Thank you for the helpful - if devastating - reality-check statistics. But oh Lord, they make for depressing reading. So, of the eleventy-zillion queries you got this year (which is pretty much over), you requested about 50-odd fulls. Then
> of the 50+ manuscripts I've read this year (so far) I read all the way to the end on about five
and the ending of one of those
> left me screeching with frustration.
This leads me directly to my question [which feels like biting down on a sore tooth that you KNOW you should just leave alone]: Assuming the screechy one fails to eventually pass muster (and I know that's not by any means a foregone conclusion) it would leave you with four submissions that you've read to the last page.
Can you give us any idea as to how many of these four manuscripts you're likely to accept? Gosh, it's getting dark in these woodlands.
At the end of the year, I requested 51 manuscripts and I offered rep on one, and the author signed with me. Her book hasn't sold yet.
I have a follow-up question for Janet: On what percentage of rejected fulls do you provide at least some feedback? Feedback could be anything from a simple "I got bored and stopped reading on page 7" (which I agree with Robert Ceres is super-useful) to a more detailed critique of what is and isn't working.
Almost all. And one thing I've learned to do is specifically tell the writers it's ok to ask follow up questions as long as it's not along the lines of "what branch of the Dunderhead family are you from?"
I think one of the biggest changes I've made in how I practice my trade is soliciting communication from queriers/writers. Hearing their questions, seeing what they're worried about, getting their responses to my comments has been an incredible source of information for me.
When I first started in this biz, authors were told never to reply to query rejections at any stage. Sit down, shut up, be grateful you got your query/manuscript read. To say this led to some feelings of resentment is to say the Titanic ran into an ice cube.
I'm not sure when or how I got the idea to ask for responses. I think you blog readers helped me see the value of it first.
I will say I think it's made me a much better agent both for writers I represent and those I don't. I have a much better visualization of that rodent wheel you're on!
This is an interesting question. I put books on the DNF list with some frequency. As others have mentioned, time is in short supply and there's always that next book on the nightstand.I don't know about anyone else, but I've read novels all the way to the end that needed a lot of work, but I just had to keep reading. However, if I didn't understand what was going on, I probably stopped reading. Those kinds of books aren't right for me. I don't like to be confused, but I do like to be surprised.
However, a couple of my favorite novels started veerrryy slowly. I'm so glad I hung in there until they grabbed me. One of them, a six-book series, is at the top of my all-time list, and I only learned later that it comes with a companion book to explain the darn thing. I didn't understand what was going on for at least the first 100 pages of the initial book.
So...how in the heck does an agent last long enough to get hooked on some of this stuff?
In fact, I love to be surprised. One of my favorite things when reading is to put the book down just to catch my breath and think "wow, I did not see that one coming!"
The latest book to do that to me is Nick Petrie's new one Burning Bright which I mentioned to ya'll back in September.