Dear Ms. Snark:
On the average, how many of your submissions are sold to editors? (1)
In most industries, closing ratios are analyzed, but in publishing, standards are difficult to find. Is there an expected threshold to gauge a successful literary agent's minimum closing ratio--10%, 40%, 80%? (2)
When I ask, I'm met with defensive, emotional responses. (3)
Is it not standard business practice for agents and agencies to know the number of submissions versus sales in any given year or what closing ratio to strive for? (4)
Closing ratios should be an important question for all writers; it gauges their chances of publication with a particular agent. (5)
I hope you'll give me a straight answer.
1. I have no idea. I don't track that. And you're asking the wrong question. You mean to ask how many of the projects I take on in a given time period end up being sold. It's absolutely normal to submit a project to ten or more people, auction it to the highest bidder and walk away with a fistful of dough. I closed ONE deal out of ten calls. Am I less effective for doing that than an agent who sells something for no dough to a publisher after one phone call? Her closing ratio is 100%. Which one do you want for an agent?
You can only sell a book once (generally speaking..we're not talking reprints, and sub rights here, ok?) If you have 10 customers at the Widget Factory you can sell widgets to all ten of them. My dream is to have ten salivating editors and only sell to one.
3. Yea, cause it's annoying as hell to have someone ask a question that demonstrates both a lack of understanding of the industry AND is patronzing to boot.
5. Wrong. Books are not fungible. One book is not another. Becuase I sell Mr. Midget's Digits to FlitterGibbet and Giroux has ZERO correalation to whether I will be able to sell your book Sales Tactics for Gorillas to anyone including FlitterGibbet and Giroux.
Straight enough answer for you?