I've taken the slow approach to querying, sending out batches of 5 at a time. Fortunately (and yes, very surprisingly) I've gotten a bunch of requests so my query is working -- you're a wonderful teacher! All good! Now I'm wondering: should I wait and see if I get some feedback before sending out more queries? I'm sure I'll be waiting a long time for answers, but let's say I'm lucky and 4-6 months from now a rejecting agent actually gives me some helpful advice about revisions that can get me to "yes" with someone else. If I keep querying, I'll be done with my agent list by then, so I will have effectively shot my wad. And if anyone else requests the flawed manuscript, I'll have to withdraw even more submissions. In light of this, is it best to send out as many queries/manuscripts as possible or might I be wise to pace myself and see what comes back?
This is a very interesting question.
First, you're assuming you're going to get feedback at all. That's not a given.
Second, you're assuming that feedback is not from a deranged orangutan which is also not a given since anyone rejecting your novel should be assumed to be deranged as a baseline measure, right?
Third, you're assuming 4-6 months, which given the stats I've posted on requested fulls is either wildly short or wildly long.
I actually went back to my list of requested fulls and calculated the number of days between receiving a requested full and responding with my decision. (I left out any manuscripts that had been revised twixt send and decide, and left out all ms that had been withdrawn for any reason)
The time ranged from 2 to 226 days.
There were 31 ms that met the requirements.
The mean (or average) is 82 days.
The median (or midway point) is 64 days.
If you discard the bottom and top 4 values (the outliers so to speak) the median is of course still 64, but the average drops to 71 days.
So, why all the math?
If you elect to wait to query your next five agents you should use this info to plan. If you wait for the average number of days it takes me to reply, you'd query again in 71 days.
Most agents ask for 90s on fulls (I do too)
If you wait 90 days to query, just to be safe, here's what your sub schedule in 2017 will look like:
1/1/17 5 queries sent
4/1/17 5 queries sent
7/1/17 5 queries sent
10/1/17 5 queries sent
Unless you are six years old, this means you're going to be querying when you're a doddering elderly writer before you run out of agents.
In other words, I think this is a terrible idea because it hamstrings you AND is predicated on assumptions that may not be true (you're going to get feedback and it's going to be worth listening to)
When I send out a round of submissions, I send to editors I think will buy the project. I send it (generally) to everyone at once. If I hear back about why the editor has passed, I keep the info in my sub db but I don't change a thing unless I start hearing the same thing from MORE editors.
In other words, one editor (or agent's) "the pacing is too slow here" is another editor (or agent's) "oh my gosh, I really like the anticipatory build up with the long languid opening"
Query when YOU are ready.
Keep querying briskly.
If you get feedback you can revise and resubmit to most agents. We want to sell your work, not critique it. If you want to revise, most of us are happy to let you. (try not to take four years of course.)
To just wait, and hope for feedback is a surefire way to be sitting around for a good long time. I hope you brought a book!