As many blogging agents have noted, there has been quite the uptick in queries this year, and I have the stats to prove it. I received 105 queries over the past three days, which is certainly a record for a holiday weekend. Also of note: the Stephenie Meyer effect is strong. I didn’t separate out “YA Fantasy” in the YA category, but the bulk of the YA queries I received were YA Fantasy, plus 13 adult fantasy queries.
On to the stats:
Young adult: 19
Literary fiction: 14
Women’s fiction: 8
Male ennui: 5
Historical fiction: 4
Science Fiction 3
Short Story collection: 2
Picture book: 2
No freaking clue: 4
Of those 105 queries, 35 were personalized (33%) and I requested two partials (2%)
Some more fun categories:
People who “didn’t take no for an answer” and sent me their partial after I had already passed (please note: this doesn’t work): 2
Queries sent as nothing but an attachment (which I deleted): 2
Queries that misspelled the word “query” or “blog”: 3
Addressed “Dear Literary Agent” or other impersonal opener: 8
And, of course, queries beginning with a rhetorical question: 4
Did any of those queries who did not personalize it to you get a partial request?
Love the blog, by the way.
Eva Ulian says
I think mine comes under “No Freaking Clue”- But look as I might I’ve not seen any other agent dealing in that category, so does it mean you are the only one handling that niche- Gosh I don’t have much choice then do I? I love the way you take all this cheek!
Not. One. Horror. I’m an idiot. But I can’t help it.
I’m beginning to think the figure of 2% is some universal number, like pi. In direct mail advertising, 2% is considered a good return. Hey, in this economy, it’s just nice to be in the black.
Thanks for the stats, Nathan.
Aaron Stephens says
I also believe that 2% is the acceptable number for the defective rate of electronics.
I don’t need to add fireworks and the 1812 overture to my query. What was I thinking?
I’ll just write a really good book.
Although it wouldn’t hurt if the moment someone opened my query a love potion perfume engulfed them. Then not only would they represent me, but they’d fall in love with me and do my every bidding.
This is a really good plan. Anyone know the technology for a love potion perfume?
Who said the fantasy genre was dead?
I’m not sure whether I should be pleased or depressed that none of those were for diet humor (what I am currently writing).
Seems I have a corner on the diet humor market, but I think I’m beginning to look like an overweight hooker standing out under this corner streetlight all by myself.
Love the “no freaking clue” category! I think I’ll takle that one next! :p
Nathan, when you turn people down do you give them all the same response?
Kourtnie McKenzie says
So, if you’re a [high] fantasy writer that’s been working on a novel for two years and it happens to be on the lieu of the Stephenie Meyer’s wave that you decide your manuscript is ready and begin querying, does it reflect on your manuscript poorly? I swear this genre and I had a relationship before the vampire thing became big.
I wonder if the fantasy has anything to the increase in sci-fi/fantasy tv shows like Life On Mars, Dr Who, Torchwood, Merlin and probably a million others in the US.
Thank goodness I decided NOT to write that book about a teenage vampire and his dragon friend who uncover a deep and historical conspiracy involving religious cult members and global warming. Whew!
Glad to know it’s a good thing to mention following a blog or website. I have actually stayed away from that in the past thinking it seemed corny and brown-nosy.
So looks like a switch to Western might be a good idea for me since I write YA and middle-grade fantasy.
105 queries in three days.
The mind boggles. I laughed at your breakdown stats, too. I suppose it’s a bit weird, but I don’t find those stats (and the query stats other agents have posted lately) to be so terrible…at least from my perspective. It just goes to show how important it is to follow guidelines. I’m a bit surprised that so many fail to do so.
I was going to query you about a picture book that’s sort of a cross between a Western, no freaking clue, and male ennui. Looks like it might be a tough sell though in this market.
Kim Kasch says
Dear Ms. Literary Agent. I read your Blogg all the thyme.
I wanted to send you a quiry but had no freaking clue what to right.
Wow, if you request 2 partials every 3 days then you’re reading 243 partials a year. If you request fulls for 2-5% of these then you’re reading 5-12 manuscripts a year. That’s up to 3x the amount of books that the average American reads in a year.
On the other hand, if you get 105 queries every three days, you get a total of 12,775 queries a year of which 12,532 will get a flat out rejection letter.
So . . . were the last three days representative?
I vote for bloug and quiry.
Despite the excellent advice you give on your blog, these query stats have managed to terrify me. Is that a good thing?
I don’t know about anyone else but this is some of the best and honest information I have read on this process. It gives me an honest look at what we are all up against…including myself.
Note to self:
1. Don’t send on a holiday weekend. Try mid-week on some random week when nothing is going on.
2. Use spell check! Smart people do!
3. Show how unique I really am…;) (not a problem for the most part)
Have you gotten any haiku queries, like this agent is asking for? 🙂
Laura D says
I’m not sure what genre my WIP fits into.
It’s about a flawed psychiatrist treating a traumatized child, who is the only link to a sick pedophile and possible child killer on the loose. Under pressure from the hospital, police, the media and the whole community, the psychiatrist’s very reputation is at stake, while at the same time the case is opening the wounds of her own abusive childhood. Her memories resurface, clouding her judgement regarding her patient. She seems the unlikeliest person to be able to break through to this child, who refuses to speak.
The only way is to face her own past, her own fears, dead on. Her dedication to her profession and her sheer will, compell her to try to heal herself, so she can heal this child and hopefully help catch a killer.
In a nutshell, that’s its’ bare bones.
I would maybe call it psychological thriller.
Nathan Bransford says
Yeah, that sounds about right, actually, plus my clients’ manuscripts. Lots of reading in this job!
Amber Lynn Argyle, I agree with your comment about the YA Fantasy thing going on for a while. I work at a public library, and there seem to be a ton of books that fit in to this category. They’re as varied as the “regular fiction” books. I have noticed that most of the YA fantasy that we carry are of the series variety.
Scotty – also at our library, we regularly have people ask us for the “horror” section. So I know people want to read it….
Nathan, thanks for the stats!
Hello, Nathan. I was one of the people you met at the agent speed dating at the SF writer’s conference. You asked me to email you after you heard my pitch.
I’m just trying to find out how many sample pages I should send, because I see nothing on the blog to let me know.
Please, I really want to know so I can follow up on my pitch.
Hi Nathan, as a crime writer I’d love to see some kind of breakdown of the 13 Mystery/Suspense/Thriller queries. Not that I expect you to go back, analyse them, and provide an exhaustive list of sub-genres, but I was wondering if there are themes that recur?
Like are they mostly irate-loner-tackles-bad-guys-after-family-murdered? Or do they tend towards the lady-huntley’s-body-found-in-aristocratic-library? Or naieve-divorcee-moves-to-town-with-big-nasty-secret?
I’d love if you posted a whole bunch of queries, they sound like great fun to read. Do you ever find yourself rolling round the floor laughing?
“I was going to query you about a picture book that’s sort of a cross between a Western, no freaking clue, and male ennui. Looks like it might be a tough sell though in this market.”
Thanks for that Anonymous! I just about peed my pants! LOL
M. L. Kiner says
“The Hong Kong Connection” is a legal thriller about a gutsy female attorney who takes on high ranking International officials. It’s a taut, rollercoaster of a ride from New York to Palm Beach to Washington D.C. to Hong Kong. The plot is expertly woven, the characters persuasive, and the dialogue snappy and spot on.
You failed to mention one genre.
My 200,000 word novel is about a sorority of vampires and their use of blood orange martinis to terrorize and ultimately bend to their control the entire student body. I deemed it straight horror, but my readers tell me it is in fact horrorble. Here’s hoping that category isn’t overstocked:)
What amazes me about this post is that only about 15 percent of your queries during this period, if I read the categories correctly, consists of nonfiction. What, I wonder, is the general ratio of fiction to nonfiction in your queries, Nathan? And what (for another post perhaps) is the ratio of fiction to nonfiction queries that lead to your request for more material?
Ad Astra Per Aspera says
Okay, here is my two-part theory as to why you have received so many queries, including mine.
1) There are still many unemployed people who have the time now to write the novel or polish the novel that has been within them for years, maybe more, as they dealt with the daily grind.
2) If I remember correctly, the bottom dropped out of publishing around Dec. 2008 when several publishers and more than a few agents announced that they were not taking any more new clients (authors). That literary fatwa has begun to loosen up some, and so the manuscripts are showing up again. You can only stricture writers for so long.