Pub Rants

One Night of Queries

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I read 150 email queries last night so I’m a little cross-eyed today.

I did take some notes. Out of those 150 queries, about 30 of them were for young adult projects. About every other YA query featured a portal into another world. I kid you not.

I said “no” to all the portal projects. Sorry.

In fact, last night was a tough go with the old queries. Out of the 150 I read, I actually only asked for sample pages for five projects.

That’s a little low—even for me. The number is usually more around 25 requests out of 150 queries.

My agency information must be posted somewhere inappropriate because a lot of queries last night (an unusually high number) were for projects I don’t represent—thrillers, self-help nonfiction, etc.

It’s too bad because it eats up my time. There are a lot of writers who did their research, have a project that fits my list, and queried me appropriately. If I could somehow magically delete all the inappropriate ones, boy, that would knock the numbers down.

I wish. I’m responding to queries from two weeks ago and there are about 700 queries in that inbox right now. Not a happy or pretty sight.

Good thing the Olympics are on and I want to stay home in front of the Telly.

(Yep, you guessed it. I read queries while watching sports all the time. My fav combo is football and doing queries. I always get behind in my responses when the Broncos season ends.)

Here’s another helpful hint. Don’t change your email address during the query process. It’s awfully nice that you send me an update that says your email has changed, but do you think I’m really going to search out your original query and make a note to use the new email address instead when I respond?

Nope. I’m just going to hit reply to the query, send off my response, and be done. If it bounces back, well, it will just get deleted.

If catastrophe happens and your email has to change during the query process, simply resend your email query.

That way you’ll get a response.

36 Responses

  1. Lizzy said:

    Dearest Agent Kristin,

    What is your definition of portal? Does it include tornados and magic treehouses and such things? (I’m sorry to bother you with the question, since I know you prefer to stay out of the comments.)

  2. doc-t said:

    okay.. sooooo.. what if i sent a query in. on a laptop!

    I mail in the laptop and it has a selection of movies and sporting events. the agent can watch that AND read my query at the some time..

    would I get bonus points?

  3. GirlGrownUp, Still Dreaming said:

    GirlGrownUp takes a deep breath, sighs.

    Seriously, though, thanks for the honest, agent perspective, even if it is a little disheartening for we writer wannabees slaving away at the computer everyday.
    GirlGrownUp, Still Dreaming

  4. Anonymous said:

    I like to read portal stories. It’s fun to read about someone out of time and place, and it also gives me someone to identify with.

    Harry Potter, anyone?

  5. Faith said:

    I’ve been editing an e-book all afternoon. My eyes are crossing and blurry.

    I get a lot of dumb stuff editing horror and romance for WCP. I can only imagine what an agent receives.

  6. The Beautiful Schoolmarm said:

    I’ve been editing my own writing (and avoiding grading eassays) during the Westminster Dog Show. All while trying to beat an overactive muse into submission. The TV provides such a wonderful backdrop for things like that. I do my best artwork when the TV is on.

    Hey Lizzy, I would guess that she’s counting anything that takes someone from the real world into a fantasy world.

  7. Eileen said:

    I feel positively sporty during the Olympics- even if I am sitting on my rear with popcorn and reports to edit. Something about all that fleece and lycra. 700 queries? Yikes.

  8. Bob said:

    You actually do something further on 25 out of 150? You are certainly more forgiving than I, or you are getting a better grade of queries. Mine is about 1 out of 125. Good luck!!

  9. kathie said:

    Sounds like an intense work session. I can identify with working while watching sports…sorry about the Broncos. I’m from Pittsburgh, so…you can imagine the rest.

    Love your site.

  10. Duke_of_Earle said:

    It must get awfully easy to become jaded when you get 150 queries in a day or two. You know… glance at the first couple of lines and say, “Nah, not this one.” Even at that it will take an hour or two to send off the form “No thanks” email. All based on the ol’ query letter and maybe the synopsis.

    Doc-t’s question is valid, in a way. What does it take to get noticed, or to get “bonus points?” A “well-written query letter?” No, too subjective! The same query will get a response from one agent and yet not from another. And how much depends on the mood of the agent that day, and the volume of queries that arrive on the same day as yours?

    What a business!


  11. Shelli Stevens said:

    Wow, I suddenly feel very honored that you requested to see some sample pages. I mean, I was honored before. But 25 out of 150? You just made my day.

    And I’m a little stunned at how many queries you get a day. Is it that way with all agents I wonder? Sheeze, I’d break up my day with the Olympics, too!

  12. Wesley Smith said:

    And I’m a little stunned at how many queries you get a day. Is it that way with all agents I wonder?
    That may be a bit higher than normal for her (or may not–what do I know?) because either or Publishers Marketplace has her listed as actively looking for new manuscripts.

  13. tcastleb said:

    She was mentioned on Miss Snark’s blog which has a lot of traffic, and is where I found her. Plus, the count is probably high because e-queries are easy. No printing, envelopes, stamping or trips to the post office. And I swear I not only read the guidelines, but queried an appropriate genre that doesn’t involve portals. That’s probably a couple bonus points by itself.

  14. Anonymous said:

    I guess that doesn’t bode well for those of us who did our research, looked at sales, titles, carefully read submission requirements, before hitting the Send button, and sent a query in the last few weeks.

    700 is a staggering number to me. I wonder if it is this way everywhere.

  15. Sha'el, Princess of Pixies said:

    Well, let me tell ya this. I send off my material to nice miss agent. I emailed. I said, “Hey, nice miss agent, I’ve totally rewritten since you saw this a bazillion months ago. Can I send?”

    Kindly Miss Nice Agent says, “if you want to.” I do. I send. I send the wrong file! I send the file with the warts and misspellings. Dang, I should have deleted it! It takes me two weeks or so to figure this out. But, I finally do. I send the right file and an apology.

    I’m under medicated, upset, and sick. My apology has at least two misspellings and a huge grammar mistake. Will Miss Nice Agent care? Nope. She’ll just think, “Oh my, this person’s a twit.”

    I’ve written it off. It’ll be deleted. And, I’m in hiding. Look for me in my closet!

    I am amazed that agents remain sane when dealing with the likes of me.

  16. Eileen said:

    From what I hear 700 hundred isn’t that far off. After I got up the guts to ask my agent posting signing with her she indicated their agency got on average 500/600 queries a week. It’s amazing they don’t develop a phobia of paper.

  17. Anonymous said:

    That’s why some agents don’t do queries by e-mail.
    People don’t bother checking to see what an agent is interested in, merely if they can save a trip to the post office.

  18. Anonymous said:

    All based on the ol’ query letter and maybe the synopsis.

    Yeah. All the more reason to make sure yours is phenomenal.

    Doc-t’s question is valid, in a way. What does it take to get noticed, or to get “bonus points?” A “well-written query letter?” No, too subjective!

    Exactly, Subjective. Because guess what? It’s also subjective when a reader walks into a bookstore and out of the thousands of books in the store, coughs up the dough for yours. Why shouldn’t this be subjective? You want not subjective, get into science, not literature. With subjective, you just keep trying agents until you get one or more that subjectively thinks you’re the bomb.

  19. Anonymous said:

    Agent Query has you listed for Commercial Fiction, and I assume that writers take that to mean “thriller”.

  20. Anonymous said:

    Perhaps the website needs a look at?

    I will bold the two contradicting statements it makes.

    We are currently seeking:

    Literary (with a commercial bent)
    Commercial mainstream
    Women’s fiction
    Chick lit (all types including paranormal, mystery, young adult etc.)
    Romance (all types including contemporary, historical, suspense, thriller, romantic comedy, paranormal/time travel, science fiction/futuristic, and fantasy with romantic elements)
    Science Fiction (think Dan Simmons rather than Piers Anthony)
    Young Adult/Middle Grade (must be high concept and have a commercial bent)
    Narrative Nonfiction on all topics (such as Seabiscuit, The Perfect Storm, or
    Friday Night Lights)

    We do not look at submissions for screenplays, short story collections, poetry, horror, mystery (unless chick lit), thriller, children’s picture books, any nonfiction except as listed above, or material for the Christian/Inspirational market.

  21. Cindy Procter-King said:

    Is it just me, or does anyone else wants to hit back a beer whenever they read the title, “Pub Rants”?

    Kristin, I think just starting this blog itself will get you many extra unsuitable queries, unfortunately.


  22. a writer said:

    Anonymous 11:20, the part you’re missing is that the “thriller” that falls under romance means exactly that: Romantic thrillers. Linda Howard. Lisa Gardner. Bombshells. Romantic Thrillers for the romance and women’s fiction markets.

    Straight thrillers are a different animal entirely.

  23. Anonymous said:

    Anonymous, there is a difference between a straight Thriller and a Romantic Thriller. But why nit-pick? This agent doesn’t rep straight Thrillers. There’s probably many that do.

  24. Anonymous said:

    Lizzy, I’ll answer for you. If you want agent Kristin to represent you, don’t use a portal of any kind, toilet or otherwise. Period. Even the most unusual, never-before-done portal idea will get you a rejection from her, if for no other reason than SHE’S FED UP WITH THEM!

  25. Robin said:

    From Nephele Tempest’s blog:

    For those of you interested, Dorchester is currently seeking manuscripts for a new line of romances, due to be published in 2007. (The name of this line of Speculative Romance is yet to be established.)

    To be packaged with modern anime or manga-style covers, these romances will be targeted toward a younger, hipper audience than old-style traditionals. While the content can be of any subgenre of alternative romance (paranormal, futuristic, fantasy or other) the books will feature a young woman (18-25) stolen from her normal life into an alternate universe-a universe that challenges all she thought she knew. The hero will usually be in a position of some power, or in the know in the new world. (As one example, imagine The Matrix, if Neo were female and Trinity was male.)

    In order to maintain suspense and provide for a slow revelation of the facets of the created world, these books should be primarily if not entirely written from the heroine’s point of view. Narrative voice should be particularly strong and identifiable, almost noir-like, but despite this, the primary focus should remain on the development of the relationship between the hero and heroine in the new world. Think of these books as combining all that is best with the Chick Lit, paranormal and romantic suspense subgenres. Manuscripts should be 85,000 to 95,000 words in length.

    It’s a whole line of portal stories!!! Woohoo!

  26. Anonymous said:

    As others have pointed out, this is one agent’s opinion on portals. Nowhere does she say she’s speaking for all of publishing. There are probably hoards of agents who just love a good portal story, and at least one publisher that does. Pitch those agents/that publisher. Don’t pitch Kristin. Fairly easy concept.

  27. Sha'el, Princess of Pixies said:

    Dear Agent Kristin,

    Have I got a book for you! A dyslexic taxi cab driver starts seeing strange things in the bathroom mirror in Macey’s. It turns out she can actually step through that mirror into an alternative world, but only if she puts both hands against the mirror, shouts “flush now” to whomever is in stall three, and they oblige with a quick jerk on the handle.

    In this other world, she finds she has to collect “port keys” to get back home. Turns out that these aren’t port keys as in one of the Harry Potter books, but actual keys to Port Authority restrooms. Finding all seven of the little brass keys that went missing sometime between the Johnstown flood and the great night of terror in Flushing is her only hope of return.

    She briefly considers staying in this alternative universe, but finds it peopled by the utterly backwards, plus a few talking mice, chess pieces, and a mushroom eating Syncope. Syncope’s are related to dragons, but they aren’t allowed to speak until chapter 12 in a moderate sized novel or chapter 14 in a remarkably long one. Since fiction in unknown on the other side of the glass, they never speak.

    Oh one more thing. This alternative universe is forested! If one looks closely at the brand on everyone’s clothing, they can see Wyerhouser written in very small letters.

    So what do you think? We gotta deal? Send me a check please. I know you can afford it. Take it out of my profits. This will sell a million copies.

  28. Miss Snark said:

    My portal just shot me over here, i demand a refund.

    I’ve found people look at ONE listing, say on AgentQuery, and don’t look further (like at the website).

    I’ve had to change my listing at Agent Query a couple times to quit getting e-submissions.

    700? Man oh man. Gin time!