2017: A Year in Queries

I think I speak for a lot of people – or at least for everyone I’ve spoken to this year – when I say that 2017 was not a great year for productivity. My one and only blog post in 2017 was a bit of a bummer, and while I liked it and may write more like it in 2018, I want to focus on moving on, blogging more often, and not letting the bastards get me down.

My second blog post of 2017 is also my final one of the year. It’s the one writers always look forward to and dread simultaneously, My Year in Queries! Long-time readers of Glass Cases know the gist by now, but as a reminder:

  • I read and respond to every query I receive with these exceptions:
    • Pre-queries, aka emails writers send to ask if they can query. The answer is always YES if the agent is open to queries, and if they aren’t they’ll say so on their website.
    • Not addressed to me.
    • Sent as an attachment.
    • Mass queries, whether I’m BCC’d or one of many who are CC’d.
    • Non-Query. I don’t recommend querying a book you already published (that means self-pub too). It’s unlikely an agent will be able to re-sell those for you (please refer here and here for more info). But, sometimes I get queries for published books and I legitimately don’t know if it’s a query or a press release. Those are the ones I ignore.

In those 5 categories, I received 380 queries.

In 2017, I also closed to queries over the summer. It’s something I hardly ever do so I made sure to give writers a month’s notice on my agency website, Twitter, and Publisher’s Marketplace. I updated all bios to make sure it gave the dates I’d be closed to queries. While closed, I received 203 queries that were deleted unread.

Finally, in 2017, I received 291 queries in genres/markets I do not represent. I’m not very strict about this one. If something just wasn’t a preferred sub-genre or not usually my thing, I did not count it. For “does not represent,” I meant only the genres/markets specified on the agency website. For me that means:

  • Nonfiction of any kind (including memoir)
  • Picture Books/Chapter Books
  • Inspirational/spiritual novels
  • Category romance and/or erotica
  • Screenplays

OK! Now let’s get to the 100% awesome, definitely-want-to-read-love-and-answer queries. (Note: Remember these are queries only – aka “the slush pile.” Requests from conferences, contests, referrals, or previous Revise & Resubmits were not counted.)

January: Total: 441; Requests: 1

February: Total: 407; Requests: 7

March: Total: 393; Requests: 5

April: Total: 336; Requests: 8

May: Total: 371; Requests: 7

June: Total: 327; Requests: 9

July & August: CLOSED (but received 203 anyway)

September: Total: 333; Requests: 10 (as of 9/15)

October: Total: 410; Requests: 5

November: Total: 426; Requests: 6

December: Total: 329; Requests: 4

Total Queries in 2017: 3,976

Total Requests from Queries: 62

Total R&Rs Requested in 2017: 16

*Last year someone asked me how many requests turn into Revise & Resubmits rather than flat-out rejections, so I did my best to keep track this year. Hoping to receive those revisions in 2018!*

Most Requested: Adult upmarket/literary focusing on female characters, complexities of relationships, and/or involving psychological suspense; YA contemporary from marginalized voices that aren’t issue books, but rather familiar stories with fresh perspectives; YA sci-fi with a fun ensemble cast and is not dystopian.

What I Wish I Saw More: Once again, literary/upper MG, preferably magical in some way but contemporary/realistic would be great too! Also, more YA horror, please.

Total New Clients Signed in 2017: 2 – Laura Pohl (YA sci-fi) and Alyson Greene (YA thriller).

*Note: Signing 2 or 3 new clients in a year isn’t that rare for me, but 2017 was a semi-intentional quiet year, so I’d love to see this number double or triple in 2018!

***

OK. So what does all of this mean? Well, it means I received more queries per month than in 2016, but since I closed in the middle of the year, I received fewer overall. It also means that of the 3,976 queries I received, 874 of them did not follow the rules, which makes the more realistic number of queries of I received in 2017 3,102.

If you’re one of those 3,102 queriers you should know how much agents appreciate writers like you! Even though we can’t take on everyone, and often can’t even take on a fraction of what we end up liking, we’re still grateful for a good query and a writer who does everything right. I hope you all end up finding agents, and if you’re among those I requested or asked for an R&R, I hope to hear from you again!

As always, remember that when agents open your query, we’re looking for reasons to request your manuscript. We don’t want to reject anything. We just have to sometimes. Rejections aren’t personal and they are very, very rarely because a book is “bad.” This is a business and our responses are business decisions. We’re still rooting for your successes even if they don’t end up being with us.

And with that… Goodbye forever, 2017! Bring on 2018.

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2016: A Year in Queries

Hi everyone!

I’m getting to this post a little later than I usually do, and part of that is because I am very behind on queries. It’s sort of easy to be all “ugh, 2016” about it, but that is kind of what happened. [Update 1/17: I am caught up on all 2016 queries and stats have been adjusted accordingly!]

The number of queries I get in a year vs. how many I request vs. how many authors I actually sign are always overwhelming to writers (so I’m told). Last year I decided to keep better track of what type of queries I receive so you can see what you’re really up against. Maybe it’ll be make you feel better; maybe it won’t. But, here’s one more layer to an agent’s inbox for you to consider:

In 2016, I received 756 queries in genres I do not represent. When I say “do not represent” I’m referring to the following categories only:

  • Nonfiction of any kind (including memoir)
  • Picture Books/Chapter Books for readers younger than 8
  • Inspirational/spiritual novels
  • Category romance and/or erotica
  • High/epic commercial fantasy
  • Screenplays

I wasn’t super strict about it, so I kept to what I’ve specifically listed online under “do not send.” Anything else, including sub-genres of fantasy or just “not my usual thing,” were still considered as regular queries and went toward the following tally. But, more on this later. For now, let’s get to the stats!

(As always, remember these are from unsolicited queries aka “the slush pile” – only. Requests from conferences, contests, referrals, or previous R&Rs were not counted.)

January: Total: 394; Requests: 9

February: Total: 403; Requests: 4

March: Total: 336; Requests: 4

April: Total: 324; Requests: 1 (Note: Most of the requests I made in April were from the DVpit Twitter contest and not from queries.)

May: Total: 340; Requests: 6

June: Total: 335; Requests: 6

July: Total: 484; Requests: 8

August: Total: 379; Requests: 2

September: Total: 300; Requests: 6

October: Total: 460; Requests: 7

November: Total: 307; Requests: 2

December: Total: 265; Requests: 5

Total Queries in 2016: 4,327

Total Requests from Queries: 60

Most Requested Genres: Adult upmarket/literary (usually tackling women’s issues in some way); YA contemporary (most often with a focus on marginalized voices and/or fun, high-concept character-driven stories); MG magical realism (the hardest genre to get right on multiple levels, but I’m a sucker for it).

What I Wish I Saw More: Literary MG (magical or contemporary/realistic); YA or Adult Sci-fi (not space opera or post-apocalyptic); Adult upmarket (see above; I want even more!)

Total New Clients Signed in 2016: 3 – RaeChell Garrett (YA contemporary, query); Andrew Munz (YA western, conference and R&R); Katie Henry (YA contemporary, query)

***

I answer most of the queries I receive, including those 756 that were in genres I didn’t represent. What I delete without answering are the following, even though they end up in my final tally before I open them:

  • Pre-queries – 32
    • Remember the query itself is what asks an agent for representation. Asking if you can ask is redundant and considered spam.
  • Not addressed to me – 226
    • When I get another agent’s name, I assume you meant to query them instead (sorry!). When no name is written at all, I still answer, but it’s kind of a red flag. Your query is like a job application. Don’t “To Whom It May Concern” the very agent it concerns. Author/agent relationships are a partnership. If you expect an agent to work for you, you need to put in effort to work with them too.
  • Mass queries – 123
    • When I’m obviously BCC’d on an email or I can see other agents CC’d on your query, I don’t think you’re serious about working with me and I delete your query.
  • Book already published – 137
    • Some of these were books published with small presses, but the majority of these queries were for self-published books. I started typing all of the caveats about this, and was forming a whole other blog post, so I’ll just refer you here and here, for starters.

With all that in mind:

Total queries I didn’t even answer/answered begrudgingly: 518

Added to the 756 queries in genres I don’t rep: 1,274

Now, the more realistic number of queries I received and answered and considered in 2016: 3,053

I know this is still a large number, but I hope it keeps things in perspective! Some other things to keep in mind:

  • I ask for R&Rs (Revise & Resubmit) a lot. Meaning, I’m not signing folks at the fastest rate, but I am actively working with authors with the intention of representing them in the future. If they end up signing with someone else in the meantime, that’s on me. My hope is that 2016 R&Rs come back to me in 2017 and become new clients!
  • Agents can’t take on everything. Of those 3,053 queries that did everything right, I still had to be super selective. I can’t sign 3,000 new clients every year. Realistically, I can handle about 5-10 new clients per year on top of my current client list. This means I end up passing on very good projects all the time! I’ve seen them go on to sell  – and do well – and it’s always bittersweet, but that’s business.
  • Do not take rejections personally! It’s always a business decision based on our time and expertise and skill set. Very rarely, if ever, is it because your book is “bad.” Agents are rooting for you even if we’re not the ones to help you find success.

***

There it is! Another year in queries. If there are any stats I didn’t include that were query-related, and you want to see them included in 2017, please comment below!

Finally, because I can usually only send form rejections, let me just say here: THANK YOU! It would be kind of awkward if I added a “PS” to rejections just to say “but you did everything right, yay!!!” So, consider this my token of appreciation.

See you in 2017, friends!

2015: A Year in Queries

It’s that time of year again… when writers see the end-of-year stats from agents and feel overwhelmed. I’m sure this post will be no different, though I will try to reassure you up front that these numbers are not as scary as they seem!

 

As always, keep in mind the following stats are from unsolicited queries only – a.k.a. “the slush pile.” Any requests made at conferences, from contests, referrals, or previous R&Rs were not part of the tally. So, without further ado, My Year in Queries!

 

January: Total: 439; Requests: 6

February: Total: 383; Requests: 5

March: Total: 383; Requests: 5

April: Total: 349; Requests: 4

May: Total: 287; Requests: 3

June: Total: 256; Requests: 6

July: Total: 282; Requests: 3

August: Total: 300; Requests: 9 (Woo!)

September: Total: 294; Requests: 3

October: Total: 298; Requests: 6

November: Total: 396; Requests: 2

December: Total (as of 12/28): 188; Requests: 3

 

Total Queries in 2015: 3,855

Total Requests from Queries: 55

Most Requested Genre: YA contemporary (28 out of 55)

Genres I Wish I Saw More: Literary MG and Upmarket/Contemporary Adult Fiction

Total New Clients from Queries: 6

Total New Clients in 2015: 7 – Lilly Barels (YA, query); Tracey Neithercot (YA, query); Dalanie Beach (YA, conference); Jackie Jacobi (YA, query); Evan James Roskos (MG/YA, query); Jan Saenz (Adult/WF, query); Miranda Suri (Adult/UF, query)

 

I’m especially proud of how many new clients I signed this year for a couple reasons:

  1. I signed more new clients this year than I have in any other year, and nearly doubled my client list, which was one of my goals for 2015. Hooray!
  2. 2015 was a bit of a year for me, both personally and professionally. Not that it was all bad. Some of it was incredibly, unbelievably wonderful. It was just a lot. So, it makes me happy that despite capital-L Life happening all over this year, I still found some amazing new talent to work with, and I cannot wait to bring their projects into 2016!

 

Some things to keep in mind, lest that Total Queries number is ringing in your head:

  • That total includes all the queries I receive in genres I don’t represent. In 2016, I’m going to be better about including that number as part of my stats, as I imagine it will make the total appear far less threatening.
  • I ask for R&Rs a lot. (Revise & Resubmit) That means I’m not signing quite as many clients at the fastest rate, but I am actively working with authors with the intention of offering representation. If I ask for an R&R, it means I really, really want to offer representation, but I need more confidence in the writing before I commit. My goal isn’t to make writers wait around for me, and if they sign with someone else instead of revising, that sucks for me. My hope, however, is that those 2015 R&Rs will turn into revisions I *love* and those authors will become 2016 clients!
  • Every query I receive gets tallied in these stats. Including, unfortunately, the few I delete without reading. I read and respond to 99.9% of my queries, but sometimes queries are so off base that there are simply no words. These include:
    • Mass queries. If I’m obviously BCC’d, or one of 100 agents CC’d on a query, I’m not going to bother responding.
    • Pre-queries. These are the email equivalents of someone asking, “Can I ask you a question?” The query itself IS a question, so just ask!
    • Queries sent as attachment. No, complete stranger, I will not open that unsolicited attachment or click on that weird link.
    • Queries addressed to someone else. Copy & paste fails happen, but I will assume you did not mean to query me, sorry.
    • The “Is This a Query?” Query. If you’re querying a self-published novel, make sure you’re including sales figures and what you hope an agent will add to your writing career. Do not just email agents a publicity sheet about your self-published novel. If a book has a cover and blurbs, I assume it’s already published and that your “query” is marketing spam.
  • Even if I represent the genre, the query looks great, and the project has potential, I simply can’t take on everything. I keep my list small so I can devote my time equally to all of my clients who need it. This means I have to pass on very good projects and hope they land with other amazing agents instead. Do not take it personally if you get a rejection. It’s always a business decision based on our time and expertise and skill set, and is rarely because your book is “bad.” Agents want you to succeed even if we, personally, can’t be the ones to take on your projects.

 

If you received a form rejection, personalized rejection, or any sort of response from me on your query, it means you did everything right! Be proud of that, and even though agents can’t always send individual Thank You notes, consider this a huge THANK YOU for following guidelines and making the submissions process run smoothly! We appreciate you.

 

Now go enjoy your holidays, take a break from the book world for a bit, and we’ll see you in 2016!!

 happy-new-year-champagne[1]

2014: A Year in Queries

Hello, everyone!

It’s that special time of year again where I look back on my year in queries and share the terrifying results with you. Last year I had to give you my stats in two sections because of my mid-year hiatus in between agencies: here and here. 2014 was my first full year at Bradford Literary Agency (woo!), and here’s what it looked like from the query side of things.*

*As always, the following stats are from unsolicited queries only, meaning the ones that came through my regular query inbox (“the slush pile”). Any requests from conferences, contests, or referrals from people I know were not part of the tally.

January
Total: 323
Requests: 4
Genres Requested: Adult literary; Adult urban fantasy; YA contemporary (2)

February
Total: 256
Requests: 3
Genres Requested: Adult literary; Adult magical realism; YA contemporary

March
Total: 245
Requests: 3
Genres Requested: Adult literary; Adult urban fantasy; YA contemporary

April
Total:263
Requests: 5
Genres Requested: Adult literary; YA contemporary (2); YA mystery; YA sci-fi

May
Total: 271
Requests: 3
Genres Requested: Adult mystery; YA contemporary; YA thriller

June
Total: 263
Requests: 3
Genres Requested: Adult magical realism; YA sci-fi (2)

July

Total: 284
Requests: 10
Genres Requested: Adult sci-fi (2); Adult mystery; Adult short story collection; YA contemporary; YA sci-fi (2); MG fantasy; YA urban fantasy; YA magical realism
August
Total: 241
Requests: 4
Genres Requested: Adult literary (2); Adult sci-fi; YA urban fantasy
September
Total: 247
Requests: 4
Genres Requested: Adult literary; (2); YA contemporary (2)
October
Total: 324
Requests: 7
Genres Requested: Adult  magical realism; Adult sci-fi; YA contemporary (2); YA urban fantasy; YA sci-fi (2)
November
Total: 283
Requests: 3
Genres Requested: MG fantasy; YA horror; YA contemporary
December
Total: 289
Requests: 3
Genres Requested: Adult women’s fiction; MG fantasy; YA contemporary

Total Queries Received in 2014: 3,289

Total Manuscript Requests from Queries: 52

Request Rate from Queries: 1.6% (approx.)  


Most Requested Genres: YA contemporary, Adult literary, Sci-fi (both adult & YA)

Least Requested Genres (of those I rep): MG (but when requested, usually involved fantasy elements), YA mystery/thriller

Total Offers of Rep from Queries: Two


Total Offers of Rep Overall: Five
Total New Clients in 2014: Three
1) Anthony Jones, adult sci-fi/noir: R&R from 2013 query, received revision and offered rep in 2014
2) Marissa Marangoni, YA literary/contemporary, from 2014 query
3) Kelly Calabrese, YA thriller/horror, met at a 2014 conference
While these stats may seem daunting to new writers currently querying or thinking about querying agents, keep in mind the following things:
  • I receive a LOT of queries for genres I do not represent. If I had to guess, I’d say at least 40% of my slush pile consists of queries from people who don’t actually care what I represent, as long as I represent them. This is not a good way to go about finding an agent. You want an agent who is excited about your book, but who also has the right editorial eye for your genre and experience selling it.
  • More often than not, I ask for an R&R (revise & resubmit) when I’m interested in something. Good writing can’t exist without revision, yet revising is a separate skill not every writer can master. Since I’m an editorial agent, I need to know my future-clients can take notes, make them their own, and revise. There were about a dozen times this year when an author whose manuscript I requested received an offer of representation. In some cases, that manuscript just wasn’t for me. Other times, though, I saw the potential in the manuscript, but it needed too much work for me to make a counter-offer. In other circumstances, I’d ask for an R&R, but if they have an offer on the table already, then I have to pass. 
  • I read and respond to every query I receive, with the exception of the following:
    • Mass queries – queries addressed to more than 1 agent (it’s also very obvious when we’re all BCC’d)
    • Pre-queries – emails that ask whether they can query, which is a waste of time for everyone involved. The answer is always yes, just query. 
    • Queries sent as attachment. 
    • Queries addressed to someone else 
    • The Maybe-Query. (If you self-published the book you’re querying, make sure the agent knows you’re seeking representation and not just spamming them with a promotional email.)
The above-mentioned list are only fraction of the queries I receive, but they do contribute to just how many queries I end up with by the end of the year. The majority of writers who query me are informed and professional. I can’t request everything, even if they query is well-written, but I always appreciate the writers getting it right. I know a form rejection doesn’t convey that, and I wish I had time to personalize each response – or at least give a secret high-five to the writers whose queries were awesome, but just not my thing. So I’ll just say here, “thanks, writers!”
One of my 2015 goals is to double my client list (!). So I hope you’re all ready to send me more great queries – or send me those R&Rs I requested in 2014 – and help me reach that goal. 
See you in the new year, writers! 

2013: A Year in Queries

Hi everyone! I hope you all enjoyed your holidays. This will be my last post of 2013, which means it’s time for my annual end-of-year query stats.

I dubbed this year the year of ALL THE CHANGES, and my career was no exception. In April I closed to queries to prepare for a career change. I moved from an assistant-level position with Curtis Brown, Ltd. to a full-time agent role with Bradford Literary Agency. Back in June, I blogged about moving to Bradford and included my query stats from January to April 2013.

I re-opened to queries on June 10, so for the purposes of this blog post, the stats I’m using will be from June 10 – December 22. As a reminder, the stats are from unsolicited queries only – aka “the slush pile.” Any requests made at conferences, through blog/Twitter contests, or via referrals weren’t part of the tally. So, without further ado:

June 10-30:
Total: 272
Requests: 4
Genres Requested: Women’s fiction, Urban Fantasy, Magical Realism, MG fantasy

July:
Total: 391
Requests: 4
Genres Requested: Women’s fiction, Literary Fiction, Urban Fantasy, YA Fantasy

August:
Total: 320
Requests: 3
Genres Requested: Adult Sci-fi, MG Horror, YA Fantasy

September:
Total: 303
Requests: 8
Genres Requested: Literary Fiction (2), Adult Paranormal Thriller, Adult Sci-fi, YA Paranormal, YA Thriller, YA Fantasy, YA Sci-fi 

October:
Total: 297
Requests: 5

Genres Requested: YA Contemporary (2), YA Mystery, YA Fantasy (2), MG Magical Realism (2), MG Contemporary 

November:
Total: 281
Requests: 5
Genres Requested: Adult Sci-fi (2), YA contemporary (2), Adult Magical Realism 

December (1-22):
Total: 150
Requests: 0
Note: I’ve received 22 new queries from 12/23-12/29. Since I haven’t read them yet, they weren’t counted toward December’s total.

Total Queries Received Since June 10: 2,024

Total Manuscript Requests: 29

Most Requested Genres: Literary fiction, Magical Realism, and Sci-fi

Least Requested Genres: Paranormal and Women’s Fiction


Month With Most Requests: September

Most Popular Query Day of the Week: Wednesday

Total Offers of Rep from Queries: 0 – Don’t be alarmed by this number. More often than not, if I’m interested in a manuscript, I ask for a revision (“R&R”) before offering representation. This is even more common if the manuscript comes from an unsolicited query.

Total New Clients since June: 1 – The fabulous Gina Miel Heron, a woman’s fiction author I met at a conference in 2011 and kept in contact with while she finished her manuscript and then, later, the R&R I asked for in 2012. Sometimes it’s a long road to representation!  

Total New Clients in 2013: 2 – Before moving to Bradford, I also signed YA author Stephanie Scott, who I met via a blog contest in 2012 and officially offered rep in February 2013.

Total Queries Received in 2013 (minus hiatus): 3,206

I received about 700 fewer queries this year than I received last year. Given my agency switch, a tighter focus on what genres I represent, a two month hiatus from queries, and attending fewer conferences, this makes sense to me. What I noticed about the queries I did receive this year is that the quality of them was much higher. I can’t request everything I want to sometimes, but what I did request often resulted in revision requests or some very, very tough decisions. 

While these query stats can be a bit hard to process, I should remind you that most agents receive hundreds of queries for genres they don’t represent. Someday, perhaps in 2014, I’ll feel ambitious enough to split my query stats up into Genres I Represent vs. Genres I Don’t Represent. I think a lot of you will feel much better about the request rate that way! 

Also, I’ll repeat last year’s post and remind you that I do respond to every query I receive with the exception of the following:
  • Mass queries (addressed to more than one person – and, yes, we can tell when you BCC us).
  • Pre-queries (emails asking whether they can query).
  • Queries sent as attachments or links, with nothing else in the body of the email.
  • Queries addressed to someone else (even if it’s a copy and paste error, I’ll assume you meant to query that other person instead).
  • Possible query for a self-pubbed book, but possibly just promoting a self-pubbed book. If I can’t tell if what you’re sending is, in fact, a query, I won’t answer it.
Most writers do follow guidelines and research agents and respect that querying is Step One in the process to getting an agent. We love you for that, writers, and we hope you keep doing that in 2014. 

As for me, I envision 2014 to be a much more sane year than 2013 has been. I promise no more agency moves or, barring any emergencies, breaks from queries. I may even get back to blogging at a semi-regular pace! In the meantime, I thank you for reading my little blog for another year. Have a very happy new year, dear readers. See you in 2014! 

News, Stats, and Hello Again

Oh, hello. Didn’t see ya there.

As some of you may have noticed (and if you didn’t, that’s fine too), I’ve taken a bit of a break from the blog. I even changed the nature of this blog, which began as a place to share unpublished work, because I could not longer read submissions and still be an effective agent.

My hiatus from the blog came as a result from (purposely) overworking myself last year, which I don’t regret, but it made for a very tired beginning to 2013. Then around April I made the very huge decision to leave Curtis Brown, Ltd., where I’d been working in foreign rights for five years and building a list of my own for over two. I saw myself at a smaller agency in the long run, and I felt as if I was in a place where “the long run” could start now. At the end of May, I officially became an agent with the Bradford Literary Agency, where I get to work with the fabulous Laura Bradford and Natalie Lakosil. I am, of course, very excited to begin the next step in my career with these ladies!

So, that’s where I’ve been.

Part of my transition period included closing to queries, which made me a little sad. I know writers think agents hate them, but my query folder is where I’ve found most of my clients. I have a soft spot for the slush pile for that reason alone. Sure, there are always ones that miss the mark, but the good queries usually outweigh the bad. I grew to miss the “finger-crossing moment” I’d get when I dove into my slush pile. So, as of June 10, I opened back up to them (see sidebar for “Want to Query Me?”).

But speaking of queries, I closed to them in mid-April, so I thought I’d share my January – April 12 stats with you here. It won’t be as comprehensive of a breakdown as last year’s stats, but it’s a quick overview of what went on in my slush pile in early 2013.

Total number of unsolicited queries received from January – April: 1,182

(Note: “Unsolicited” does not include referrals, conference/contest requests, or revisions I had asked for previously.)

Total number of manuscripts requested out of the 1,182 queries: 17

Total offers of representation out of the 17 manuscripts requested: 0

Since January 2013, I signed 1 new client, a YA author who I met through a blog contest.

But don’t be discouraged, querying writers! The year is only halfway through and I just re-opened to queries. I’m at a new agency and am actively growing my list. You can click the Bradford Literary website link above to find out what I’m looking for and how to send it. (Please do this before querying!)

So, all of this is to say hello again. I’m beginning the second half of 2013 feeling shiny and new, and I hope to blog more regularly now that life has become more stable. And, of course, I hope to read your lovely queries soon too.

2012: A Year in Queries

This will be my last post of 2012, so let me take the opportunity to say THANK YOU. Seriously. Thank you all for reading and helping this blog continue for another year! I’ll be back in 2013 with more of your brilliant stories to share and more posts about writing, pop culture, and pictures of corgis.

Last year, I decided to choose three months at random to do an average of the queries I received in 2011. This year I did inventory of every month, cutting December off on the 21st because that’s when the office closed for the holidays. (Though, as of today I have 20 queries in my inbox, including two that were sent on Christmas Day. I’ll answer those in January.)

So, because writers love stats (right?), I present… my year in queries!

Note: These stats were compiled from ONLY emailed, unsolicited queries. Or, as the kids call it, the slush pile. Requests I had made at conferences, from blog/Twitter contests, and referrals were not counted among the following totals. Requested revisions for manuscripts I had read in 2011 were also not counted since they fall under solicited submissions. I receive maybe ten queries a year via regular mail, so I didn’t count those either. (Thank you, writers who follow directions and send their queries via email!)

Second Note: I answer every query I receive with the exception of the following (which were also not counted in the totals):

– If the query was addressed to more than one person.
Mass queries only show that a writer has put no thought into who they want representing their work or, in a best-case scenario, is trying to take an easy way out. If you want writing to be your career, take the time to care about it.

– Pre-queries (emails from writers who ask if they can query me.)
I don’t answer these because they are pointless and unprofessional. The query itself determines whether I’ll be interested in reading your book. Asking me if you can ask me to read your book is redundant, so I don’t bother answering. Just query me.

– Query sent as an attachment with nothing in the body of the email.
Do you open unsolicited attachments from complete strangers? Neither do agents.

– Queries not addressed to me.
These could often be an innocent mistake, but if you address me by a different agent’s name, I’m going to assume you meant to query them, not me.

– Unsure whether a self-pubbed author was querying their novel, or if they were just promoting their self-pubbed book.

OK, on to the stats!

January:
Queries Received: 430
Manuscripts Requested: 12
Genres Requested: Contemporary YA (4); YA Mystery (1); YA Fantasy (1); Adult Literary Supernatural/Dark Fairytale (2); Adult Literary Fiction (2); Adult Sci-Fi (1)

February:
Queries Received: 388
Manuscripts Requested: 14
Genres Requested: YA Fantasy (3); Adult Fantasy (1); YA Mystery (1); YA Sci-fi (1); Adult Magican Realism (1); YA Magical Realism (1); YA gothic (1); MG magical realism (1); Adult Dark Mystery (1)

March:
Queries Received: 373
Manuscripts Requested: 4
Genres Requested: YA steampunk (1); YA magical realism; YA paranormal (1); Adult literary fiction (1)

April:
Queries Received: 346
Manuscripts Requested: 5
Genres Requested: YA dark fantasy (1); YA contemporary (2); Adult literary fiction (1); Adult commercial fiction (1)

May:
Queries Received: 344
Manuscripts Requested: 6
Genres Requested: Adult literary fiction (1); YA fantasy (2); YA contemp. (2); Adult sci-fi mystery (1)

June:
Queries Received: 339
Manuscripts Requested: 4
Genres Requested: Adult Dark Fantasy (1); Adult Memoir (1); YA sci-fi (1); Adult horror (1)

July:
Queries Received: 366
Manuscripts Requested: 6
Genres Requested: YA contemporary (3); YA fairytale (1); YA horror (1); YA sci-fi (1)

August:
Queries Received: 330
Manuscripts Requested: 5
Genres Requested: Adult Mystery (2); YA Mystery (2); YA Horror (1)

September:
Queries Received: 298
Manuscripts Requested: 5
Genres Requested: Adult Urban Fantasy (1); Adult Sci-Fi (1); Adult Literary Mystery (2); YA Contemp. (1)

October:
Queries Received: 300
Manuscripts Requested: 1
Genres Requested: Contemporary YA (1)

November:
Queries Received: 248
Manuscripts Requested: 7
Genres Requested: YA thriller (1); YA fantasy (1); YA contemp. (1); Adult Literary Fiction (3); Adult Magical Realism (1)

December (1-21)
Queries Received: 152
Manuscripts Requested: 2
Genres Requested: Women’s Fiction (1); Adult Suspense (1)

Total queries received in 2012: 3,914

Total manuscripts requested from those queries: 71

Most requested genres: YA Contemporary and Adult Literary Fiction

Second most requested genres: Adult Literary Mystery/Suspense and YA Horror

Least requested genres: MG and Adult Memoir

Total clients signed from the 2012 slush pile: 2

Total clients signed in 2012: 7
(1 from Cupid’s Blind Speed Dating Contest contest; 1 from the Midwest Writer’s Conference; 1 referral; and 4 from queries, two of which were R&Rs that had carried over from 2011, but officially signed in early 2012.)

These stats can be a bit daunting for writers whose queries are currently sitting in inboxes or who haven’t yet started querying. Keep in mind that agents receive queries for genres they don’t represent, trends they can’t sell (yep, I still got my fair share of vampire and werewolf romances in 2012!), and books from writers who put no thought into whom they were querying. There are hundreds and hundreds of writers out there who have brilliant books in search for an agent, but when you see numbers that reach almost 4,000 total queries received, remember your competition may not be as fierce as it appears.

But I’ll repeat – there are hundreds and hundreds of excellent writers out there, but agents can’t have a client list that accommodates all of them. We have to reject good writers and good books all the time and trust that there are other agents with more room on their lists to give them proper attention.

To any writers getting ready to query, or re-query, this year – good luck and don’t be scared! Writers tend to ask about how to “avoid the slush pile,” but really the slush pile is just what agents call queries. It’s where we find talent. The slush pile is a crowded place, but it’s not a bad place to be. New agents depend on it to grow their own lists and established agents continue to use it to find new clients. Hope to see you there at some point in 2013… if you think I’m a good fit for you, of course.

Happy New Year, everyone!