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Query Recap

It’s been a while since I’ve done a recap on the queries I’m getting, but since I’ve been inundated in 2010, I thought it would be a good time to take a look at what I’m getting and how I’m responding. These are the results of two days of query reading. That does not mean I read every query I received in two days, but this is just the number I was able to respond to.

Total Number of Queries: 40

Fiction: 26

Nonfiction: 14

Total Number I Rejected: 40

Total Number of Requests for Partials: 0

Total Number of Requests for Fulls: 0

Total Number I Deleted Because It Listed 25+ Agents in the “to” Section of the email: 1

Total Number of Queries Written in First Person: 1

Rejections in which I Gave Advice: 4
(The advice I give on queries is usually fairly general, but can range from a variety of things: it could be suggesting that the author learn how to write a proper query, it could be suggesting the author work to write a stronger query, it could be telling the author that the idea is more appropriate for a magazine article than a book, etc.)

Total Number of Thank-Yous in Response to Rejections: 5

Requests for More Information, Advice, or a Query Critique: 1

Queries for Books (or Book Proposals) That Were Not Complete: 2

Duplicate Queries the Author Accidentally Submitted Twice: 3

Requeries for Work I Had Previously Rejected After Reading Partials: 2

Queries Sent or Addressed to the Wrong Agent: 1

Jessica

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23 comments

  1. Jessica – Do you LIKE to receive a thank you e-mail from an author whose partial or full you've rejected, or do you prefer to have all communication end with your rejection? While the sting of a 'no' really hurts on a full submission, I still like to thank the agent for expressing interest in the project and spending his/her time on it. But I don't want to be a pain. Thanks for bringing this point up.

  2. Although I've read agents don't like a thank you it takes real restraint to not to send a quick thank you. Blame my mother it was her rule that is so ingrained in me she would probably come back and haunt me if she knew I didn't send one.
    Question: Is there any time of year that is better to query?

  3. Thanks for reports like these – I always enjoy them!

    There’s still 169 in my inbox, none older than 13 days.

    Does that mean I should resend my query from February 5th? (I did get an automated note that you were out of the office, so I must have used the right address.)

  4. I guess it still surprises me, for some unknown reason, that people actually send out a mass email to every agent on earth.

    I'm doing good to even send it out to 1 agent a month… 🙂

    That's my OCD side taking over, trying to make sure that everything is perfect after I recieve a rejection…

  5. There really isn't any reason to send out queries one at a time. A single rejection doesn't tell you anything. I'd say once you start querying, you should send out a minimum of 7 to 10.

    –I guess it still surprises me, for some unknown reason, that people actually send out a mass email to every agent on earth.

    I'm doing good to even send it out to 1 agent a month… 🙂

    That's my OCD side taking over, trying to make sure that everything is perfect after I recieve a rejection…–

  6. Please note that I've been out of the office and the statistic of how old the queries were and how many I have has drastically changed (see last Friday's post). Please resend only based on that query status post.

    thanks

  7. I'm curious about the thank-you thing as well. Do you like thank-yous, or are they annoyances that clutter up your inbox? I typically send a thank-you for personalized feedback on the manuscript, but I don't reply at all to form rejections.

  8. That's cool that you give advice in response to queries, Jessica. Not many agents say they do that – it's really nice of you, thanks.

    I have to admit, I don't like query stats. They always scare me on some level.

    But I suppose, if I were on the other side, and having to read so many queries, they would scare me, too, but in a different way. 🙂

  9. I asked Janet Reid this too – how many of those queries were well written, by writers who had taken the time to research you and had read your guidelines?

    I keep asking this because I'm wondering (as a fiction writing newbie) why, if you spend all that time on writing a book, do you then not spend time on writing good queries? When the time comes, I'd rather know that my book is rejected on the basis of something other than a badly-written query.

  10. In my experince, a lot of writers who send out bad queries do spend a lot of time on them and think they're great. (And a lot of people who have written terrible novels think they're great too).

    Again, in my experience, the people who are great writers and have produced strong novels spend a lot of time on their queries too.

    Personally, I do a lot of drafts of my queries and give them to a lot of people to read. And everytime I've sent out a query to agents, I get a 25-40% request to see more. In email queries, I believe in including the entire first chapter because I figure the query will grab them and I want them to be able to read the first chapter right away.

    –I keep asking this because I'm wondering (as a fiction writing newbie) why, if you spend all that time on writing a book, do you then not spend time on writing good queries? When the time comes, I'd rather know that my book is rejected on the basis of something other than a badly-written query.–

  11. Anonymous, thanks for replying to my post. Obviously the time you put into crafting your queries pays off. I suspect that queries are an art to be learned alongside fiction writing – and I know that I'm still in my apprenticeship and probably will be for some time.

    And to think I used to imagine that writing the book was the only problem… these terrific agent blogs are such a help!

  12. I started to do thank yous, but then realized the agent probably got enough email as it was, so I stopped after about 6 or so.

    Dunno if agents like them or not (probably just depends on the agent), but I figure everyone else has other things they could be doing.

  13. Personally, I wouldn't thank an agent for reading and rejecting my manuscript unless they went out of their way to offer some useful advice or otherwise did something that made me feel I genuinely had somethng to thank them for.

  14. Don't send a thank you note after a query rejection, but do send a thank you note after a rejection of sample chapters. That's my simple rule.

  15. Total Number of Queries Written in First Person: 1

    What? Out of 40, only 1 was first person? (I.e. similar: "My name is NN and I have written a book"?)

    Does that mean queries -should- be written in third person? (I.e. "NN has written a book filled with drama and suspense") That seems so odd, I hate people talking about themselves in third person. Is this standard procedure when querying an agent??

    Or is it just missing a "not", queries NOT written in 1st person?

  16. You know what's also dignified? Not whingeing about the queries you get but thanking the Lord that you get any. So not everyone is as bright as you might like, which is why you have a form rejection that takes precisely no time at all to send out. Yes, we all hate whatever work we do, the customer service representative hates the customer, the plumber hates the homeowner, the writer, I daresay, has nothing but contempt for the agent, but most of us have the wit to yammer about it out of earshot.

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