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TheEnd
04-13-2007, 08:21 PM
Hi All,

I sometimes read questions in regards to how many agents to query for your manuscript and if there is a set number to stop at. From what I've read (here and elsewhere) there is no real set answer. I guess the best answer would be "query until you get an agent!" Well, I thought I would post my numbers to give those about to query, or waiting to hear back some perspective.

I started querying agents on January 7th of this year. So between then and now, April 13th, I have sent out a total of 106 Queries and here's how it breaks down (in parenthesis is how I queried):

Waiting to hear back: 45 Queries (9 snail mail, 36 email)
Rejected: 58 Queries (28 snail mail, 30 email)
Requested partials: 1 Query (email)
Requested fulls: 2 Queries (both email)

Just to give my own personal numbers. Would love to hear what other's did for their manuscript. If you found an agent, how many queries did it take?

For all of you who are starting to feel like writing is a fruitless endeavor with no hope of representation, I say: "Keep querying". I have 58 rejections and each one of them hurt (some more than others). But it is that one time that someone requests to read your stuff that you feel a small sense of vindication that overshadows all those rejections. Keep writing and keep your heads up. The world needs good writing, because God knows, I've read some crap that should have never been published. My two pennies. Have a great weekend.

Robyn
04-14-2007, 12:41 AM
thank you for this post. I needed that right about now. I've just begun the search once more for an agent. so far about 20 sent out via email, 4 rejections. None were form just stating that they didn't feel as drawn to my work as they'd hoped. (i have a feeling it is due to the high fantasy concept in this peice.)

Anywho... i'll keep trucking away for now though.

WildScribe
04-14-2007, 01:00 AM
Wow, thank you for the great information and good for you for getting so many out there!

eric11210
04-14-2007, 01:18 AM
Well I haven't tried sending out my queries myself yet (still in the final edit and then have to get some beta readers), but here is what Stephen King says on the subject:



If you're not talented, you will not succeed. And if you're not succeeding, you should know when to quit.

When is that? I don't know. It's different for each writer. Not after six rejection slips, certainly, nor after sixty. But after six hundred? Maybe. After six thousand? My friend, after six thousand pinks, it's time you tried painting or possibly computer programming.

So, by that reasoning, you have another 5,942 rejections to rack up before you should definitely take up a paint brush. :D Keep your chin up. You'll get there.

Eric

maddythemad
04-14-2007, 01:27 AM
Just to give my own personal numbers. Would love to hear what other's did for their manuscript. If you found an agent, how many queries did it take?


It took me nine queries to find an agent, but then again, I was probably very lucky. I never did find an agent for my first novel (although I gave up much too quickly.) Keep submitting and good luck!

WildScribe
04-14-2007, 01:44 AM
Maddy, you're my hero.

Chumplet
04-14-2007, 04:20 AM
I think it took forty or fifty rejections from agents for my first novel before I sold it directly to a small publisher. I'm trying again with the second novel, and after a few nibbles, I'm running out of rope - I think I'm at about fifty. Maybe it's not high concept enough for an agent. I might send it to Harlequin myself and see what happens.

Another word of advice: Spread 'em out. Don't send fifty out all at once. You need to get some rejections back, tweak the query, and then send some more out to see if you get a better response.

Dani Dunn
04-14-2007, 04:26 AM
I won't even begin to look at how many I sent out total, but I know my early queries were poorly written. Once I posted the queries on here and other boards, I got much better feedback. I still got a lot of rejections, but now they're more personalized.

TheEnd
04-14-2007, 06:25 AM
I agree, Chumplet. I actually ended up sending the majority of queries towards the end, after it was reformed serveral times. ;-) And thanks all.

Pisarz
04-14-2007, 08:15 AM
Triple digits. That's all I'm gonna say.

Will Lavender
04-14-2007, 09:22 AM
Seems like Miss Snark has touched on this. But for the life of me I can't remember what she said. Six months of queries before you stop?

I agree with Stephen King: the writer will know when to stop. I don't think there IS a good number. You go until you're too disgusted to continue, I guess.

Good luck to everyone in this thread.

birdfeeder
04-14-2007, 07:14 PM
I believe Miss Snark says a hundred queries is a good effort.

Irysangel
04-14-2007, 09:23 PM
I got 25 rejections on my first novel that I shopped.

My second one got representation within about 2-3 weeks of shopping it (from about the 4th agent I heard from). After a year it still hasn't sold (but it's still out to 2 publishers).

I have a friend that queried 90 agents for her first novel, 102 agents for her second (she kept track of all of them) and got an agent she's extremely happy with. An editor is reading her book exclusively.

I know a gal that sent out 3 queries, and one agent called her within 2 days to offer her representation. He sold her book a week later.

It's not necessarily that your query doesn't resonate, but that the project isn't something that will sell. Just keep writing and as soon as you get a new project, shove it out the door.

Susan B
04-14-2007, 10:25 PM
Definitely an uphill climb! (Of course, then when you get an agent, it's still an uphill climb, and the stakes feel higher...sigh!)

I think a lot depends on the nature of the rejections. 50 queries and nothing but form rejections suggests something may need to be re-thought. (Maybe just changing the query letter.) But getting requests to see more, as you have--we'll, that offers some hope that you are on the right track.

Have any of the rejections given you useful information?

Good luck!

Susan

zahra
04-15-2007, 01:44 AM
I sent out eight queries before I got an agent a few years ago, but this time round, when I think I must be a better writer than then (I bloody hope so; oh, don't be silly, of course I am), it's been thirteen so far.

Sometimes other factors than your talent are against you for a while. Things change.

andracill
04-15-2007, 04:31 AM
I've received well over one hundred rejections in 15 months (and six books); seven partial requests (three turned to fulls) on five of those books; six straight full requests on four books.

Right now I have only one of those fulls still out (might be promising, but we'll see)...and I recently sent out another dozen queries on my latest (number seven).

Persistence is the key! :)

TheEnd
04-15-2007, 04:42 AM
I second that. Persistence is the key for sure. Of course a little bit of luck never hurt anyone either. ;)

Pisarz
04-15-2007, 05:22 AM
I triple that. (Is there such a thing? There is now!). After well over a hundred queries, some of them requeries, and several revisions (of the query and the novel), I'm still alive: I have six partials and two fulls floating around.

So don't stop until ALL your options are exhausted! :)

Aprylwriter
04-15-2007, 07:35 AM
I have only sent out ten queries to literary agents, and a top literary agency has already requested my partial; I would rather have them represent my novel, so I'm holding off on sending out more queries.

I guess it just depends on the writer, and how much she or he can handle-if I sent out thirty queries I'd probably would drive myself crazy trying to remember them all LOL.

Apryl

Wallflower
04-15-2007, 08:22 AM
Great thread.

I guess this is a little off-topic, but I don't think the amount of rejection one receives is always in proportion to one's talent! There are plenty of great artists who are not recognized during their lifetimes. I would never tell someone to quit an activity they enjoyed, even if they received 600 rejection letters.

(I'm a jazz musician, and unfortunately, jazz is one of the genres with the smallest audience. But just because there may not be a lot of popular interest, and just because many people might "reject" this genre, doesn't mean people should stop playing it. :) )

janetbellinger
04-15-2007, 08:47 AM
Keep querying until you run out of agents or else go back to your mss and work on it some more. There are still no guarantees, I should know, lol.

Susan B
04-23-2007, 06:01 AM
Great thread.

(I'm a jazz musician, and unfortunately, jazz is one of the genres with the smallest audience. But just because there may not be a lot of popular interest, and just because many people might "reject" this genre, doesn't mean people should stop playing it. :) )

Very interesting, the music comparison. I'm also a musician, at least part time.

I think about that a lot, the problem of genres with a small audience. I seem to have embraced two of them: the style of ethnic/folk music I play, and the memoir I wrote about this midlife passion that transformed my life.

But there's something of a difference. The music feels inherently satisfying, even if I sometimes wish my band "played out" more regularly, or realize that by being a diehard traditionalist (and never singing in English) we have a narrower audience. But our music is social and rewarding, even if I am just playing with my husband or at our regular jam sessions, or in some funky little bar with a handful of listeners and one or two couples dancing.

The book, on the other hand--well, yes, writing as a process has been wonderful. And I do feel that finishing a book is an accomplishment. And so is getting an agent. But if my agent is not able to find a publisher....then what? I wouldn't self-publish (though I didn't hesitate to self-produce our band's CD; that's pretty usual in my style of music.) I guess because writing is so solitary, it's easier to feel discouraged at the prospect of never finding an audience. It's not about money or material success for me--but being "heard" does matter.

Susan

Wallflower
04-23-2007, 07:50 AM
Susan B, what genre of music do you play? Nice to see another musician.

Susan B
04-23-2007, 08:22 AM
I play traditional Louisiana French music (ie, Cajun-Creole: all in French!) There is a pretty serious community of aficionados where I live, but overall, it has about as much mass appeal as....well, jazz :-) Actually, probably less than that....sigh!

Will Lavender
04-23-2007, 08:53 AM
Really interesting thread.

What this thread proves, to me, is this fact:

There's a lot of luck involved in getting published.

Am I right?

blacbird
04-23-2007, 10:24 AM
There's a lot of luck involved in getting published.

Am I right?

Naaaah. Ya think?

caw

Julie Worth
04-23-2007, 02:57 PM
I have sent out a total of 106 Queries and here's how it breaks down (in parenthesis is how I queried):

Waiting to hear back: 45 Queries (9 snail mail, 36 email)
Rejected: 58 Queries (28 snail mail, 30 email)
Requested partials: 1 Query (email)
Requested fulls: 2 Queries (both email)


The number of requested fulls is more important than the number of agents. Depending on your genre, 200 agents might be interested. It takes an average of 10 full reads to find a match (in my experience), so by that math, youíre not going to get there without some luck. Esp. if those 2 fulls were based on queries with no sample material attached, as those are highly prone to rejection. I suggest you retitle your book, rework your hook until it drips with sex appeal, and requery those who didnít respond, esp. those you emailed. Send it by post this time, and include sample material.

If that doesnít work, widen your net. Try agents who didnít seem that good of a match, and try a few publishers. Still no luck, put it aside and write a new book.

Will Lavender
04-23-2007, 05:32 PM
Naaaah. Ya think?

caw

It may seem obvious, but there's a lot of debate about how much luck is involved in publishing.

Some say it isn't luck at all. But because of the volume of submissions and the number of agents out there, I think there's a ton of luck with this thing. How can, for instance, one writer get lucky enough to land on agent after three queries and another writer land an agent after 100 queries and BOTH those writers go on to sell their books? That's freaky.

Doesn't Stephen King touch on this in On Writing?

TheEnd
04-23-2007, 05:48 PM
Personally, I think getting published is 1/3 talent, 1/3 timing, 1/3 luck. There is a ton of crap published that should never be, and I wonder why. I mean, look at "The Rule of Four". That book was AWFUL in my opinion. Yet it sold because one person somewhere likened it to "The Da Vinci Code". You can have all the talent in the world, and you may have written the next great thing, but without timing and luck it's just another stack of papers. However, I do wish everyone here that needed luck!

Just Me 2021
04-23-2007, 06:31 PM
Just over 120 queries.

5 requests for full mss, 8 requests for partial mss so far. Still waiting on about 40 queries for responses.

Before anyone throws stones at me for querying so many, I write literary fiction, and most agencies handle lit fict. I'm lucky that way. I know some of you have fewer options to query.

Julie Worth
04-23-2007, 07:09 PM
I have only sent out ten queries to literary agents, and a top literary agency has already requested my partial; I would rather have them represent my novel, so I'm holding off on sending out more queries.

I guess it just depends on the writer, and how much she or he can handle-if I sent out thirty queries I'd probably would drive myself crazy trying to remember them all LOL.

Apryl

Apryl, don't hold off while waiting on a partial. This is a numbers game--the chance of a partial turning into a full are about the same as a query turning into a partial, or a full turning into an offer: somewhere between one in five and one in ten.

Keep sending out queries, and don't depend on your memory. Keep track of your queries in a notebook or spreadsheet. When you get up to one hundred (or five hundred!) you'll see the value of that.

Will Lavender
04-23-2007, 08:27 PM
Personally, I think getting published is 1/3 talent, 1/3 timing, 1/3 luck. There is a ton of crap published that should never be, and I wonder why. I mean, look at "The Rule of Four". That book was AWFUL in my opinion. Yet it sold because one person somewhere likened it to "The Da Vinci Code". You can have all the talent in the world, and you may have written the next great thing, but without timing and luck it's just another stack of papers. However, I do wish everyone here that needed luck!

I actually liked The Rule of Four. It wasn't a masterpiece by any means, but it was better than Dan Brown. At least in my opinion.

Strangely enough, my editor is trying to track down the authors to see if they'll blurb my book -- which is also set on a college campus. (But it's not, rest assured, Dan Brown-esque.)

And I believe The Rule of Four was the bestselling debut novel of the '90s. Not that that means anything, I just think it's an interesting stat.

funidream
04-23-2007, 09:51 PM
I sent out over 300 queries (e and snail)
About 150 of those didn't even bother to respond.
I got over 50 requests for partials/fulls
It took me 8 months to land an agent.
It took agent almost 8 months to land a two-book deal with Berkley/Penguin.
My historical novel titled UPLAND will be on the shelves Spring of 2008.

I just got two query rejections this Saturday.

TheEnd
04-23-2007, 09:57 PM
Congrats, funidream. Great and encouraging reply.

Will Lavender
04-23-2007, 10:48 PM
I sent out over 300 queries (e and snail)
About 150 of those didn't even bother to respond.
I got over 50 requests for partials/fulls
It took me 8 months to land an agent.
It took agent almost 8 months to land a two-book deal with Berkley/Penguin.
My historical novel titled UPLAND will be on the shelves Spring of 2008.

I just got two query rejections this Saturday.

Thanks for posting this. This is tremendously useful for all the folks who post on this particular board, I think.

And congratulations! :)

blacbird
04-23-2007, 11:22 PM
It may seem obvious, but there's a lot of debate about how much luck is involved in publishing.

Some say it isn't luck at all.

The lucky say that.

caw

sunna
04-23-2007, 11:25 PM
Oh boy, did I ever need this perspective. What a great thread.

I've sent out six, and so far had two form rejections, two requests for partial (one of which has already become a rejection), and two haven't responded.
I have a long, loooooong way to go.

Jamesaritchie
04-24-2007, 12:44 AM
Really interesting thread.

What this thread proves, to me, is this fact:

There's a lot of luck involved in getting published.

Am I right?

No. There is luck in publishing, but almost all of it comes after you're published, not before. It isn't luck that makes writers choose the wrong agent, or that makes writers write poor queries that will only attract one agent in fifty. It isn't luck that makes a writer send out multiple queries that are all alike except for the agent's name, and there isn't any luck at all in choosing to send only a query letter, rather than a query plus the first two to five pages of the manuscript.

It doesn't take luck to write a really good, strong query that's well-written. It isn't luck that makes a writer choose an agent based solely on guidelines that say she does or doesn't accept a given genre.

When you sit on the other side of the desk for a while, you soon see bad luck is nearly always bad writing, bad research, and poor decisions.

Rather than saying there is no luck in getting published, I should probably say that how much luck there is rests entirely with the writer. There's as much luck as you want there to be, and as little as you choose to have.

Just like most manuscripts an agent or editor sees, most queries are poorly written, poorly researched, poorly organized, and woefully incomplete. This isn't a matter of luck, it's a decision the writer made, or lack of talent.

Just Me 2021
04-24-2007, 01:32 AM
I sent out over 300 queries (e and snail)
About 150 of those didn't even bother to respond.
I got over 50 requests for partials/fulls
It took me 8 months to land an agent.
It took agent almost 8 months to land a two-book deal with Berkley/Penguin.
My historical novel titled UPLAND will be on the shelves Spring of 2008.

I just got two query rejections this Saturday.

Thanks for posting this! Very encouraging to those of us wandering in the desert looking for a drop to drink (or an agent to request a reading.)

Prevostprincess
04-28-2007, 10:11 PM
I took 1.5 years to send out 115. I sent them out in batches. I got a total of 35 requests for the proposal (my book is a memoir). The batch method worked well for me, as I took whatever feedback I got and honed and honed.

I signed with my agent last summer and she sold the book to Random House 6 months later in a pre-empt. So, there is good news out there, if you persist. I have to admit, however, that I was getting ready to give up. I think what kept me going is the nice rejections I got, which encouraged me to keep trying. If they were all form letters, I'm sure I would have given up long ago. I think you've hit too many queries if you're getting all form letters/no encouragement. In that case, I would strongly suggest hiring someone reputable to go through your manuscript and give you unbiased feedback.

We didn't just dream of the road...
www.leavethedrivingtohim.blogspot.com (http://www.leavethedrivingtohim.blogspot.com)

Susan B
04-28-2007, 10:49 PM
I took 1.5 years to send out 115. I sent them out in batches. I got a total of 35 requests for the proposal (my book is a memoir). The batch method worked well for me, as I took whatever feedback I got and honed and honed.

I signed with my agent last summer and she sold the book to Random House 6 months later in a pre-empt. So, there is good news out there, if you persist. I have to admit, however, that I was getting ready to give up. I think what kept me going is the nice rejections I got, which encouraged me to keep trying. If they were all form letters, I'm sure I would have given up long ago. I think you've hit too many queries if you're getting all form letters/no encouragement. In that case, I would strongly suggest hiring someone reputable to go through your manuscript and give you unbiased feedback.

We didn't just dream of the road...
www.leavethedrivingtohim.blogspot.com (http://www.leavethedrivingtohim.blogspot.com)

Congratulations! Your blog and book look fascinating. A "shrink" who takes to the road in a bus :-)

Very encouraging--and interesting because of some parallels to my own experience. (Except for that final step: No publisher yet!)

I too am a therapist and wrote a memoir about an unusual midlife adventure. Also queried in batches, got almost exactly the same ratio of queries to proposal requests, got a not-right offer early on, encouraging rejections, finally an offer from a solid agent in NY. The first part of the process actually went faster for me, both in months and # of queries (about a third of what you report.) But at this point, alas, it's about five months into the submission process, and the "big houses" have been giving regretful no's to my agent. Maybe six months will be the magic number :-)

Best wishes! Will look forward to reading your book.

Susan

Prevostprincess
04-28-2007, 11:43 PM
Thanks so much, Susan. Don't give up hope!
My agent submitted to many editors (she also did it in batches - guess that's the tried and true method). We got several near misses, ie the editor loved it (I even spoke to a couple on the phone), but when they tried to get approval from higher-ups, no dice.

I had actually "grieved" the process, ie had really come to accept (well, my husband seriously doubts that, but I think I really had) I wouldn't get it published.

All it takes is that one. Now, I wake up every day thinking, "I can't believe I get to write this book!"

Yes, all the rejection makes it that much sweeter. So, in retrospect, I wouldn't have wanted it any easier, right?
WRONG!!!!!!!!!!

blacbird
04-28-2007, 11:53 PM
Yes, all the rejection makes it that much sweeter.

There exist opposing views on this matter.

caw

MelodyO
06-25-2007, 07:59 PM
I got 25 rejections on my first novel that I shopped.

My second one got representation within about 2-3 weeks of shopping it (from about the 4th agent I heard from). After a year it still hasn't sold (but it's still out to 2 publishers).

I have a friend that queried 90 agents for her first novel, 102 agents for her second (she kept track of all of them) and got an agent she's extremely happy with. An editor is reading her book exclusively.

I know a gal that sent out 3 queries, and one agent called her within 2 days to offer her representation. He sold her book a week later.

It's not necessarily that your query doesn't resonate, but that the project isn't something that will sell. Just keep writing and as soon as you get a new project, shove it out the door.

I think this is an excellent point. Let's say it's accurate that luck/timing plays a role in getting published (whether it's a bit part or a MC is up for debate) - the best way to get whacked by the lucky stick is to write a string of books so you always have something in the marketplace that might match up to the next surprise trend or what have you. I know it's disheartening to think your first second third novel might never sell, but just because you have more than one child doesn't mean you love the first one any less...even if it never does make the big leagues. ::pets first novel lovingly::

Susan B
06-29-2007, 09:42 PM
Congratulations! ... But at this point, alas, it's about five months into the submission process, and the "big houses" have been giving regretful no's to my agent. Maybe six months will be the magic number :-)


Susan

Interesting looking back at this thread, and seeing my own post of 2 months ago. A month after that, after 6 months of submissions, my luck (or whatever we want to call it!) did begin to pick up.

My agent and I finally started to hear from publishers who read the proposal for my memoir, remained interested, and wanted to look at the full manuscript. Sent it out to 2 in early June, and then a 3rd last week. So now I'm waiting, waiting. In the meantime, I've been trying to get myself to move on to something new--finishing a small project (a journal from a Balkan trip last year) that's been languishing. Doing it partly for the other folks who went on the trip, partly as a springboard to what I hope will be my next book.

Fortunately I'm going on vacation next week and will try to put all this out of my mind!

Susan

I also see that Sakamonda (not on this thread, but on many others on this forum) has sold her memoir. Great news! Details supposed to be out soon.

So maybe things are looking up more generally!

David McAfee
06-29-2007, 11:08 PM
I guess I was kind of lucky.

I started querying in mid March, sent about 25 queries, and got my agent on Apr 2.

For my second novel.

My first was a different story. I queried about 75 agents over 9 months and never got one.

Pisarz
06-29-2007, 11:54 PM
Yeah. I've been querying off and on for 18 months. Lots of revisions and requests, still no takers. I hope some day to look at all my posts in this forum as the time "before I got an agent" rather than "before I gave up writing novels." Time will tell.

mysterygrl
06-30-2007, 01:25 AM
I signed wtih my agent after sending out about 20 queries. My request rate was 50%, which I was absolutely thrilled about.

Fast-forward a year later. The book still hasn't sold.