Sunday, June 27, 2010

Query-stats and Mint Chocolate Chip

Q: When you request a partial submission or a full submission based on the query and first ten pages, what makes or breaks the submission?

You apparently liked the beginning enough to consider representing the story. What later turned you off? Made you ask to see more of an authors work?  Make a decision to work with an author on revisions? Or compelled you to offer representation?

It's just that we writers get our hopes up when an agent requests a partial or a full ms., and often, in our minds, our story just keeps getting better ... If you liked the beginning, why wouldn't you like reading on?
The keywords are in your last paragraph:"get our hopes up" and "in our minds". You're just taking a leap and assuming that my liking the beginning and  requesting a partial or full means I am "consider[ing] repping the story".  In fact, it just means that I think it shows a bit more promise than the other dreck I have been served that week, and am willing to see a bit more.

Sort of like if I go to an ice cream parlor where they give samples, and I taste all of the flavors... and then I decide on one or two and get a couple scoops... that doesn't mean I am going to marry the cow.

So here's my guide, let's see if it helps:

Auto-reject, doesn't even get a look:  Queries that don't follow sub guidelines. Queries that are not for the types of books I represent. 20%

A brief glance at query & pages, then a quick form rejection: Queries that are not personalized to me at all (not even with my name). Sample pages that begin in any one of about 30 stock ways, so cliche that MOSES rolled his eyes when he got queried with them. Atrocious grammar and spelling. 10%

Read the query & 10 pages, form rejection: Pretty much everything -- seriously. See previous post "On Rejection" for more. 50%

Read the query & 10 pages, then nice personalized rejection: Things that are good, definitely have promise, but are just not for me. Things that have been referred to me by a client/friend or from somebody I met at a conference. 15%

Request full: There is something special here. Could be plot, could be funny dialogue, could be an awesome premise.  It might be actually super-awesome, or it might be a fluke -- just the best of a bad bunch. I just want to read more. 5%  (I don't bother to request partials, I consider the 10-page sample in the query your partial. Other agents do this differently).

Reject full with reasons:  I reject almost all fulls, but I try to at least give a bit of feedback.  Maybe I liked it but didn't love it. Maybe I loved it but didn't think I could sell it. No matter what... almost all of the Full roads end here.  Length or depth of notes depends on how much time I have, how far I got in the book and how much I found to say. 95%

Extensive notes and invite to re-submit: This is kinda rare actually. It means that I loved a LOT about the book but there was something deeply flawed about it. A deep enough flaw that I need to make sure you are actually capable of, or WANT, to fix it.  4%

I'LL TAKE IT! I am totally in love. A smitten kitten. Bring me this book!  I wanna make you a star! Seriously, I have to not only love it but also think I can sell it in order to make an offer of representation. That happens almost never. 1%


  1. This was a totally awesomely helpful post actually. I'm psychotically interested in numbers... and this was overflowing with them. I've never seen reasons and explanations on rejected fulls in a general way like this.

    Plus... it was related to ice cream. This post is full of win in so many ways.

  2. Incredibly insightful! I love seeing how the numbers play out and WHY. Thank you for breaking it down like this! :)

  3. I absolutely love this sort of post. Writers follow, peruse or attempt to become engaged with agents' blogs and these are the kinds of posts that hold my attention all the way through. More than advice and second only to horror stories, I just like hearing how a particular person does what she does.

  4. 99% of full requests still get rejected?!? Wow! This kind of information is invaluable. Thanks for taking the time to share it.

  5. Ah, the hard truth! But this knowledge makes an R so much easier. Thanks!

  6. Good to see the breakdown. Thanks!

  7. Thanks for the Stats!! Thats the geeky-statical nurse in me coming out! LOL

  8. shelley9:46 PM

    Thank you so much! painfully honest, but helpful. Thanks for taking the time to break it down. Now, to get to that 1%!


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