Tuesday, August 18, 2009

The State of the Query

Okay, today I'm going to give you all the specifics on my querying status. Some of you might be interested because you like me and want to know the details of how I'm doing out there in agent-land, and some of you might be interested because knowing someone else's statistics make the querying process seem just a little bit more accessible and less mysterious. I know I was very hungry for numbers when I first started sending these letters out the door...

Plus, I got a call yesterday that is driving me crazy, and this summary will help me regroup. Yes, you'll have to read all the way to the end to find out about the call.

Between April 15, 2009 and June 24, 2009, I sent out a total of 76 queries. One agent wrote back saying that she wasn't taking new clients after all, and therefore did not review or consider my query, so let's take that number down to 75 valid queries.

Of those 75 queries, I've had 29 form rejections (38%).

I've also had 2 rejections based on genre... they don't think they can sell chick lit right now (3%).

I've also had 17 "no responses" that must be assumed to be rejections, because the agents have a "no response means no" policy, and it's been long enough by now (22%).

Also in the "no response" category are 11 outstanding queries where I do still, eventually, expect an answer of some sort, even though in some cases it's been as long as 18 weeks (15%).

Now, onto the good news. Those of you who have done your homework know that there is more than one kind of rejection. There's the form rejection, and there's the "personal rejection": this does not mean that they reject your manuscript and also say that you have a big nose, it means that the agents have taken some precious time out of their already packed days to say something positive about your manuscript. It's a rejection, but it also means that you're doing something right. At the very least, it means that your query letter doesn't suck, because the agent went on to read some of your pages. (See my "thanks for the rejection" post for more thoughts on this.)

I have received 6 personal rejections (8%).

I have also gotten 10 requests for additional materials, either a partial or full manuscript (14%).

Of those 10 requests, 5 have since been rejected (but usually in a very nice way). That means that out of 75 original queries, I am now hanging my hopes on 5 agents who have asked to see more (7%).

I guess there's also hope to be had in that 15% that hasn't gotten back to me at all yet, but naturally I tend to think I have better odds with an agent who read three chapters, then asked to see the whole thing, rather than with an agent who only has the one-page query letter on her desk.

And what about that phone call? Yesterday, according to my home telephone's caller I.D., I got a call from an agent. S/he did not leave a message. S/he did not call back, or email.

GAHHHH! What does that mean?

I'm going to give it until the end of the week, then do a polite status check-in with that agency. In the meantime, I'll be pretending to focus on a million other things, but failing.


  1. You're far more patient than me! I'd e-mail immediately!!! Good for you. I'm in a very similar boat, with 3 fulls and 6 partials floating in the ether (11 requests out of 32 responses so far - this waiting game SUCKS!!!). If an agent called you, it's got to be good news. How long have they had your submission for? I'd definitely be proactive. Keep us posted, and good luck!!!!!!!

  2. Oh! I can't wait to hear the good news they had for you! I've got all my fingers and toes crossed for you!

    (Well... not really. My toes are short and don't cross well)

  3. Good luck with that phone call. Right now I have my manuscript in the hands of six agents/editors and know how nerve racking it can be to wait to hear back from people. If I had a non-message from one of them on my phone, I would be going bonkers.

  4. We seem to be reading the same blogs, so I thought I'd stop by. My husband is always amazed at the way I can see a rejection as positive, which pretty much anything beyond a form letter is (gotta keep yourself going in some way!).

    Looking forward to hearing more on your agent call. The silence on my partial/full requests is making me nutty.

  5. Welcome, Caroline! The silence is indeed crazy-making. Every day my husband comes home and asks if there's any news... dude. Don't you think I would have CALLED YOU AT WORK, SHRIEKING LIKE A LOON if there had been any news?

  6. This is so exciting and nerve-wracking but I've got my fingers crossed for you.

    (I had to uncross them to type this comment but as soon as I press "Post Comment" they are going right back!)

  7. My guess is with no message that agent will try back in the next day or two...so stay close to your phone! You can forward your home phone to your cell, I think. There might be a charge for it but it might be worth it.

  8. Saw your blog recommended on Chatterbox Chit Chat and thought I'd stop by to say hi. That kind of phone call would make me crazy. The fact that you are showing any patience is impressive. :) Good luck! I hope they call back soon.

  9. Oh, God! You must be dying! Poor thing. I hope it's good news.

    By the way, I left something for you on my blog. Check it out.

    Lynnette Labelle

  10. Thanks for your good thoughts and support, everyone! The call was from one of the agents who only has a query letter, so the call can't possibly be an offer of representation yet... hence my patience. I recently called them to check on my status, so I don't want to overdo it with the phone calls. (If the call had been from one of the agencies that has a full, I would have called back immediately!)

    My highest hopes are still for an agency where one person in the office read my full and loved it, but the ultimate decision-maker hasn't had to time to read it yet...

  11. What a journey you are on! Thanks for sharing as I am learning so much about the process.

  12. I have everything crossed for you. GOsh I hoe that phone clal meant something good! How frustrating that they didn't leave a message. I'd be tearing my hair out!

    Hang in there! I can't wait to hear... you will share won't you???!!!

  13. good luck!

    ooo...might have to ask you some attorney questions...would that be okay?

    and i have a little award for you on my blog today....stop by!