Saturday, May 8, 2010

Query Recap

It's official.  My inbox is back to 0.  *sigh of relief*  I sat down at 7:45 and read all of my queries, with only one quick twitter break.

Queries I answered today: 333

Requested: 16

Of those...

4 Paranormal YA (one where the main character and love interest don't have supernatural abilities!)
Paranormal Mystery YA (where the mystery is the focus)
Dystopian YA (ohmygod, the writing!)
YA Fantasy/Retelling (very unique)
Contemporary YA
2 Adult Urban Fantasy (one, a la Jim Butcher's Dresden Files)
3 Contemporary MG
Middle Grade Fantasy (even though it might be about 10K words too long)
Adult Historical Romance
Adult Paranormal Romance


Of the ones I passed on...

Referred to a colleague: 1

Too similar to a current project: 6

Writer was really looking for a publicist: 1

Not my genre: 6

Novella: 1

Short Story Collection: 1

Word count too high: 4

Word count too low: 6

Query was sent as an attachment (email was blank): 2

Um, I think this was a query...: 1

Liked the idea, but didn't connect to the voice in the pages: 19

Couldn't ascertain what the book was about: 19

Just not for me: all the rest


My 3 biggest pet peeves about queries today:

3. Don't tell me things about myself.  I already know who I am...or you should hope I do.  And, you could be wrong, and isn't that embarrassing!?    And don't tell me what I'm looking for.  I know that too - show me instead in your query that your manuscript has those things I'm looking for.

2. What is the point of using a super hard to read font?  Too small, too elaborate (Eduardian Script, really?), too light (light gray?) all equals too hard to read.

1. Don't open your query with "Imagine...." or ask me a bunch of rhetorical questions - it's how my high school freshmen used to start the introduction of their first essay of the year.  It makes me cringe.

18 comments:

Amanda J. said...

Interesting. I'm glad to see more MG projects in agents' in-boxes; I was under the impression everyone was looking for more.

Thanks for sharing!

Angela McCallister said...

LOL, sorry! Let the inbox padding begin... Thank you for posting the stats. I don't know how the heck you get through that many queries in a day. Don't they all start looking the same after about query #100?

Ann Marie Wraight said...

I agree with Angela, those statistics were VERY INTERESTING indeed! A nice mixture there, which is very encouraging.

May I ask you, of the 16 writers whose manuscripts you requested, how many are you likely to offer representation to - of course, assuming you LOVE their work? How many writers would you be able to take on now, let's say?
Or doesn't it work like that for you?
Have you seen any kind of statistical pattern, law of averages kind of thing - or is it possible that you'll find 3 gems in a week?
Sorry for being nosy, these things intrigue me, though!!

Janet Johnson said...

Thanks for sharing the breakdown. So helpful.

After Nathan Bransford's "experiment," I don't know how you do it either.

Michelle Hodkin said...

Now I really, really want to see the pages for that YA dystopian :)

You are a machine!

Rissa Watkins said...

I expected you'd get slammed after seeing you on the Guide to Literary Agents blog.

I can't believe how fast you plowed through those queries.

Thanks for listing your pet peeves. It is very helpful for those of us who want to query soon.

And light gray? Really?

Josin L. McQuein said...

I'm curious about the fantasy/retelling, because I'm working on one of those at the moment. Any chance you'd tell us what was being retold?

suzie townsend said...

Angela - there does come a moment when queries start to run together but it's probably much sooner than 100. Then you hit one where the voice stands out and it makes you sit up and go "Ooooo, I might want to read this!"

Ann Marie - I can't really guesstimate how many I would offer to. It could be none of them. I've read things that I liked but still passed because I didn't love them or because they were ultimately too close to something I already had or even because I didn't think I was the best person to sell it.

Josin - I'll say it was a loose sort of retelling, probably closer to an "inspired by" but I can't say any more than that.

Suzette Saxton said...

Fascinating!

Matt Heppe said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Kaitlin Ward said...

Interesting stats! Thanks for sharing them :)

Ann Marie Wraight said...

Fascinating - THANKS!

Natalie Aguirre said...

Thanks for posting your stats and your tips about what not to do in a query. It's really helpful.

Molly said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
kanishk said...

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Mechelle Fogelsong said...

Question: If you asked for my full and gave me a helpful critique when you rejected it, does that mean you'd like to see it again after I make changes? I've been editing, based on your critique. I just don't know if you're one of those agents who would re-consider it once it has been revised...?

Please let me know.

To be more specific, I wrote PIECING TOGETHER MY HEART, the story w/ the letters from a Japanese internment camp embedded in the contemporary plot.

suzie townsend said...

Mechelle,

Usually if I really want to see revisions when I send notes I'll mention that in my email - something like: "If you revise, I'd love to look at this again" - but even if I didn't you're welcome to re-query after revising and let me know what you changed.

Joseph L. Selby said...

Word count too high: 4

This always breaks my heart. When taken into combination with other negative factors, sure, I can see it tipping the scale. But as an exclusionary metric on its own, that just makes me sad.

While getting away from 300k epics is nice, fantasy has swung too far the other direction. 100k fantasies feel like they rely on established tropes to make up for the opportunity to build something truly original.

[/curmudgeon]

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Five Random Things About Suzie

1. I drink so much orange soda, it's probably running through my veins. I've been known to go through a twelve pack of diet sunkist in a day.

2. I'm legitimately nocturnal (or a vampire). I will be so exhausted at two pm that I'm falling asleep standing up - it has happened before, at Six Flags no less - but as soon as the sun goes down I'm wide awake.

3. I have a gorgeous unused $6000 Reem Acra wedding dress hanging in my closet, and it showed up on my doorstep the same day my (now ex) fiance broke up with me. And thank God for that. I wouldn't have wanted to waste that dress on him.

4. Social anxiety plagues me daily. I write a script and practice in front of the mirror when I have to make a phone call, but most people who interact with me have no idea how nervous I am (or perhaps they lie) because I've worked so hard to try to overcome it.

5. I'm actually worried that I will never love my children (when I do have them in the far off future) as much as I love my dogs. I just like animals better than people - they're sweet and innocent and soft and furry - is that so wrong?