Pub Rants

A Year In Statistics

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STATUS: At 5 pm today, we are officially closed until Monday, January 4, 2010.

What’s playing on the iPod right now? CAROL OF THE BELLS by Mannheim Steamroller

What a crazy wrap up to the year! I won’t be blogging again until the New Year, but then I’ll be back and in rare ranting form! Here are the stats for 2009:

books sold

foreign rights deals done (and that includes several overseas auctions)
I had to update as we did 3 more foreign deals late on Friday!

number of new clients (Kristin & Sara combined)

estimated number of queries read and responded to (and yes, that is up from last year)

full manuscripts requested (down from last year)

number of projects currently on submission

major motion picture deals

new deals for previously published clients

1.3 million
number of copies in print for my bestselling series this year

number of copies in print for my bestselling debut this year

number of copies in print for my bestselling sleeper hit

conferences attended (also includes BEA and London Book Fair)

number of New York Times Bestsellers

Number of books named to Publisher’s Weekly list of top books of the year

number of physical holiday cards sent

Number of electronic holiday cards sent

number of Starbucks eggnog chai consumed in the last week

number of late nights reading on the couch with Chutney

number of great days loving my job

Have a safe and happy New Year. I’m out!

50 Responses

  1. K. E. Carson said:

    The last statistic made me smile. That’s what makes a great agent, when they really love their job, through the good and bad. Hppy holidays Kristin and have a happy new year.

  2. Sarah Skilton said:

    Congratulations on a wonderful 2009 and happy holidays to you and Sara! Enjoy the well-deserved break. Your list made me smile, especially the last one. It’s pretty clear from all that you give back with this blog that you love your job. Thanks for all the helpful, insider scoop this year 🙂

  3. Watery Tart said:

    In the spirit of the season I penned a little song I thought maybe you and your readers might enjoy…

    (to the tune of O Come All Ye Faithful)

    Oh, come all ye writers
    Desperate and reject-ed
    Oh come ye, oh come ye to Ha-ar lequin
    Come and pay money
    to have a book put in your hand

    But don’t think it will sell a one
    No, don’t think it will sell a one
    No don’t think it will sell a one
    Iiii—-iiiiiit’s a scam

    Nary a book store
    Will see your fancy co-ver

    No, don’t think it will sell a one
    No, don’t think it will sell a one
    No don’t think it will sell a one
    Iiii—-iiiiiit’s a scam

    Thank you for all your fabulous information and advice this year! You do a wonderful service for those of us trying to navigate this labyrinth.

  4. Krista G. said:

    Thanks for these stats, Kristin. I always like seeing how the numbers turned out.

    I take it, then, that none of your new clients’ books have sold yet (if you’ve sold 15 books and have made 15 new deals for previously published clients). Hmm. Or maybe I’m just interpreting this wrong…

    In any case, merry Christmas and happy Hanukkah. See you (er, read you) next year!

  5. _*Rachel*_ said:

    Fascinating statistics! Thanks for posting, and Merry Christmas to all!

    Watery Tart–that was amazing! Will you do a recording?

    WV: coffriv: What agents need before holidays.

  6. Cam Snow said:

    Wow, I don’t feel so bad about the form rejection I got from you now that I know your rejection rate is 99.984%.

    38000 queries/year = 104 queries/day every day for a year.

    Could you, pretty please with sugar on top, tell us how many partials/fulls you requested out of those 38k queries?

  7. cwilson284 said:

    You perform an amazing service by telling us these numbers. Although I was disappointed to receive from you a rejection to my query, these numbers really put that into perspective. Please keep doing what you do. And in my case I know I’ll find that agent in 2010 who loves what I do!

  8. Anonymous said:

    After all that you SEND HOLIDAY CARDS! Holy crap!!

    (as someone who’s recently left an agent who wouldn’t even answer my emails to tell me where my book had been sent, I’m flabbergasted at sending holiday cards… I think I need to get out of this business.)

  9. Jessica Marcantel said:

    It’s so great that you love your job so much! I’m new to this whole publishing thing, and man! I’ve read some horror stories.

    I’m glad my eternal optimism was rewarded when I stumbled on your site.

    Merry Christmas!

  10. Jille said:

    Kristin, you are fantastic. Got hooked on your blog this year and really appreciate all the advice and enthusiasm. Happy Holidays! Enjoy your well-deserved break.

  11. Vacuum Queen said:

    Well I’m going to ignore the 6 out of 38000 number and instead look positively to the 6 out of 55 (fulls) number. The glass is half full over here…

  12. Lane Diamond said:

    6 out of 38,000? Hmmm, I must admit that’s not terribly encouraging. Is the material that bad? Or are you that tight? Or is the industry that tight right now? With a 1-in-6,333 chance of acceptance, I can’t imagine why I should bother to submit. Sounds a little like playing the lottery, or am I missing something here?

  13. Christine said:

    What caught my eye was 38,000 queries read, 55 full manuscripts requested. Wow. That’s a lot to wrap an unpublished brain around.

    It looks like you had a fabulous year.

    Have a happy holiday season and a wonderful new year!

  14. Marshall Buckley said:

    Increadible stats. Seeing those numbers makes you realise just how hard it it to go from dream to reality.

    I’m happy to have representation, now just hope to take that next step to being published.

  15. Anonymous said:

    Wow. Looking at those stats, I feel really privileged that you even read my full ms, let alone decided to sign me up as one of those six writers. It’s only been a short amount of time so far, but I can honestly say that the attention I’ve received from your agency is more than I’ve ever received from any other (and I’ve had a few agents!). Thanks for the fantastic welcome and interest in me and my work. I’m so looking forward to working with you in 2010!

  16. Jeff Baird said:

    Congratulations first and foremost. I wish you many years of success and happy holidays to clear your brain.
    The blog has been very special for me in both learning and inspiration. I look forward to the “query game” with a submission next year. You don’t have to post this. Regardless of the outcome, your site and insight is wonderful.
    Thank you,

  17. Barbara's Spot on the Blog said:

    Kristen – I can’t say thank you enough for opening up that inside world of publishing. You’ve really opened my eyes and I feel I know a lot more about what’s going on.

    The stats are very interesting and give an excellent picture of the realities.

    Thank you again and have a Wonderful Merry Christmas 🙂

  18. Anonymous said:


    It’s not at all like the lottery. The lottery assumes all who play are on an equal playing field. This is very different. The numbers really don’t matter. The quality and timeliness of the writing does.

    I used to read queries and these numbers sound right on target. Unfortunately, (or fortunately) depending on how you look it, the vast majority of queries and submissions are just not very good. Of those that have strong writing, the story itself might not be fresh or engaging.

    Remember, if it was easy, everyone would do it.


  19. Diana said:

    *Gulp* I did the math, your acceptance rate is 0.016% of the number of queries that you received. Which makes the probability of a new writer landing an agent pretty slim.

    Only the truly dedicated and persistent writers will surmount those odds.

    Congratulations on the sales!

  20. Marie Lu said:

    Love that last statistic. 🙂 At the end of the day (or year), loving one’s job is the most important thing of all, and you clearly love being an agent with all the hard work you do for both your clients and for authors in general by giving out such generous info with your blog! Happy Holidays and a Happy New Year to you, too, and we’ll see you in 2010!

  21. Kristi said:

    What a great year!

    I especially LOVED the Starbucks statistic as I can totally related to that one during the holidays! Who am I kidding??? Everyday!

  22. Lydia Sharp said:

    Beautiful breakdown. 🙂 I’m glad you added the part about loving your job. That is obvious to anyone who reads your blog, but worth mentioning all the same.
    Wishing you many smiles in 2010!

  23. Sean Patrick Reardon said:

    While the odds are slim of landing an agent, they are much, much better than playing the lottery. Also, there a many agents out there, so the odds are increased in that respect. Keep writing!

  24. Anonymous said:

    Hi Kristin-

    I have a quick question about pitching memoir. In the cover letter and plot synopsis, should the writer refer to her character-self as “I” or as her name? Are these plots typically pitched in first or third person?


  25. Anonymous said:

    Hi Kristen

    I have just worked out the % of new clients you took on compared to the number of submissions. You read 38,000 and with the assumption that Sara read about the same about – lets round them off to 80 000. Of the 80, 000, you took on 6 clients! 6 clients!
    That means statistically any new writer has a 0.008% chance of being taken on by your agency.
    What does this mean? It means that first time writers probably have a higher chance of being accepted by NASA to fly a shuttle to the moon, being taken off death row, or become a doctor without any form of qualification.
    Quite frankly with those frightening statistics, I have to be honest with myself – and I do have tenacity, but I’m also a realist, I think being a beggar would at least bring in some money without any false impressions given to first time writers.
    Another thing, thanks for your pub rants over the last year but maybe they should remain in the pub, whilst you snicker about the 80,000 (ok 79,994 useless query letters you’ve had to wade your way through, instead of giving false advice to writers who have a laughable 0,008% chance of being published. Yes it’s completely laughable.
    Why don’t you make that new Years resolution – and rather stop giving out false hope to unemployed writers, rather be dam honest with them and tell them to rather scribble down a few sentences as a hobby every now and then when they feel slightly bored with life, but to rather go out and get a real job.

    Yeah hope your New Year will be great. I’ll be looking into a new career.