Some of you asked for details. How many queries did I send? How many rejections did I get? How many requests for fulls & partials? How many foot massages did I offer before finally landing the amazing Michelle Wolfson (who subsequently landed me a three-book deal)?
Fortunately, I saved all my original notes from my query days. It took awhile to compile statistics, and before I share, here’s some background:
- I sent my first queries in late summer 2006 and my last mid-December 2006. Snail mail was common, and accounted for nearly 50% of my queries. Things have changed since then. Nearly everything is electronic now, and the only piece of printed correspondence I’ve swapped with my agent in 2.5 years is a contract.
- Because I had already sold a book to Harlequin/Silhouette when the line collapsed and left me orphaned, I was considered “published” by two or three agents I queried. In a couple cases, this resulted in phone calls or an expedited query process, but in most cases, I was part of the regular slush pile.
- As a result of the whole sold-a-book-that-never-got-published thing, several agents asked to see the orphaned novel (the rights were reverted to me). Since I knew I wanted to go a different direction with my career, I was more intent on querying a new book I’d written in a different genre. Know what’s interesting? Neither of those novels – not the one that originally sold to Harlequin/Silhouette, and not the one that snagged offers of representation from four agents – has sold today. I don’t say that to be discouraging. I say it to point out the publishing industry is fickle. Just because agents or editors love a book doesn’t mean it’s destined to land on bookshelves. This is one reason it’s crucial to find an agent who is passionate about your whole career – not just one book.
So without further ado, here are my stats from 2006:
Number of queries
Rejections of initial query
Zero response to initial query
Partials requested & rejected
Fulls requested & rejected
Fulls/partials requested, then zero agent response
Agents who quit or closed to queries
Agents who referred me to other agents
Agents who offered representation
Fulls/partials requested after I had already signed with another agent
Agents who requested full, then bowed out when I issued a deadline upon receiving other offers
Bizarre photocopied full request w/ no agent name, no mention of my name or my book, and no email address given for follow-up questions
Some random, interesting tidbits:
- Of the 4 referrals I received from agents saying, “I’m not the right agent for this, but try my colleague so-and-so,” two resulted in offers of representation from so-and-so.
- Prior to querying, I made a chart of agents and their requirements using agentquery. Then I cross-referenced it with info gathered from the agents’ own websites. If they differed, I trusted what was listed on the agent sites.
- One of the agents who requested a full and ultimately rejected it contacted me out of the blue two years later to wish me well and say she always wonders if I’m “the one who got away.” (Totally made my day).
- I did not, in fact, provide foot massages to any prospective agents (though I have a standing offer to Michelle to let my dog lick her feet if she so desires).
- No matter how polished your query is or how much homework you’ve done, you will screw something up. I guarantee it. Consider this when you send your initial queries. Do you want to contact your “dream agent” with a query you’ll kick yourself about in a month, or do you want to save him/her for when you’ve learned a few things by trial & error? I got a whole lot more requests in my third month of querying than I did in my first because my query got better. I thank my lucky stars Michelle Wolfson was in the last batch of agents I queried because she didn’t get to see what an idiot I could be (I saved the idiot thing for later in our relationship).
- As I’ve shared before, I initially signed with another agent and then left amicably after a year upon realizing it just wasn’t the right fit. This happens, and it’s no one’s fault. Lucky for me, I knew Michelle was the right agent for me, and she was still willing to take me on a year after she made that initial offer.
Ready? Set? Go!
And happy querying to all!