you must have had :)!

Good to know agents are people too.


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