Janet, I'm curious. If you only had to respond to queries that weren't rejections, the requests for more pages and such, how much time would it free up for you to do other things, like catching up on partials or whatever?
Twenty minutes a day. Max.
Let me elaborate. There are a couple levels of the incoming queries.
The first and easiest are books that I know aren't for me. It can be for any of the automatic rejections I have listed; it can be that I don't really want to read the book (no matter how well written) which means another agent is a much better choice for this querier; or, perhaps it just doesn't engage my interest (not bad writing but not energetic).
Those are very fast decisions. I do those twice a day, once in the morning, once at night.
Even when I type in the querier's name (I was listening to #agentfail!) it doesn't take more than ten minutes.
Then there are the queries to which I give more longer attention. That takes maybe another two hours over the course of a week. This includes reading pages, thinking about the book, doing some research maybe.
So, sum total, maybe three hours a week? I guess that's a lot of time if you think I work a 40 hour week. I don't. Not even close. (no hyena yelps from the peanut gallery suggesting it's LESS than 40!!)
The other reason I don't ever want to do "no response means no interest" is that I know most people are hoping to hear yes. I have to disappoint a lot of people every week. I don't need to be rude to them on top of it. I don't have to imply my time is more valuable than their hopes. It's not.
I'm glad to receive every single query. I don't care if you misspell my name, call me someone else, or insinuate that my Herpet-American asssssistant is too slithery for her own good: if you write well, and it's a book I want to read, I will read it. I may not offer to represent it, but I will read it.
Fuck all that other crapola about do this /do that. Write well. The end.