Monday, January 04, 2021

2020 query and request stats

Queries: lots (and quite tasty!)

probably close to 2000 but that's down by about 50% from previous years 

Requested fulls 2020: 16 

Of those 16, 2 were revise and resend requests from previous years

Of those 16, 15 were requested after receiving a query in the slush (93%!)

Of those 16, 1 was from a referral. 


Inventory carried over from 2019: 26
Requested, not received: 1
Still pending: 1 (received on 12/25/20) 

Total ms read in 2010: 40
Still pending: 1 (received on 12/25/20) 

I requested far fewer manuscripts this year

34% of the number I requested in 2019 (46)
18% of the number I requested in 2018 (86)
13% of the number I requested in 2017 (118)

Some of that was on purpose: I was very tired of always being behind on my reading; of asking writers to be patient past 90 days as a norm and too often for more than 180 days. I HATED that, and the only way to get on top of the problem was to quit feeding the queue. I got VERY particular about what asked for.

Some of it was the pandemic: Almost nothing looked appealing for almost five months. I know it was my eye, not the mss. It took a long time to regain my appetite. I spent much of that five months reading old favorites: Dick Francis, Robert Crais, Lee Child.

The most consistent flaw in requested mss was pacing and tension. Without tension there's nothing to hold my interest. If I'm not actively wondering what happens next by page 50, it's an almost certain pass.

(more on tension in a blog post tomorrow)

The good news though for those of you who did get passes from me: 

Two of the books I passed on now  have publishing contracts, and one writer signed with another agent but has not yet sold. So three of the 16 books (or about 18%) had favorable results, just not with me. Remember this when you get a pass. Keep querying. What's not right for one agent can be just what someone else is looking for, and you've just seen the stats that support that.

Final tally: 

New clients signed in 2020: 2

1 from 2020 query; 1 from 2019 query. 

Any questions?


C. Dan Castro said...

The stats are interesting; thanks for the inside look. Idea for a future blog posting: where an agent's time goes. Besides reading queries and manuscripts, there's about a thousand other things to do. What gets priority? What can writers do to make an agent's life easier, and better still, change them from possible clients to actual clients?

E.M. Goldsmith said...

Great information and insight into agent life. Do you think most agents slowed down a bit due to pandemic?

I have found it hard to concentrate on anything at all in the last 9 months.I lost a good friend over the holiday - Mark Sellars passed away after a three year battle with advanced lung cancer on New Year's Eve. He left behind a wife and two children. I worked with him for ten years, smart and always a since of humor even under extreme dead lines and stress, even after his diagnosis with cancer, he continued to work. He loved and was loved by the team at the district. The school district also lost a teacher to COVID on Christmas Day, an elementary school teacher that was loved inside the community and did so much for their school. They left behind a wife and two small children. So feeling a bit shell-shocked coming into 2021.

Hoping for brighter days and better books.

Unknown said...

I love seeing these numbers (even as depressing as they always are when you consider your odds when querying), especially while in the trenches. As great as something like QueryTracker is, this just shows how small a percentage of submitters actually log things on there. It's daunting.

Happy new year to everyone. Got any good writing resolutions?

CynthiaMc said...

Happy New Year! Thanks for the info. It's always interesting to see how things break out.

Heather Wardell said...

Janet, why do you think the number of queries went down so much? Pandemic-related? (Not that nearly 2000 isn't still quite a few!)

Lisa Bodenheim said...

Thanks for this. I did job stats too, between Christmas and New Year. It's a wonderful way to wrap up a year.

Looking forward to your post on tension!

Janet Reid said...

Heather The number of queries went down because I changed agencies in Nov 2019 and it took a while for people to find me and for my contact info to get updated.

John Davis Frain said...

I love that someone sent you a Christmas gift ... and even better, you accepted it and asked for more!

41 days until Valentine's. Prepare yourself for the deluge you've invited! If you prefer to see if Janet O'Reid prefers the luck o' the Irish, you'd be encouraged to hold out 72 days.

Gives y'all plenty of time for the final edit(s).

Keep writing. May the numbers be with you.

Beth Carpenter said...

I always enjoy seeing the stats. It makes me realize what a miracle getting an agent and selling really is. Congratulations to the two new clients!

Kae Ridwyn said...

Yay! I love these blogposts; seeing things from an agent's perspective is always enlightening :)
Thank you Janet, congratulations to your new clients, and Happy New Year to you all!

Joseph S. said...

Interesting . . . and discouraging data.

Heather Wardell said...

Thank you for the reply! Makes total sense, and I hope the new agency is suitable for our QotKU!

Luralee said...

Thank you for sharing the numbers. I actually find them encouraging. Sure, 1 out of 2000 sounds daunting, but 1 out of 16 is not bad at all. I’m off to check pacing and tension in my first 50 pages.
Happy New Year everyone!

Luralee said...

Thank you for sharing the numbers. I actually find them encouraging. Sure, 1 out of 2000 sounds daunting, but 1 out of 16 is not bad at all. I’m off to check pacing and tension in my first 50 pages.
Happy New Year everyone!

Katja said...

Wow, this was very interesting to read!!

I'm hoping to be querying you in 2022. I'm hoping for the pandemic to be gone by then. I'm hoping for you to be selective but that it would mean your taste includes the stuff that I scribble. I know it's unlikely that I succeed but I can still hope and try, I hope. 😁

Katja said...

P.S. I think there is something positive about these stats, even if they might look discouraging: getting an agent isn't impossible and the numbers could improve our writing.

OK, maybe I'm wrong but I suddenly feel like 'I wanna be one of those 16' at least. Like, it makes me strive.
Sorry if it makes no sense or if *I* make no sense.

I still wanna.

KMK said...

Happy New Year...and thank you for sharing the stats! I do wonder about one thing, though. Query stats reflect one moment with one project at a particular time. Is there any insight on writers who keep trying, keep coming back with new, presumably better, projects? I didn't get signed until the third MS, and I bet I'm not the only one. It might (or might NOT!) be encouraging to know if the odds improve on the next try.

NLiu said...

KMK there is such a site! Hannah Holt has a very useful blog where she gives stats based on surveys for various things regarding debut authors. She includes info on how many books they wrote/queried before “the one”, but also things like how much money they made and whether they switched agent or got asked to write a series after their first book, etc. She's only covered YA and children's books so far, but she did discover three (or four) was the magic number for the majority of traditionally published debut authors in the YA category. Here's the link.