Dear Miss Snark,
These questions are for those who have an agent and are wondering about the next step. What percentage of agented manuscripts sell? I'm referring to legitimate agents, not scammers or well-meaning but gormless agents. Do you sell a majority of the projects you represent? I read somewhere that only 1 in a 100 agented manuscripts is sold. Can this be true?
What is the average time it takes for a ms to be sold? I know it varies, but on average, does it takes 2 weeks to sell a ms or 2 months or 6 months? Beyond what time frame is there little hope for a ms? In other words, if a project hasn't sold in say, 8 months, is it fair to say it probably won't sell at all?
Thanks for your help! Your blog rocks, your rock, and KY rocks!
We're not rocking quite so much today...more like skating. iceeeeeeeeeeeeeeee.
You're trying to apply science to art and sadly for your (and my!) peace of mind it doesn't work that way. There is no "average" because there is no uniform product. Books aren't widgets, and authors are not fungible.
It doesn't matter to you what the average is, even if we could determine it. What matters is -will YOUR book sell. If you have an agent, you have someone who thinks it will, and is willing to stake some time and dough on his belief.
I truly doubt that the sell through rate is 1 in 100. For starters, no one could afford to stay in business if they spent all their time flogging things that never paid off. Contrary to what you might think, it's a whole lot easier to earn a living by making big juicy sales than steaming the stamps off SASEs or dunning the no-sales for expense money.
It is the very nature of humanity to look for logical explanations in the face of the unknown, or failing to create a system that explains the unexplainable (numeroloy, astrology, speed dating). Publishing is many things, logical isn't really high on the list.