Articles Tagged with #querystats

Wonking Out on Query Stats

I will be closing to submissions at the end of the month to catch up. For those of you who like to wonk out on #querystats (thank you Patrick for the easy to access stats on QueryManager), this post is for you.

I opened at the end of March and have already received nearly 1500 queries. Although the largest amount came in on the first few days of opening, it’s since averaged out to about 20 a day. If the trend continues, when I shut down my query box on May 31, I will have received over 2,000 queries.

Rainbow’s ploy to get me to stop working.
  • I’m usually able to filter out about eighty percent within a few days:
    • Most aren’t ready for me, about 10-14 or ~sixty percent of daily submissions
      • Often the pitch is not focused. It relies on vague rhetorical questions for tension or makes grandiose statements like “this will be an instant bestseller” or it’s just confusing. Whether it’s due to a lack of resources, inexperience, or laziness, I know these authors aren’t in a place for me to partner with, and when I give the sample a quick glance, this is confirmed. But as these authors are often vulnerable first-timers, any feedback I give may do unintentional harm, so these get a form pass.
      • Sometimes the pitch is fine or even great, but the sample isn’t quite there. These will get a note that says the concept intrigued me, but the sample didn’t pull me in as I had hoped. The tricky thing about this response, is I hope it inspires the writer to keep going, polishing and honing their craft, not discourage them. So I try to use it when I think the writer can handle the response, i.e. has a bit of experience, they are about to level up, or would appreciate knowing their sample isn’t quite working.
    • 2 to 4 are not my taste or not in my wheelhouse, ~fifteen percent of daily submissions
      • These are most often picture books (PB). There is understandably confusion about this, as I do represent authors who write PBs. But I only sign projects in the upper age range, and sometimes said clients also write picture books. So 99% of PBs will be quickly passed on.
      • Sometimes these are nonfiction proposals. I’m newly exploring the idea of representing nonfiction, again because I have clients who write in the fiction space and are crossing over. But I’m extremely selective and will either pass the submission on to one of the agents at KC&A who do a lot of nonfiction, or will send a form rejection as I’m not comfortable enough in the genre to give feedback.
      • Sometimes the sub is simply something I’m not interested in. There is no way for the submitting author to know this, and if I state it, an author may interpret it as a professional take, i.e. how the market is leaning. But I don’t represent the entire market and there are other agents that will feel differently, so these get a quick form pass from me as well.
    • 1 or 2 are inauthentic, ~five percent of daily submissions
      • Writers who exaggerate their resume to an extreme, falsely claiming to have had best-sellers, big name support for their book, film and multiple agents interested. They are more interested in being famous than writing. Form pass.
      • Market chasers, writing in a genre because they think it’s easy money, not because they love and know the genre. Form pass.
      • Writers attempting a take that requires nuanced experience they don’t have, i.e. someone writing magical realism without understanding the cultural significance behind the genre. These are tricky and tend to take more time to review, but they also get a form pass.
  • That leaves twenty percent that stay in my inbox, which at this point is 250 submissions and if things stay on track, 400 submissions when I close at the end of the month. This is not yet my maybe pile even. For now I’ve kept them for one of the following reasons:
    • the writer intrigued me
    • the concept/pitch intrigued me
    • the sample writing caught me
  • A submission has to hit all three of those factors to go into the maybe pile, and the rest will be passed on, hopefully with an encouraging note, but not guaranteed (timing-wise, on average, one of these passes requires the same amount of time filtering the ~14 quick passes does). This stage will leave about ten percent of the submissions in my inbox, ~200. Half of these will be further narrowed down:
    • Too close to something I already represent
    • Passed on to colleagues
    • Upon further reading the sample doesn’t hold up as well as it did in the beginning
    • The promise of the pitch ultimately isn’t met in the actual manuscript
    • I know the manuscript needs work, but have no vision on how to steer the editorial
    • I don’t have a clear picture on who the target audience is, comp titles, how to pitch it to publishers, and it didn’t gut-punch me enough to take a chance on it anyway
    • The author gets an offer of representation, I tend to step aside on those because I don’t want to rush my decision
    • The author gets an offer of publication from a smaller press, I tend to step aside on those or pass them on to my colleagues
  • That still leaves ~5 percent, which in this case is around 100 submissions, whew. Wish me luck!