Pub Rants

15 Out Of 52

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STATUS: I’m actually planning to stay home from the office tomorrow to do a reading day. The trick is to not check email….

What’s playing on the iPod right now? SATELLITE by Guster

Tonight I read 52 queries.

I asked for sample pages from the following

1. two folks who had met me in person at a conference.
2. two fantasy queries that had caught my attention.
3. four YA paranormal queries that sound interesting but will really have to blow me away in this crowded market
4 . two literary novels that will have to be all about the writing
5. one military SF novel that was really very cool (I just wish the market was stronger in SF right now. I did just sell an SF novel a couple of months ago but that wasn’t an easy task.)
6. one historical romance query that had a unique premise
7. one middle grade novel that didn’t have anything to do with paranormal (who knew that was a plus?)
7. one project recommended to me by another agent (whom I knew of but don’t know well) so interesting
8. and one contemporary romance novel

I also respond ed personally to two queries that were for crime novels because the author had been referred to the agency by people I knew. Why I came to mind for crime novels is beyond me. I don’t represent them. Still I did write back explaining why I was passing on looking at pages. I also recommended a few folks who actually do crime fiction so maybe that will help.

And now I’m ready to call it a night.

20 Responses

  1. mikandra said:


    I have a question for ‘the publishing industry’ and don’t really know where else to put it, so here goes.

    Item #5: a military SF novel that was really cool… but SF is hard to sell.

    Any idea why? Are there any signs of some sort of comeback? What should poor suffering unpublished SF writers do? Start writing fantasy or self-publish out of sheer misery/frustration?


  2. Kat said:

    Wow, 15 out of 52, not bad odds. I wonder if the pages will live up to the queries, or if all these helpful publishing blogs are teaching aspiring authors to write amazing queries… with disappointing manuscripts.

    Here’s hoping you find that needle in the haystack!

  3. Watery Tart said:

    I’m impressed by the odds too. I’d love you to repost this 6 weeks from now with how many move on once you’ve read more… just to give us a feel.

  4. Alexis Grant said:

    This was interesting… Something I wish agents would do more often.

    So now I’m wondering: How many of those writers will you end up representing??

  5. Marsha Sigman said:

    What makes you choose one YA paranormal over another since the market is so crowded at this time? Is is the query or did they have a more original idea? I really love seeing what grabs your attention!

  6. Jessica said:

    Thanks for sharing! I’m with the others; I’d love to see an update after you’ve gone through these, to see which partials garner requests for fulls, what leads you to say “no” on others, etc. Interesting stats!

  7. Anonymous said:

    I don’t find this encouraging at all, though it’s no fault of the agent of course!

    My interpretation is if you’re not lucky enough to hit a trend at the right time (which is impossible to predict) when you query, it doesn’t matter how excellent your story is and all that time and energy you put into it is for nothing.

    Makes seem mighty appealing.

  8. carla said:

    Hello everyone. I am one of those 52 queries who received a standard rejection form. I would like to thank you for the feedback this morning explaining why you asked for sample chapters from other, far more experienced writers. This tells me that I have selected the agent I need to help me. I have NO credentials! I need to attend writer’s conferences and contests and what-nots.
    In other words, I need to finish my “homework.”

  9. Anonymous said:

    If you received an e-mail query with 10 sample pages included (let’s say that’s what you’ve asked for) and then request the entire manuscript, what would you be thinking? How long do you think it might take you to contact the author?

  10. Kristin Laughtin said:

    That’s a lot of queries from one batch!

    I’m surprised you’re finding SF hard to sell. I thought, based on how many new titles I’ve seen coming out and random tidbits from other agents’ blogs, that genre fiction, and particularly SF, is one of the better sellers right now. Perhaps, like everything else, it’s taken a downturn of late.

  11. mtz322 said:

    Notice the news about bigger publishers jumping on the erotica bandwagon? If they have to drop numbers is lower selling genres to do it, well, such is life.
    Meanwhile, small publishers and e-publishers are hungry for more good SF.

  12. Mariana said:

    Thanks for sharing that info! I’m with others wishing for a follow up in near future.