I’ve received a request for a full ms based on a partial and synopsis that I dutifully sent off about a month ago. Although I am attempting to keep myself grounded in reality (researching additional agents to query, focusing on book #2, etc.), I still catch myself drifting into happy daydreams about what the future might hold for my brave little ms. Please help me temper this enthusiasm. Realistically, what are the odds that this agent will be the right one for me? How many “sure, I’d love to see a full” turn into “I want to be this writer’s agent” for you?
There's nothing wrong with a little daydreaming. In fact, letting yourself see success is one of those motivational tricks that gunnery sargeants use for us literary agents in boot camp. "Michiko loves me! Michiko loves me" is our cadence song.
You're also right though in knowing the odds are against you. And at this stage it's not cause you're a bad writer. I don't request fulls from anyone who hasn't shown a pretty significant demonstration of talent in those first 50 pages.
However here's a waterfall of reality for you to bathe in:
100 queries a week (x 12 weeks per quarter)
5 partials requested each week
20 partials a month (x 3 months)
5 fulls requested a month (x 3 months)
1 new client quarter (in three months).
Don't look at the numbers though; look at the percentages. Kristin Nelson gets 10x the number of queries I get, and takes on more people but I'm going to bet her ratio of query to representation is within spitting distance of mine.
It only takes one yes. The odds are meaningless because I don't have to take 1 and I can actually take more. If I got 10 great manuscripts in a given month, I'd be nuts, but I'd want to take them all.