The Numbers Game

20 queries.
5 weeks: 3 responses.
6 weeks: 5 responses.
7 weeks: 9 responses.

Is it just that things move slowly, or:
a) there isn't enough interest even to send a "No."
b) there's some interest, so they're thinking about it, and might get back to me eventually.
c) Killer Yapp ate the query letter, fuggedibout it.

Answering queries is a low priority. However, that's not the most helpful answer since you knew that already.

Just for added perspective, here's a list of what's in my incoming stack, today, after getting rid of all the easy "nos" over the weekend.

Category: query, novel, first page ok, set aside to read
19 letters dated June 29, June 27, June 24, June 11, two undated, June 10, another undated, June 12, June 13, June 13, June 11, May 27, May 30, June 2, June 2, May 22, May 31, May 23

Category: Query that needs more than form rejection cause I went to the school where the guy teaches-May 29

Query that says it has an SASE but I can't find: May 31

Query from previously published author: June 9, June 12

Query from someone at writing conference: June 14

Revisions from query dated April 25

Query sent on referral by author I respect: May 30

Query dated March 21, partial received thereafter
Query dated March 1, partial received thereafter
Partial sent May 31
8 others sent December-June

Unsolicited novel, previously represented, no SASE-waiting for form rejection letter

From this I think you can conclude that when I don't respond right away it's cause there's a problem, or I'm considering it.

Remember too, your query is the only thing you're thinking about. Here, if you survive the initial weed out from 100/week, you're still on my stack today that has 26 queries and 11 partials. And I'd rather be answering Miss Snark's email than actually yanno...working.


rick said...

First novel, three years ago, 170 queries (80 email and 90 letter) I know, a newbie nitwit covering the globe, but at least they were all personally addressed.

Not counting the 65 queries that were never answered,

* Quickest rejection, 3 minutes by email; 3 days by letter.

* Slowest rejection, 4 months by email; 11 months by letter.

Miss Snark's point is well stated.

DON'T WATCH THE MAIL, write the next novel. Four novels later, I'm a better writer and generating some interest.

Katrina Stonoff said...

My writers group discussed our longest waits last week. My longest wait (so far) was a little more than 90 days on a full + a partial. But one member got a rejection 11 months after sending a query, and a third has had one query that was never answered, despite followup letters and e-mails.

The trick, for me, is to send it and move on to the next task. I do keep track of what's out there, but I have no expectation of when I'll get a response. So when it does come quickly, I'm pleasantly surprised.

Anonymous said...

Longest 2 months. Quickest a couple of minutes by e-mail. Sent out maybe 60. Now busy into 3rd novel. First manuscript never sent out.
I know, it get's tough. Hang in there.

Hey Rick, I love a guy that's determined. (-:

Georgia Girl

Anonymous said...

Longest time: just over a year - by which time the postage had gone up so they returned my now creased three chapters by second post with an unsigned rejection.

Twenty weeks and counting for my full. Is that good or bad? Has the agent forgotten/lost the ms/lost interest/emigrated? Should I cross him off my Christmas card list?

Anonymous said...

Rick, did you sell your first novel?

Anonymous said...

I've published it in a number of articles for writers and I'll say it again: agents may be as slow as molasses to answer a query for fiction. But for non-fiction, savvy agets will jump on an e-query very quickly if they like it. A fast response will be within hours. A "slow" response might be a couple of days. They understand that others will respond fast by e-mail and don't want to be left in the dust.

This is the beauty of accepting e-mail queries--an issue that that Killer Yap and I have been barking about since this blog began.

HawkOwl said...

Yeah, I was gonna say, couldn't you be working on some of these queries instead of blogging? :)

rick said...

Who sells their first novel? Mommy loved it. Made her cry. But it's in the box for later when there's a college course examining my body of work. I'll publish it, donating the profits to my alma mater.

Novels 2 and 4 have suggested changes by different agents in the works.

Killer Yapp's distant cousin, Silent Nips, ate novel 3, regurgitating it later. I took the hint.

Novel 5 has a strong voice, per an agent at a workshop, who said send it as requested material when done.

Maybe Miss Snark is one of these agents. You never know. They're all from 212.

The important thing is to keep writing, reading, learning, and submitting. Novels hidden in the closet never get published.

Unusually verbose this morning. I am rick.

Anonymous said...

I've been hearing all these war stories as I researched this publishing gig - agents take months to respond etc ec.

I sent out my first batch of 10 queries last month and I was amazed at how many agents are quick to respond - both yes and no. Sure there are 2 I haven't heard back from yet, and 2 partials out of 4 are still out, but it is still much better than I expected.

I'm thinking the slow responders are the exceptions, not the rule. Or maybe I just had good luck.

Sha'el, Princess of Pixies said...

Longest? Over a year, and still waiting. You just know Mr. Fancypants Big Name Agent soakes the stamps off the SASE and puts them in a special stamp album! When he's in the mood, he drags it out and gloats!

Lower down the list is Miss Rude from the same agency. But she at least answers her mail.

Shortest: Four hours.

Nicest? A tie for second. But first place is still LUNA. I love those people. They're considerate. They are just nice people. Someday ... someday indeed. ...

Assuming I don't die first, they and TOR are my publishers of choice rated only on the "nice" scale.

Hey Anna, next time you think Pixie think of me! One simply knows that she has at least a smidge of Pixie blood in her.

Anonymous said...

Longest: Two years, from a highly respected agent, no less. This was even after a pair of follow-up letters. During the interim I got an agent and sold the book*; afterward, the agent in question (when I declined his offer of representation) responded with "well, I could have probably gotten you a better deal."


*My first, by the way. So far I'm batting 3 for 3 . . .

Chumplet said...

Somewhere in there - ya hafta have a microscope to find it - there IS hope.
Shortest: ten minutes.
Longest: Still waiting since January. Novel number two is in the fray and novel number three should get some bites (See? I'm still hopeful!) when I finish the damn thing.

Maria said...

Anon--batting 3 for 3--

there is no better deal than SOLD, especially in a more timely manner. I think that comment was a "sour grapes" version from the agent. :>)

Anonymous said...

I sent a query to TOR and it took only three weeks to get back to me. Which is ok. I haven't sent it out again because I realized after I sent it out...it needed work. Like plot holes the size of a great lake! Boy, oh boy I'm embarrassed to my tiny toes.

Anonymous said...

I got an e-mail request for a full ms in two hours from my first-choice agent within 2 HOURS of sending the e-mail query.

11 months later, still no word, even after (polite, professionsl) follow ups.

Perhaps he/she is just not that into me . . .

jude calvert-toulmin said...

> And I'd rather be answering Miss Snark's email than actually yanno...working.


> DON'T WATCH THE MAIL, write the next novel.

Rick, you are so right. I've just about finished the first novel in what is going to be a trilogy, and once it's had its second edit and is winging its way to various agents, it's going right out of my head and I'm cracking on with book two.

Use the 3 C's for finding an agent (Care, Courtesy and Consideration) but put all your energy into more work, not into fretting and worrying.

Truly brilliant writing speaks for itself. If you are a brilliant writer, you WILL get published. So stop worrying, and write some more.

> Yeah, I was gonna say, couldn't you be working on some of these queries instead of blogging? :)

I know you're being tongue in cheek, hawkowl, but in my books all work and no play makes Jack a dull boy. Blogging is constructive playtime for many people and keeps one's mind fresh and sharp for other tasks. It's called compartmentalisation ;)

Anonymous said...

I sent 6 email queries (the first) last week re: my historical novel. Within hours, I had already received one request for a partial (mentioning the query as "intriguing") and one rejection! That was fast.
Still waiting, less than 2 business days later, for responses to the remaining 4. Will they come at all? Maybe not. That's OK, there are other agents out there.

I am proud of myself: although my sample (6 quieries)is small, my query,depening on the recipent, is an immediate turnoff or attention grabber in one third of the cases.

I will now query by snail mail and see if I can approach the speed.
And I will also work on the next book.