State of the Inbox Address 2

Hello, dear authors!

I have answered all queries sent prior to 9/14/11. If you have not received a response to your query sent 9/14/11 and earlier, please do re-query. The spam watchdog ate it.

I have responded to all requested material prior to 9/25/11. If you have not received a response to requested material sent 9/24/11 and earlier, please do resend it. The spam watchdog ate it.

Don’t worry. I’m catching up! But now that I’ve gotten a moment to breathe and can tread water queries for a moment, I thought I’d update everybody on the flood.

Because I think it’s interesting and fun, here are the stats:

From June through December, 2011 I received a whopping 2,433 queries.

Of those, I have requested more material for 136, or about .06%.

Of those, I have requested a full manuscript for 29, or about 0.01%.

Of those, I have made an offer-of-representation to 4, or roughly 0.002%.

Of those, I sold half to publishers with the others still in waiting.

Number of clients I signed through referral or scouted myself: 3

Number of books I sold for them: 3

Number of 2011 queries waiting to be read: 800, give or take.

What does this mean? I have no idea, it’s just fun.

More fun things I noticed while buried under my tsunami of queries:

The meanest response to a rejection letter I’ve ever gotten: “Fuck you very much.” I was actually on the fence about requesting a proposal for this one, and my first thought after reading his response: wow. I’m so glad I didn’t request—I could have wound up working with you…

Email is a social lubricant. It makes saying uncomfortable things easier. So to combat the slipperiness, do this: if you’re angry, wait three days, and if you still want to respond that way, go ahead.

The most condescending response to a rejection letter: “You were ‘just not hooked enough’? Are you serious? Maybe you should try reading what I wrote. Try this on for size and just read it:” [the bulk of his manuscript had been pasted into the email]. Good times.

The nicest response to a rejection letter: “Thanks for your time, anyway, Lauren.” These come surprisingly often. I don’t need a response to my rejections, but I admire the people who have written that response. It’s got to be pretty hard to get rejected after months of waiting and find the calm within yourself to be level-headed about it. Authors, I am not the judge of you. I am the judge of me and what I like and what I can sell. I’m not qualified to judge your book definitively. No one is. The authors who respond in this way, I like to think, know this.

The highest number of times I was queried with the same author and book: 6.

The most off-putting start to a query: “If tons of money and career praise are not valuable to you, then read no further…”

Runner-up: “The book just fell together effortlessly…”

Why would I want to read something into which you put no effort?

Number of queries I received bearing no title, genre, word count or proper author name: 46

Most common genres in my slushpile: YA, general fiction, romance, mystery, middle-grade, self-help, memoir and women’s fiction. And that’s okay with me.

What I’d like to see more of? Upmarket commercial fiction.

My hopes (dare I say, goal?) for 2012: double sales! And to keep my slush pile under control. =)

Here’s to 2012 and the next query-tsunami! Keep ’em coming!


Posted on January 13, 2012, in queries, rejection, slush pile, submissions and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 14 Comments.

  1. Dear Lauren,

    I have tried, I think unsuccessfully, to beat your SPAM monster.

    I first queried you in July 2011 and received your kind request for a partial submission of Beneath the Lion’s Wings, a women’s contemporary fiction. I emailed the submission package on August 23rd and then followed up on November 11th . Now, just having read your blog post, I’m giving it another try and using a Hotmail address instead of my Italian account. I’ve sent you the original query letter, sample chapters and the synopsis all in one Word doc file. I do hope you receive it.

    Keeping my fingers crossed!

    Marie Ohanesian Nardin
    Venice, Italy

  2. A huge WOW to those statistics – that’s crazy! I just sent a query your way, so here’s hoping that I make it into the smaller statistics. Also, a big thanks for welcoming the tsunami of query hopefuls; it makes me feel better about contributing to the 800 e-mails. You rock for sharing all this in your blog!

  3. Thanks for the insight Lauren! This was so interesting. I love your awesome, sunny attitude and the fact that you’re encouraging a query tsunami 🙂 I admit that I thought my query may have been caught in the spam trap of death, but am glad to know it’s more than likely safely in the inbox! Also, this response made me laugh:”Maybe you should try reading what I wrote. Try this on for size and just read it”. Really? Does the author ACTUALLY think you’d reconsider?! Comments like these never encourage anything positive!

  4. Thanks, Lauren. This was a great post — sobering, yet oddly encouraging! It feels good to be one of the 136!

    Tim Fox
    Author of the middle grade manuscript, “Journeys; An Ice Age Adventure.”

  5. Hahahahahaa…. Lauren, loved the off-putting queries, winner *and* runner-up. I couldn’t help but think, “seriously??” I’m currently polishing my first novel and I have zero querying experience, so perhaps I shouldn’t laugh quite so hard–I’m bound to make a few blunders of my own eventually, I’m sure 😀

    The bit about you not being the judge of the author, or the definitive judge of a manuscript, is pure brilliance, Lauren. I’ve printed it and will keep it next to my screen (in bright fuchsia) for when I start querying. It’s hard to get rejections; I’ve published a few short stories, but at least double the number have been rejected, and–yes, it’s hard. I can imagine with a novel, inked in sweat, blood and tears, it’s even harder, but your words put it into such great perspective. Thanks for that (and the laughs)!

    Happy weekend!

  6. It is so interesting to hear the other side of it. I guess I didn’t really think about how it must be for the agent. I ended up self publishing after being rejected quite a few times and am enjoying the experience of people actually reading my book. I hope you get through 2012 unscathed:)

  7. Thanks for the info about the percentage of projects you’ve sold. It’s the thing I most wish I’d known about my first agent before I signed with her.

    Hopeful writers, do ask this.

  8. I’m sorry that you ever get mean emails. I am so grateful to anyone who sends any type of response in this world of no responses 🙂 If you can’t stomach rejection, writing is definitely not the correct career for you to be in.

  9. And here I thought it was just authors that were having a hard time keeping up! Loved the post! Needed a chuckle!

  10. I found this post really motivating and absolutely fascinating, and have posted a recommendation to read it on my RWA online chapter messageboard. I’ve read many comments/rejections from agents over the years which say, ‘we get thousands of queries every year.’ Somehow it didn’t really sink in. But to see hard stats from an individual agent was extremely powerful. As someone who’s been buiilding a steady pile of full/partial rejections over the last couple of years, I’ve had lots of demotivated days. But seeing Lauren’s actual numbers on full and partials, I’m thinking, ‘Ok:maybe my work doesn’t quite suck as much as I thought it did?!’ And as somebody who’s just staggered in from their day job (it’s a lot later where I am:)), I’m looking at the numbers and thinking, how on earth does any agent find any hours to do anything else? Hats off, lady!

  11. It’s amazing, Lauren, how many queries you (and other agents) get. It’s a pretty difficult decision process to reject so many (without a second thought) and to end with a few books to represent in the end. Practically, your hopes should not be to double the sales but to find that huge best sellet like “Twlight” who will pay your bills forever. Good luck!

  12. It’s good to hear you say this: “Authors, I am not the judge of you. I am the judge of me and what I like and what I can sell. I’m not qualified to judge your book definitively. No one is.”

    I think you’re right, most of us know that, but it’s nicer to receive that affirmation. 🙂

  13. Thanks for sharing this info, Lauren. It’s always nice to see how things work for an agent 😉
    Eek, 800 queries? I wish you luck! (and extra time!)

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