Thursday, August 16, 2007

Queries Reviewed

I'm stealing a note from Nathan Bransford and have provided below a review of the electronic queries I received over the past twenty-four hours. Nathan does it for the whole week - but I'm just not that patient.

I received 71 total electronic queries. This is definitely more than I usually get, which I think is mostly due to being listed on a new author website. Out of these, I rejected 69 and requested the first thirty pages for two. Eight of these queries were sent directly to my email address, as compared to through my agency website submission form. Six authors responded to my rejection with follow up emails requesting suggestions of where to submit. Finally, five queries have spam blockers that require registration before response.

8 thrillers/suspense

7 science fiction (4 of which were not set on Earth, which I don't handle)

6 fantasy

6 juvenile or YA (which I don't handle)

5 self-help (which I rarely handle)

5 romance (which I don't handle)

5 queries that made no sense whatsoever

5 literary fiction

4 historical fiction

4 mysteries

4 women's fiction

3 poetry collections (which I don't handle)

3 memoirs

2 adventure stories (which I rarely handle)

2 politics

1 business

1 pop culture/humor


Liz Wolfe said...

Seriously, FIVE people queried an agent electronically and then had spam blockers that require registration from you in order to reply? I'm not sure if that comes under arrogance or stupidity.
And those queries that make no sense -- Nathan has mentioned them too. I have a morbid desire to read them.

Writers' Support and Inspiration said...

I find it stunning that twenty of those queries are for genres you don't handle. What an incredible waste of your time!

And asking you to make recommendations is rather beyond the pale, in my opinion. If you were to offer, that's one thing, but to ASK?

I get frustrated sometimes when agents don't respond to my (carefully written and properly targeted) queries, but this sort of thing helps me understand why.


Robbie H said...

I'm just curious - is it common for you to read a query for a novel billed as, say, 'suspense', but you find yourself saying, "This isn't a suspense novel, it's a mystery novel!" It just seems that many authors have trouble id'ing the genre of their own books and I'm wondering if this confusion ever becomes apparent to agents.

Jonathan Lyons said...

I definitely think there's confusion when it comes to mysteries, crime, suspense, and thrillers. Suspense and thrillers often get mixed together, and most crime novels are mysteries, but typically a mystery (even a hard boiled one) would not qualify as a thriller.

Jonathan Lyons said...

I should note that out of these, there were six or seven queries that I passed on that were very close calls. These are the type that I can envision another agent requesting and even maybe seeing the book in a bookstore some day.

However, at least for me thinking I can sell it is not enough. I have to think there's potential to fall in love with the work and be committed to shepherding the project through what is often a long and arduous sales process.

Dwight's Writing Manifesto said...

Mr. Lyons,

Perchance did you notice that the e-dresses on the non-submission form emails were from gmail addresses and other webmail clients?

It seems as though when I fill out those online submission forms on my laptop (sans MS Outlook), it doesn't work. The form requires some touchpoint with Outlook that's missing.

I have not tried your form specifically, but I promise you that four out of the last four of those forms I filled out went nowhere but "Can't process because of XYZ734 malfunction" errorsville.

I had to switch to a computer using Microsoft Outlook to complete and send the form.

Just an FYI.

A Paperback Writer said...

I will smile and remember this blogpost in a week when I give the first writing assignment for the school year and receive back roughly 90 out of 100 who did not follow directions (5 others will not have done it at all).
Of course, I hope to remember all this the next time I send out a query letter as well (although I think I've learned all this already. I hope), but that won't be for a bit because I'm too busy with revisions.
Thanks for the tally. It was a good read.

Anonymous said...

Your profile specifically notes that you don't handle middle-grade projects which leaves it open to interpretation whether you handle YA. Could be the source of some of these misdirected queries.

KingM said...

For me, the tough thing about these lists is not the mismatched stuff, it's the volume of mail that must be dealt with.

When I was submitting to agents, I found myself impatient for responses. Now that I have an agent, I'm impatient for her to get through queries as quickly as possible so that she can get to the truly important stuff: my career. ;)

Sometimes they call me Kelley, sometimes Twizzle. Sometimes a lot worse. said...

I'm sort of glad to see you prefer to keep your feet firmly on Earth...I don't think I could handle it either. :) I like it here, myself.

I'm curious about your rejections. How many were form versus personal?

Jonathan Lyons said...

Most unsolicited queries get the same rejection note. On occasion we'll add a line or two.

Any rejection on a partial or full manuscript gets a personal rejection.

Sonya said...

5 queries that made no sense whatsoever

Oh, I find this intensely fascinating! I'm off to write my own query that makes no sense whatsoever, strictly for my own amusement.

Then I'll imagine myself an agent receiving said query, and postulate a reaction. Perhaps I'll e-mail it to myself.

What fun! :-)

(Jonathan, thanks for posting this. The sheer numbers involved in publishing are always fascinating to consider!)