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Thread: A question on queries and synopsis

  1. #1
    Write On Stanhy59's Avatar
    Join Date
    Nov 2012

    A question on queries and synopsis

    Hi all,
    I did a search, but nothing came up that answered my questions.
    I am new to querying. I started in August, and so far have queried maybe 15 agents now. I have been reading a lot of the threads here and notice people talking about having requests (as in multiple) for partials and fulls. So far, I have collected ten rejections, including one personal one that was very encouraging.

    To date, I also have only queried agencies listed in the top ranks of Publishers Marketplace. I know there are smaller agencies I will likely have better luck with, but what the heck...if I am going to get rejected, it stings less from someone at the very top. Actually, my real reasoning was that I know these agencies are the real deal, so that was one less worry.

    I have been constantly working on my query letter, trying to follow the guidelines for each agency. So it is slower than a mass email of 5 to 10 a week that I have seen recommended on here. I've been following Queryshark, as well as other sites that gave guidelines, and I have redone it several times, trying to get it the best I can.

    How many queries should I (on average) anticipate having to send, before getting a request for a partial or a full? 50? 75? 100? And when do I say, okay, back up and review everything again, the ms, the query, everything?

    And second question, several agencies ask for a synopsis, yet I am getting different guidelines about how to write one. Is there someplace where I can get good information on what most agencies look for in a synopsis? It ranges from keep it really short to several pages. I also have run across conflicting advice as to what should be in the synopsis.

    Thanks in advance for any information.

  2. #2
    storm central stormie's Avatar
    Join Date
    Feb 2005
    Still three blocks from the Atlantic Ocean
    After about five rejections on a query, revisit the query. If you get requests for partials but then they decline, revisit that first chapter to make sure it draws in the reader right away. And always, always make sure the query and ms. are polished--free of grammar and spelling errors.

    There really is no magic number for getting an agent interested. Some get positive responses right away, others it takes months.

    You seem to have done your homework, which is a great start.

    Best of luck!

  3. #3
    The colors! THE COLORS! leahzero's Avatar
    Join Date
    May 2009
    Quote Originally Posted by Stanhy59 View Post
    How many queries should I (on average) anticipate having to send, before getting a request for a partial or a full? 50? 75? 100? And when do I say, okay, back up and review everything again, the ms, the query, everything?
    No one can give you an accurate answer to this. So many factors weigh in:

    - The genre you're querying, and its relative popularity. Try querying an adult horror novel vs. a YA contemp--totally different leagues.

    - The concept/premise. Maybe you're in a hot genre, like YA SF, but you've got an overused premise, e.g. dystopian romance.

    - The agency itself. If you're querying top agencies with lots of successful clients, it'll be very hard to break in, even if your work is stunning, flawless, original, etc. It may be worth your time to query newer agents with smaller lists and fewer sales, as these agents tend to be hungrier for clients. If you get interest from them, then it's not likely to be a problem with your query/manuscript itself.

    - The query itself. The only way to determine if there might be problems with this is to post it. Get to 50 posts and share it in Query Letter Hell.

    - The manuscript itself. I don't know if you're including sample pages (you should be, unless the agency specifies not to), but this could be the culprit, too.
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  4. #4
    Procrastinator idontknowwhatimdoing's Avatar
    Join Date
    Sep 2012
    leahzero pretty much covered it all, but I just wanted to add that there's a very good thread in QLH about synopsis writing, as well as synopsis critique threads in the actual forum.

  5. #5
    Write On Stanhy59's Avatar
    Join Date
    Nov 2012
    Thanks for the input.

    Let's see; genre...this is really a humorous story, with an action/crime plot. The main character is female, so it put it into woman's.

    Agencies: Yeah.....I picked from the top tier of agencies at Publisher's Marketplace, so you have names like Trident, Marsall Lyons, Inkwell, FinePrint Lit, stuff like that. I knew going in that chances are slim to none....but you never know.... Currently I am actively researching other sources of info (like the Beware/Recommend thread here) for more likely agencies.

    The query itself: I have sent out four versions of it so far. Mostly because I keep trying to make it better. I'm trying to suck up the courage to run it through Query Shark.I have followed the traditional guidelines on it, trying to avoid amatuerish mistakes, but I am sure I am making some along the way.

    Pages: Where directly asked to, I submit what they require. Some say ten pages, some fifty, some the first X number of chapters. I have not been sending any in when it is not asked for. Should I?

    I did get a personal note back from an agent who seems to be highly regarded. She had some nice encouragement, basically saying she wasn't handling that genre now, but "strongly" encouraged me to "query widely" because there were many agents looking for just such a "fun, well written book such as this." (quotes are hers) That made me feel really good. (I had the added benefit of a referal from one of her current authors to help with that one)

    Should I come up with a boilerplate query and start sending it out in batches? I do say I am doing multiple submissions, but I confess reading on here about the number of people dealing with exclusives while they consider it makes me worry that would potentially cause trouble.

  6. #6
    all out of fucks to give quicklime's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jul 2010
    I'd recommend getting 50 posts (I'd REALLY recommend you getting them directly in QLH, critiquing) and then sub your query in QLH.

    As for how many rejections to expect, well, a 10% request rate or thereabouts is considered pretty fair. But say you sub 30 queries: You're looking at 3 requests. Will they really drop about every tenth? maybe, but that's a small enough population that you certainly can't count on it and expect to hear something good within the first 5 replies....and that's assuming the query is solid.

    Do everything in your power to get it as gooderer as you can make it BEFORE subbing anywhere.....because any agents wasted on your learning curve are just that--wasted. So go to QLH. Start by actually critiquing other queries, and follow the threads you jumped into--if you do have something people disagree with, they will tell you and explain why, which is also part of the learning process, but to learn to write queries, the fastest way, by far, is to work on other people's queries too, not just your own. And yet it is the one nobody seems to bother with. Do it; you won't make a better investment in queries unless you hire a pro to write yours, and even that's iffy, since it is your work.
    Three words that convey the meaning of six will always look better than twelve...

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