I think I speak for a lot of people – or at least for everyone I’ve spoken to this year – when I say that 2017 was not a great year for productivity. My one and only blog post in 2017 was a bit of a bummer, and while I liked it and may write more like it in 2018, I want to focus on moving on, blogging more often, and not letting the bastards get me down.
My second blog post of 2017 is also my final one of the year. It’s the one writers always look forward to and dread simultaneously, My Year in Queries! Long-time readers of Glass Cases know the gist by now, but as a reminder:
- I read and respond to every query I receive with these exceptions:
- Pre-queries, aka emails writers send to ask if they can query. The answer is always YES if the agent is open to queries, and if they aren’t they’ll say so on their website.
- Not addressed to me.
- Sent as an attachment.
- Mass queries, whether I’m BCC’d or one of many who are CC’d.
- Non-Query. I don’t recommend querying a book you already published (that means self-pub too). It’s unlikely an agent will be able to re-sell those for you (please refer here and here for more info). But, sometimes I get queries for published books and I legitimately don’t know if it’s a query or a press release. Those are the ones I ignore.
In those 5 categories, I received 380 queries.
In 2017, I also closed to queries over the summer. It’s something I hardly ever do so I made sure to give writers a month’s notice on my agency website, Twitter, and Publisher’s Marketplace. I updated all bios to make sure it gave the dates I’d be closed to queries. While closed, I received 203 queries that were deleted unread.
Finally, in 2017, I received 291 queries in genres/markets I do not represent. I’m not very strict about this one. If something just wasn’t a preferred sub-genre or not usually my thing, I did not count it. For “does not represent,” I meant only the genres/markets specified on the agency website. For me that means:
- Nonfiction of any kind (including memoir)
- Picture Books/Chapter Books
- Inspirational/spiritual novels
- Category romance and/or erotica
OK! Now let’s get to the 100% awesome, definitely-want-to-read-love-and-answer queries. (Note: Remember these are queries only – aka “the slush pile.” Requests from conferences, contests, referrals, or previous Revise & Resubmits were not counted.)
January: Total: 441; Requests: 1
February: Total: 407; Requests: 7
March: Total: 393; Requests: 5
April: Total: 336; Requests: 8
May: Total: 371; Requests: 7
June: Total: 327; Requests: 9
July & August: CLOSED (but received 203 anyway)
September: Total: 333; Requests: 10 (as of 9/15)
October: Total: 410; Requests: 5
November: Total: 426; Requests: 6
December: Total: 329; Requests: 4
Total Queries in 2017: 3,976
Total Requests from Queries: 62
Total R&Rs Requested in 2017: 16
*Last year someone asked me how many requests turn into Revise & Resubmits rather than flat-out rejections, so I did my best to keep track this year. Hoping to receive those revisions in 2018!*
Most Requested: Adult upmarket/literary focusing on female characters, complexities of relationships, and/or involving psychological suspense; YA contemporary from marginalized voices that aren’t issue books, but rather familiar stories with fresh perspectives; YA sci-fi with a fun ensemble cast and is not dystopian.
What I Wish I Saw More: Once again, literary/upper MG, preferably magical in some way but contemporary/realistic would be great too! Also, more YA horror, please.
Total New Clients Signed in 2017: 2 – Laura Pohl (YA sci-fi) and Alyson Greene (YA thriller).
*Note: Signing 2 or 3 new clients in a year isn’t that rare for me, but 2017 was a semi-intentional quiet year, so I’d love to see this number double or triple in 2018!
OK. So what does all of this mean? Well, it means I received more queries per month than in 2016, but since I closed in the middle of the year, I received fewer overall. It also means that of the 3,976 queries I received, 874 of them did not follow the rules, which makes the more realistic number of queries of I received in 2017 3,102.
If you’re one of those 3,102 queriers you should know how much agents appreciate writers like you! Even though we can’t take on everyone, and often can’t even take on a fraction of what we end up liking, we’re still grateful for a good query and a writer who does everything right. I hope you all end up finding agents, and if you’re among those I requested or asked for an R&R, I hope to hear from you again!
As always, remember that when agents open your query, we’re looking for reasons to request your manuscript. We don’t want to reject anything. We just have to sometimes. Rejections aren’t personal and they are very, very rarely because a book is “bad.” This is a business and our responses are business decisions. We’re still rooting for your successes even if they don’t end up being with us.
And with that… Goodbye forever, 2017! Bring on 2018.
5 thoughts on “2017: A Year in Queries”
Reading this, I’m extremely shocked I got as many full requests as I did. The version I sent out wasn’t even that good, imho. I’m now working on a different version.
Very insightful! Always boggles my mind how hard it is for some people to follow simple guidelines.
Sarah, I just wanted to say thank you. I queried you this year and you were kind enough to respond, which I know is a challenge considering all the queries you receive each month. So, thank you. Here’s to hoping 2018 brings new and thrilling literary adventures!