How Many Agents to Query

  • By: Jessica Faust | Date: Sep 08 2022

I often see people post that they planned to stop querying after 100 agents or they queried 300 agents. I’m a little amazed and confused by both of these numbers. They feel very perfectly round to me and random. Mostly though, it feels like authors aren’t always using their time in the best way. Instead of querying the best agents, no matter how many that might be, they feel like they need quantity. Which I don’t think is the best way to start a career.

One hundred agents is a great goal. If there are 100 successful, ethical agents you can work with in your genre. I’m not sure, in any genre, that really exists.

Getting Your Numbers

So how many agents do you query and how do you get your numbers? Research. Before deciding that you need to query 100 agents, or dig back in and research until you hit 300, do your research.

As you’re writing your book make the list of agents who represent books in your genre and who you want to query. Honestly, 100 should be the absolute cap, but in most cases, I think you’re going to be somewhere around 50. And then you’re done.

In other words, instead of planning how many, plan who and accept whatever number that might be.

It’s Not About the Numbers

The important thing about searching for and finding an agent is that you find someone who is reputable and with good connections. Also, you are querying people who can represent you and your work. I can tell when an author is getting to the end of their list and now just desperately querying. They haven’t looked at what I represent and are sending me YA mystery because, well, even if I don’t do YA I do mystery. It’s a waste of time. The author’s and mine. Mostly the author’s though since it takes more time for them to query than it does for me to reject.

It’s ok to quit querying a book. It doesn’t mean you’ve quit or given up. It means that, like most authors, it’s going to take you more than one book to get an agent and get published. You can still send out 300 queries. It just might take a few books to get there.




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2 responses to “How Many Agents to Query”

  1. Avatar Kathryn Faye says:

    I have a question. I have a novel that eventually led to an offer of representation but my agent and I split almost three years ago amicably. Now, when I used to get requests for this novel, I can’t get any bites…only form rejections. Do you know why that is? I’ve heard so many tales of authors formerly represented by agents get new agents in less than a year but I’m going on three years now. Is it just because of the change in market? Should I shelve that book and query another? I never understood why some agented authors got snapped up right away after leaving their agent but others languished and it does harm my ability to believe in myself as a writer.

  2. Avatar Chris Riker says:

    Kathryn — There’s a mass exodus from the publishing industry, thanks to monopolistic practices by Amazon. Agents have hit the hills, too. Keep trying, or consider self-publishing. The latter is a full-time profession, and not easy.