Quarterly Status Update

April 14th, 2010 • Kate

numbersIt was a little crazy to count up a full year of queries for my last review (in January for all of 2009), so this year, Intern Jenny and I are planning to post the stats quarterly. And can I just say? I’m already a little floored.

In the first three months of 2010, we received 1,297 queries. That includes inappropriate genres, queries cc’ed to me and several dozen of my agent colleagues, queries without sample pages, and the few, the proud, the ones that actually followed my submission guidelines. To those authors, I say: THANK YOU!

Of those queries, we requested partials on 20 manuscripts, most of which I read while I was traveling back and forth to Europe for the Bologna Book Fair.

Out of those 20 partials, we requested 3 full manuscripts, all of which are currently under consideration. I didn’t sign any new clients in the first three months of 2010. Still, just to get a full request? We’re looking at only .2% of all queries received.

I know you know this is a tough business, but I thought you’d like a look at the cold hard facts of the numbers. More specifically, those 20 partials were overwhelmingly YA — only 2 middle grade novels made the cut, and both of those were MG paranormals or contemporary fantasy. The YA was split pretty evenly between contemporary and paranormal or fantasy, with one dystopian novel. All three fulls I requested were YA fantasy.

I desperately want more great middle grade, but I’m not getting it. If you have it, please send it my way! If you have a YA novel that’s on the end of a curve for a dying trend, please think twice about its freshness. Against these numbers, can it stand on its own?

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9 Responses to “Quarterly Status Update”

  1. Liberty Says:

    O.O Wow! .2%? That's amazing! If you took out those sent as 'spam' (the CC'd), and those sent for inappropriate genre, how much do you think that number would change?

    Just goes to show you it pays to pay attention to the guidelines. I don't write MG, but still appreciate your insights into publishing.

  2. Stephanie McDonnell Says:

    Sometimes the truth hurts. I've got to admit, I'm looking into submitting to your agency in the future, and this just gives me more incentive to make sure my manuscript is perfect.

    Thanks for the honesty. Hard to hear, but inspiring just the same.

  3. Kathleen Says:

    I'm wondering if there's any chance that my idea of what's "on the end of a dying trend" is the same as an agent who's seen 1297 more ideas than I have.

  4. Kate Says:

    Kathleen – That's an EXCELLENT point. Jenny, who's sitting next to me, says you could read all day and STILL not see as many different ideas as we do on an average day.

    That said, do you feel like every other book you see on the bookshelves is about a vampire, werewolf, or fallen angel? Then you have a sense of what we see.

    Before you write a query offering a BRAND.NEW.IDEA ™, check your bookstore. Check the buzz online about upcoming lists. Talk to librarians.

    You may have found something new, in which case, we'll be thrilled to see it. But if your book can at all be described as "[Wildly popular bestseller] but with [slightly different paranormal creatures]" then maybe you're on the tail end of a trend.

  5. Kathleen Says:

    Thanks for replying! Yes, that's what I'd say is on the dying end of a trend. Not that people don't apparently still love them…but when my brain inserts the word "another" I consider it overdone. Another vampire story. Another fallen angel story. Another story that starts with a dead hero or heroine.

    But really, this is encouraging because the closest comparison I can think of for the YA fantasy I'm working on is a cross between Matrix and LOTR. Which really sounds so far out there that it's not worth even trying to use. But at least it's not "another" Matrix/LOTR story! LOL!

    Now I just have to finish writing it…

  6. Amanda Says:

    I know there's a line between YA and MG, but how do you define it?

    I'm working on a MG (I think) fantasy w/ a 12 year old female protagonist.

    (I'm nowhere near ready to query, but I'm wondering about how to define it. The beginning pages have gotten high scores in contests. Not finalist, but one or two points under the top three.) Thanks.

  7. Estee Wood Says:

    I'm going to show this blog to all my none writer friends! The ones that keep saying: "You haven't got published yet?" Um, it's a little harder than that. Thanks for the stats.

  8. Becky Says:

    Well, your description of "dying trend" reassures me somewhat, because the YA fantasy query I sent you last week has nothing to do with vampires/werewolves/fallen angels!

    These are some daunting stats, but my fingers are tightly crossed.

  9. kt literary » Blog Archive » A Year in Queries Says:

    […] post quarterly status reports on my query stats, but I seem to have missed a quarter (here’s April and July, at least). A quick recap: in the first three months of 2010, I saw 1,297 queries and […]