letters from the query wars

# of queries read this week: 143
# of partials/manuscripts requested: 0

Dear Authors:

Just a quick note… Sometimes I have mixed feelings when I read queries, particularly during busy periods (like right now). I always anticipate the rush of finding something that hooks me (and hard). And I’m always looking for the next story to fall in love with. At the same time, I know that it means adding to the reading in the queue, and the pressure to respond to people in a timely way. Keeping the balance can be tricky.

9 responses to “letters from the query wars

  1. Keeping the balance can be tricky.
    Indeed. And I haven’t quite figured it out yet. I’m always struggling with the balance between day job (corporate lawyer), family (twin toddlers), writing deadlines (whether under contract or self-imposed) and doing something fun/stress relieving (like, uh, crusing LJ :-)). I’m always asking myself what I’m willing to sacrifice for the writing, and I re-ask the question everyday as I juggle priorities. Not a bad problem to have, in the grand scheme of things, but troublesome nevertheless.

  2. Batting .000
    Yikes: 0 out of 143. I mean, I know that’s “normal” but it’s always intimidating to see it laid out like that.
    If I were an agent, I think the hardest thing to get used to would be saying no to all the stories I almost fell in love with. Which wouldn’t necessarily make me a better agent, but without a doubt would make me a busier, crankier one. Sláinte to anybody who manages the trick.

  3. I don’t know how you do it. With more than 100 queries/week, I’d quickly reach burnout and say “No” to everything. Then months later something would haunt me, and I’d want to give it a second chance.
    Adrianne Middleton

  4. I once read in Readers Digest, some random point in my life, a quote: “You have time for three things. Pick those three and don’t worry about the rest.”
    I kind of used that with my writing and everything else. Getting to a story or edit happens in its own schedule, the only thing I can do is go with the flow and it will get back to where it needs. Remarkably, it works in my professional life too. I just focus on one thing and Get It Done. Then move on.
    But, focusing can be hard to do, specially when you get frustrated by the lack of progress. Or you want to play. 🙂

  5. OK, that has me thinking that perhaps it’s better to submit during slow times? If so, when are the slower times for the industry?

  6. Nobody in the business world answers mail anymore unless it is in the interest of the recipient. So maybe it is a bit less than ultra-classy, but why should literary agents not do the same? I would not answer 143 letters a week. If they were of no interest I would just toss them in the trash – or the recycle bin.
    Incidentally, I have noticed on increasing numbers of agency sites that this standard business practice is being adopted by literary agents.

  7. Oh well. Thanks for the look.

  8. I just spent two weeks reading queries for an agent; my numbers are very generous compared to real agents and slush readers, but yours make a lot more sense to me now. That many queries is brain-numbing! I also like the idea of form rejections a lot better now than I did.
    Your hold on sanity is impressive. 🙂

  9. Wow. With all those queries, was it the writing or the storyline that just didn’t snag you? That’s a great deal of reading, plus having to decide if you want more has to be tough.

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