random answers about queries

I’ve been asked a lot of random questions about queries lately….

How many do I get in a week? At least 100.

How many requests do those queries net a week? Maybe one or two on average (some weeks as many as four(!), but some weeks there are none).

What’s my response time? On a one-page query… two-three weeks from receipt (so if you are sending it from somewhere far away and it’s snailmail, you need to allow extra time for transit; also, if you are sending it to our old office there probably won’t be a reply — the forwarding order is no longer in effect because it’s been a year and a half since we moved to 27th Street).

Here’s a pet peeve: Sending me a query letter that’s addressed to another agent. (The envelope was obviously addressed to me.) Bad mail-merge technique, I’m guessing. This happens with e-queries too. The devil is in the details, apparently.

Errors in queries: This seems to be a popular scenario… 3 seconds after the query is dropped in the postbox or after the person has hit send, the author realizes they’ve made an error. Is it a good idea to send a 2nd query with the error fixed asking the agent to disregard the first one? Hmmm, not sure. It might depend on the level of the mistake. I think queries should be carefully proofed (this would also take care of the wrong name problem). Don’t forget that they are generally the first introduction the agent will get.

Re-queries (which I understand to mean sending the same query again): I don’t think you should send the same one twice unless you’ve been invited by the agent to do so. I think you could query about a different project perhaps (though I’ll admit that when one gets a number of rapid-fire queries from the same person it might eventually start to feel a bit awkward). Of course, I don’t want to state any of this as an absolute. The market changes. Something I read 6 months ago and thought I couldn’t sell might become more commercial based on shifts in the potential audience. One does try to anticipate, and be somewhat visionary, but still. Plus, I can myself as an agent be in a different place due to various variables. It’s an art, not a science.

What am I looking for? Well, it’s a lot easier to say what I don’t want (like, picture books) than what I do want (after “great stories that I can sell” it gets a bit speculative). Plus there’s the problem of discovery. I’m all for trying new things. Once upon a time, for example, I didn’t know that I liked sushi either.

3 responses to “random answers about queries

  1. 3 seconds after the query is dropped in the postbox or after the person has hit send, the author realizes they’ve made an error.
    *snicker* I just did this to an anthology editor. Fortunately, a) the editor was expecting the file from me and b) the editor has known me for a long time, and knows that I have a tendency to send a lot of “P.S.” e-mails.
    But yeah, the first introduction can be somewhat tarnished if followed immediately by an ‘ooops.’

  2. Curious – random question about queries
    Recently I noticed that several authors I know, who published electronically, have been picked up by print publishers. So, I’m wondering – why would a publisher pick up a book that has already been published electronically? I have a fantasy series, of which the fist 6 books have been published electronically, but I haven’t queried agent or house because I thought that they would not be interested in something already out there. I know you can only speak for yourself, but I wonder if I seeing a dead-end where none really exists.

  3. Here’s a question. I’m not submitting anything as of yet, but is it bad form to send queries or manuscripts with Delivery Confirmation, the one that does not require signature?

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