Pub Rants

A Very Nice Literary Agent Indulges in Polite Rants About Queries, Writers, and the Publishing Industry

15 Out of 2,625 & Friday Funnies

STATUS: Tomorrow is a holiday so I won’t be blogging. Have a great 4th!

What’s playing on the iPod right now? HOUNDS OF LOVE by Kate Bush

Oops. Perhaps I should have clarified yesterday’s statistics because requesting 15 sample pages from 52 queries sounds pretty great.

That is until you hear the explanation. Be forewarned, the real statistics are daunting.

So yesterday I read 52 queries. That is true. However, these 52 queries were set aside for me to read out of three weeks’ worth of queries.

On average, the agency gets 100 to 150 email queries a day. So in the last 21 days, we received 2,625 queries (using an average of 125 queries a day). Out of those 2,625 queries, Julie and Sara set aside 52 queries for me to read and review.

Out of those 52 queries, I asked for sample pages from 15 writers. In reality, I just basically asked for 15 sample pages from 2,625 queries.

Now before you die of heart failure, that’s probably not wholly accurate either. I know Sara has also been requesting sample pages and I actually don’t know how many she has requested from queries over the last 3 weeks.

So I’m guessing the total is more like 30 or 40 requests for sample pages out of 2,625 queries.

Now you know why I’ve spent so much time teaching you folks how to write that silly query pitch blurb!

And because I can’t leave you in doom and gloom right before the holiday weekend, just remember that ‘re’ is a drop of golden sun…

This put a huge smile on my face. I hope it does the same for you!

More than 200 dancers performed their version of “Do Re Mi”, in the Central Railway Station of Antwerp. With just 2 rehearsals, it is a promotion stunt for a Belgian television program where they are looking for someone to play the leading role in the musical of “The Sound of Music”.

30 Responses

  1. Aimee K. Maher said:

    Not sure why, but watching the kids in the video come down the stairs gave me frog in my throat. So cute.

    (I’m a wimp)

    I wish everyone could be that full of life. Great video.

  2. Blee Bonn said:

    Whew, I read your post earlier and thought, wow – it was a good week!

    The video was absolutely awesome – thanks for sharing it with us.

  3. Hannah said:

    I was in Antwerp when they filmed that…saw a commotion around the station but tragically didn’t go and investigate until it was all over! That’ll teach me to put essay writing over satisfying my curiosity!

    The numbers are ever so slightly less positive now…not that it matters because after all, if something is good enough it’ll be picked up no matter how many other queries it’s mixed in with!

  4. sara said:

    Oh man, I was liking the odds of 15/52 a whole lot more! LOL! Goes to show how your hook needs to be completely, overwhelmingly awesome to stand out against those odds.

    What makes a YA paranormal book stand out against such fierce competition? Do you see that market dropping anytime soon?

  5. Kristin Laughtin said:

    I thought that 15/52 seemed unusually high, even for a generous requester. Now I think we can all go back to freaking out over, and trying to figure out, how to be part of that less than one percent who even get a partial request.

  6. Tricia J. O'Brien said:

    Thanks for the feel-good video. Made me want to do the happy dance. And what a nice way to start the holiday weekend without worrying over impossible odds and dreary times.
    Have a wonderful weekend.

  7. Diva Donna said:

    The video hit the spot. Happy Holiday.
    The statistic info also hit a different spot. Being in the sample pages group and not moving forward yesterday was discouraging. Now its kind of exciting. Being somewhere within the 30 out of 2,600 doesn’t feel so bad.
    Also the explanation of the categories in yesterday’s post proved very illuminating since I write YA.
    Thanks for the look into your world.

  8. Sara Creasy said:

    I’ve watched this movie every Christmas since I was about five… how could I have missed that hip-hop break in the middle? And what would Mother Superior think?

  9. Don Gwinn said:

    Huh . . . so what you’re saying is, Julie and Sara are pitiless rejecting machines . . . and you’re just plain easy.

  10. RCWriterGirl said:

    I, too, had thought 15 out of 52 was high.

    I didn’t realize you had a filter system of others who read queries before you even looked at them. So, I wonder if having a contact(i.e. “so-and-so you know recommended I contact you”) makes a difference. It sounds like those things get into your in-pile even if they’re not something you accept. And you even recommended them to others!

    The finding an agent process has so many layers!

    Another informative post, Ms. Nelson.

  11. carla said:

    No, Kristin is not easy, and Sara is not a rejection machine. (After reading 52 queries in one evening, you might be confused and forget the 2600–or think that is what you are doing at the time)

    Happy 4th of July. I am going to beautiful downtown Jackpot, Nevada–the Fun Spot South of the Border. One of my friends lives there. She has a job at the casino counting the money that comes out of the slot machines.

  12. Tori said:

    The only thing this makes me feel is more detremined. Ok, maybe a little freaked out as well, but I’m holding up ok.
    I already knew that agents request very little of the queries they receive. But there are many reasons for that. One: The writer sent a project to an agent that does not deal with that particular genre. Two: Story well written, but perhaps not right for the agent. Three: Query or sample pages were utter crap. And on it goes.
    Yes, the odds are against us, but when you think about it, it’s not as nearly as bad as we think it is.
    All we need to do is focus on writing the best dang book we have in us. Then worry about agents.

  13. Andrew said:

    Being a bit of a number nerd I had a thought….I read somewhere (Probably here or Nathan’s, Jessica’s or Janet’s blogs) that a high percentage of queries are rejected straight out because the queryer basically didn’t format or mentioned they’d killed their parents recently or put in a copy of their acceptance speech for the Booker prize – or some other horrendous faux pas. These mistakes are erased by reading agent blogs and seeing what makes them run howling for a pillow into which they can scream out the demons in their minds telling them to find said queryer and dismember their family.

    My point being that to temper that staggering 99.5% rejection stat (15 from 2615). So in essence if 75% screw up their query with poor formatting, etc, that means it’s actually 15-in-654 or 1-in-44.

    I like those stats much better

    Word verification: Gnaei – the noise a gnat makes when it sneezes

  14. Marsha Sigman said:

    Ok I laughed and had tears in my eyes over the video. Just when I think I am a hardened cynic….

    Thanks for clarifying the numbers but I would love to know what caught your eye on the ones that you did choose.

    Verification Word: unpar-Not up to par. Try again.

  15. Mechelle Fogelsong said:

    Speaking as a reader, as well as a writer, let’s all be thankful agents are picky. I mean, what would it be like if half of those 2600 queries turned into published books? Egad. What tripe would be on the shelves at Barnes & Noble?

    So far this summer, I’ve picked up and read 15 or 20 published books, read them all, and have enjoyed each read. Agents filter for the best interest of all.

  16. Mariana said:

    Oh, dear… I really fooled myself on that. Thanks for the clarification, though. And have a great holiday!

  17. Akisej said:

    That video impressed me so much that I choked when I tried to laugh!

    I love reading your blog. It motivates me every time I read it. 🙂

  18. Richard Bartle said:

    Were those 2,625 queries from people who had never pitched before, or from the same people who write you a query letter every three weeks in the hope that THIS next time they’ll figure out the secret formula that leads to a request for a sample?

    I ask so I know how long to wait before trying to trick you into thinking I haven’t pitched to you before.


  19. Nicole said:

    (I missed this post, haha).

    I was so close too! Well, at least I get to feel special, being one of the 15 to be asked for pages (though now that I think about it, I believe I sent my query to Sara, so maybe I wasn’t one of the 15).

    Either way, seeing the stats gives me a boost of hope anyway (even if the answer was eventually “No thanks.”). 🙂

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