If you haven’t yet finished your queries, please continue to leave your requests and rejections!
But also, please note a programming change: I’m changing the deadline to Saturday night Pacific time, at which time I’m going to close the query threads so I can start compiling some stats. Monday morning I’ll reveal which queries were for books that went on to be published and reveal the Superstar Agents.
Now then. When I announced the contest I really had no idea how this would go. I thought there was a chance people would only make it through five queries and think “This is hard,” or people would breeze through all 50 and think, “Is that all?”
So. For those who have already ventured into the land of agentdom, how was it? Was reading through 50 queries easier or harder than you thought it was going to be?
(And allow me to brag that I made it through 76 real ones yesterday.)
Only 50 – 75 pages of material a day… you’re joking! I scanned the letters in twenty minutes flat, dropped most in an imaginary discard pile awaiting a form letter politely rejecting the query. Several went into a ‘maybe’ pile to consider after my lengthy lunch. Maybe three went into my ‘yes’ pile for a form letter requesting a ms. Now it’s your turn to do my job. Trying being a university teacher, reading easily as much on a daily basis while correcting the spelling, grammar and syntax, structural faults, facts, thesis development and support. In place of a form letter, please provide a detailed comments sheet explaining the above and justifying the assigned grade. Then meet with a minimum of ten percent of your ‘clients’ to recap everything above (warning: some of them will cry).
Hire me as a literary agent, please. I need a holiday.
(Oh, and how do I have time to do this today if I’m so busy? I should have said, ‘try my former job’. You think I was joking? Hire me.)
Nathan Bransford says
Better wait and see how well you did before getting smug!
Harder, in that it took a lot longer than I expected it might. I suppose once I developed a better feel for which interesting story ideas just have less-than-stellar queries, it might go faster.
#4 #10 #11 #12 #32
This was fun but ridiculously tedious.
I truly don’t see how you can do it day in and day out, Nathan.
This really wasn’t worse than going through 45 badly written help desk tickets in a day while having to do complicated problem solving in-between. And I got to do this from the comfort of my living room with nice music, television in the background, and my SO nearby instead of with terrible tinny music that can’t be turned off while sitting in a rigidly un-ergonomic and soul-sucking cubical farm with harsh overhead fluorescent light.
But I will amend to say that I’m also probably crap at this, I can see how it gets tedious and brain-numbing. I’m also very glad you provided us this opportunity. It’s a fun exercise to do at least once.
The hardest part for me was narrowing down the requests for partials. I still haven’t made my final decision, but have narrowed it down to 18 possibles.
A lot of queries had potential, but I couldn’t tell from the query alone whether or not the writing in the actual story would be any good.
I submitted a query of my own too, for a novel that did not exist, mainly because I didn’t know if there would be enough queries available for the contest. Obviously I underestimated the willingness of authors to receive free feedback! The number of people who flat out rejected my query because it was fantasy surprised me (or perhaps that was the easy thing to point to so that they wouldn’t have to mention it was also badly written). I think that is the main difference between authors playing at agents and agents themselves. Agents definitely have to focus on what they enjoy, but it helps if they enjoy lots of different things.
Laurel Amberdine says
Just now got a chance to go through all these. It was about as difficult as I expected, but then I’ve seen a lot of queries. No clue how I did on my picks. That will be interesting.
Looking the long list of rejections on every entry kinda gave me the willies though. And flashbacks. Ugh. *shiver*
Doing this is a BRILLIANT idea. You’re the best!
SuzieQ Agent4U says
Reading through the queries and deciding which were good letters and what I liked was no problem. Trying to guess which three have been published made it trickier.
I’m not convinced that just because a book has been published means it’s more marketable than a great book at the query stage. The latter just hasn’t had its chance yet.
I read scripts for a playwright’s conference, so I knew what I was in for. (The crankiness of Blogger was something I did not expect.)
14, 16, 39, 40, 48
I decided to give myself one day to go through the list. Honestly, Nathan, I don’t know how you do it day in and out.
Jenn S. says
The overall difficulty was about what I expected. It was easy to reject most of the queries; I wound up with a short list of about ten. Those were more difficult to cut in half.
Having pages made it easier to make decisions. Query letters are important, but ultimately it’s the writing that tips the scales for me. If I were an agent, my submission requirements would include the first five or ten pages pasted into the email.
I think the hardest thing about the process was realizing that I need to read more widely. Trying not to accept or reject queries based on my genre interest is one thing; determining marketability is quite another.
My picks: 24, 26, 37, 46, 50
R. Markiam says
I’m on the road this week with internet access in brief bursts at Panera. This forced me to use the “blink” model and made the project seem almost easy. In an hour on the first read I had 3 yes, 6 maybe and 41 no. Then I took another half hour deciding which 2 of the 6 maybes to put in the yes group. If I had been at home it probably would have been a whole different project.
Venus Vaughn says
Before the results are posted I’m going to list my picks all in one place.
I gave a yes to 9, 11, 15, 33, 46
And honorable mention to 1, 10, 12, 14, 20, 21, 31, 35, 36.
No matter the results, I learned a lot. *fingers crossed for a win*