Last night I posted a tally of results from general over-the-transom queries. Most of you aren't going to make the mistakes that got those contenders knocked out in what is essentially Round One.
There's a category I didn't mention last night because no one qualified for it. It's the "open queries" category. That's where I put the queries that pass muster in round one but haven't the time (or mindset!) to read just then.
I had 47 of those pending tonight. I started at 10:32 pm (see a pattern emerging here?)
I finished (but did not empty the file) at 12:47pm. I can only read for a couple hours before EVERYTHING looks like schlock and I want to reject everything for the most trivial of reasons. That's a sign to put down the mouse, and pick up the shot glass.
Here are the results:
Not right for me, but good, and probably right for another agent: 1
(rejected with referral)
Derivative premise: 1
(rejected with form letter)
Good concept; execution needs more help than I want to offer: 1
(rejected with personal note)
Novel fits best into a category I don't fare well with: 3
(rejections with explanation that it truly is me, not the book)
Not right for me: nothing compelling in early pages: 3
(not quite form rejection)
Now here's the good news:
Fulls requested: 3
One is marginal-the premise is good, the writing seems ok, and there weren't enough pages in the query to really know for sure if it will work, so I erred on the side of requesting instead of rejecting;
One seems like the start of a good commercial thriller;
and, one is so beautiful and so elegant that I'm almost afraid to read it because if it splats on page 50 it's going to break my heart.
Start to finish: 12 queries in about two hours (there were some brief interruptions during that time frame)
You can see from this that ANY kind of personal reply is a huge time debit. The other part of the process that adds a significant number of minutes is cutting and pasting the pages into Word so I can double space them, reformat them into TNR 12 and actually read them.
Single spaced text with no breaks between paragraphs is absolutely un-readable on a screen. There are nights when I see these in initial queries and I just don't have it in me to say anything other than no. There's a reason I yap a lot and loudly about formatting; that's one of them.
My reward for working hard? I get to settle in for a nice couple hours and read one of my client's manuscripts. Yes I have to think about editing notes on it, but it really will be a nice way to close the day.