Thanks to the magic of QueryManager, I can share exactly how many queries I received this year, how many I requested, and how many clients I signed. So here goes:
When I first opened up to queries, I was averaging between 300 and 600 a month. Things have settled and I’m much closer to about 200 a month.
This year, I received 2,715 queries, requested manuscripts from 107 (3.9%) and took on 7 clients (less than 1%).
And maybe those percentages above sound really depressing. But not getting a request from any one agent doesn’t necessarily mean that there’s a problem with the manuscript itself. I requested about 4% of the queries I received, and it’s because those 4% sounded like a match for me and what I’m looking for. I saw multiple manuscripts and queries that I passed on be picked up by other agents and sold in 2017. They were a better fit, and the truth is that all agents only have so much time since our primary responsibility is to the clients we already have. So sometimes the fit or the timing isn’t quite right and we turn down stuff that we know somebody else might pick up.
Now to genre. He’s what I saw a lot (and a little) of in 2017:
Since genres are self-selected, there are some errors in the data above. “Childrens” seems to be a catch-all. Some submissions should have been categorized as picture books, some are chapter or board books (which I’m not currently looking for) and some are novels. Also, I received less middle grade than it shows above, because when I get queries for adult books they tend to be shoved in middle grade genres.
In non-fiction, there’s also some errors. There are a lot of fiction picture books that were categorized as non-fiction, so I didn’t actually receive as many non-fiction picture books as are shown (to my chagrin! I want more non-fiction in pb, mg and ya!) I also don’t remember receiving any non-fiction graphic novels (again, I would have loved to!) so I would guess that those should be categorized as fiction.
That said, overall I think this is a great snapshot of everything I received this year through QueryManager.
So what to do with all this data? Well, you’ll see that I received a larger influx of queries in the first three months of the year than in subsequent months (and I’ll bet most agents can say the same.) So in January 2017, I requested 12 out of 315 queries – or 3.8%. In September, I requested 9 out of 183 – or 4.9%. So if I was a querying author, I’d have had a better chance of being requested later in the year than I would have in January.
On a more personal level, you’ll notice I don’t receive as many non-fiction picture book, graphic novel or magical realism mg/ya submissions – and I am looking in 2018!
All that said – while I hope the above is informative or at least interesting, sometimes I feel like there’s perhaps too much focus on queries when it comes to judging an agent. Do they respond too quickly? Too slowly? Do they give personalized feedback all the time? Do they only use a form letter? What about if they request? How long does it take to read? What sort of feedback do they give? Etc.
I think there’s a lot of more important things to look at though when searching for representation – because all this focus on the query process doesn’t leave much room for discussion about how an aspiring author would know if they’re signing with a good agent or a bad one once the querying process is over. Someone could be the fastest query responder in the world, and be a terrible agent once you’ve signed.
But anyway, that’s a post for another day and I have client reading to get back to.
Happy New Year, and a happy, healthy 2018 everyone!