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View Full Version : How many queries a week do agents get?



Laer Carroll
04-25-2015, 05:10 AM
I've read that many agents get several dozen queries a week, though I came across one agent who got as many as a couple of hundred.
I wonder what this means in terms of the time spent on each query, on average? Or is an average a meaningful measure? I suspect if I were an agent I reject most based upon the first few sentences.

amergina
04-25-2015, 05:29 AM
Depends on the agent, but I suspect hundreds for popular agents/agencies is pretty common.

And yes, I suspect that there's a lot of skimming to see if 1) if the book is a genre they represent 2) if the idea is something they like 3) if the writing is compelling. I also suspect that with a trained eye, this doesn't take that long to figure all that out.

Also, agenting isn't exactly a 9-5 job--many agents read queries and manuscripts off hours, since the main thrust of their job is to represent their current clients. And that's actually more involved than I think people realize.

Aggy B.
04-25-2015, 05:36 AM
Usually the first few sentences is enough to tell an agent "Nope," or "Read further." I know a lot of folks insist this can't be true, but queries are much like slush. Huge percentages of them are so poorly written and/or not the right genre/length/category for the agent being queried that it makes it easy to weed those out in a few sentences. (If you have any doubts, check out QLH. Those queries are just by folks who have done a little research and taken a stab at their first query*. Now imagine the queries written by folks who don't think to research or revise their queries.)

But how much time an agent spends on your query is one of those things you can't control. You just have to write a good one and hope for the best.

*And I'm only referring to the "first queries". Many folks craft a fine query after the second or third attempt with the help of the squirrels.

BenPanced
04-30-2015, 05:02 AM
I attended a talk by a local agent and she told about the time she had to kill email queries: she was getting 400 A DAY just in her email alone and even with two extra interns, she kept falling further and further behind in her daily business.

Old Hack
04-30-2015, 10:15 AM
Good agents get a lot of queries. I've seen reports of 40 a day, 150 a day, and in one astonishing case, 890 in the twenty four hours following a keynote speech an agent gave at a writers' conference.

Agents will often get an intern to filter out the ones which are obviously not appropriate (the submissions in genres the agent doesn't represent, the ones which are not fully literate, and so on) and these make up the bulk of the slush pile.

Slush is read at all times of the day: whenever there's a spare ten minutes, which really isn't often as agents are hugely busy.

And no, the time spent reading each one isn't a meaningful measure. Great queries can be read swiftly; dodgy ones sometimes take longer to decipher.

MandyHubbard
05-01-2015, 12:35 AM
the more established you are, the more you get, and the more likely there are interns as the preliminary screening.

When I interned it was for a very popular agent. There were 5 of us reading. And even if two of us were reading AT THE SAME TIME, we could spend 2 hours and sometimes have the exact same number of queries at the end. That's how fast they were coming in.

The quantity of my queries has steadily increased over the 5 years I've been agenting. At one point I'd get 6-8 a day. Now I probably get 20 to 25 a day (140-175/week).

quicklime
05-01-2015, 05:45 AM
I've read that many agents get several dozen queries a week, though I came across one agent who got as many as a couple of hundred.
I wonder what this means in terms of the time spent on each query, on average? Or is an average a meaningful measure? I suspect if I were an agent I reject most based upon the first few sentences.

Laer, IIRC you're a scientist.

Agents do what everyone, including you and I, do. That's why you have an abstract to begin a paper or poster: you can determine things like if you believe the writer knows their stuff, if it is a topic of interest to you, etc.....and just as I don't read an entire article on buckyballs or neutrinos and (I assume) you don't read an entire article on protein kinases in order to close with "yep, this is not my field of interest..." agents also skim looking for a match in things like interest, voice, talent, etc....

I don't say that to be argumentative or dickish, but to point out a very simple fact--it is easy to put agents on some mysterious pedestal, but they do the same sort of things you do every single day, and for the same reasons. You look at more articles, in Science and even in your local paper, than you read to end, and generally I'm sure they do too, for the same sort of reasons....