letters from the query wars

# of queries read this week: 155
# of partials requested: 6
genres of partials requested: YA SF (2), epic fantasy (1), YA fantasy (1), women’s fiction (1), mystery (1)

Bless me authors, for I have sinned. It has been five weeks since I last requested any submissions based on a query. Granted, for one of those weeks I was attending the RWA National convention in San Francisco, and for two of those weeks I was on vacation with no access to queries at all. However, in those other two weeks I read 371 queries and made no submission requests. Apparently, this week I am making up the gap with 6 partials requested, though 2 of those are from the same author.

With the exception of the 2 proposals from the same author (which was a referral from a client), the other 4 were all requested because the pitch was compelling and when I read the 5 pages (included as per our submission guidelines), they were promising in some way. With regard to that, I am particularly noticing this week the number of people who do not take advantage of the opportunity to enclose the first five pages. (Conversely, I am also noticing people who take liberties with that invitation – like the person who included 30 pages, and said that 5 were not sufficient for me to make a judgement.) In any case, presuming they have read our submission guidelines (while it’s clear from some of these queries that some people don’t), why would a person not paste in those five pages?

Well, it’s looking like it may take a bit to get back to the 2-3 week response time posted on our website (which apparently does not take into account vacations or holidays). I hope most people will be patient. But I have already seen some doubles show up and they will slow me down too as I have to sort them out when they appear and be sure they are, in fact, duplicate queries (some people mention it’s a requery, some don’t). As reported on Monday, I had 455 email queries in the queue. However, due to the continuing tide of incoming letters, I have only made a net gain of 37, and the holiday weekend may very well negate that. I still haven’t counted the total snail mail queries though I am answering them as well, and those I’ve read are included in the numbers above.

Good night, and good luck.

13 responses to “letters from the query wars

  1. Good luck catching up, and may you find a gem this weekend.

  2. …the person who included 30 pages, and said that 5 were not sufficient for me to make a judgement…
    = someone who cannot read and follow instructions.

  3. Were the two YA SFs from the same author, or did the author submit in two different genres?

  4. Query wars-holiday edition
    Assuming that you attack these queries as they come in, can you tell us the date of the submissions you are up to?
    Carson Flanders

  5. Oh, the true treasures are the queries that mention how carefully the author read over the agent’s website, even mentioning a detail that proves they at least looked at the site, and still leave out those requested five pages. You gotta wonder if the instructions should blink in bright colors and 72-pt font.
    If I’m feeling particularly giving when I receive the sans-pages queries, I’ll nudge each of them to forward the pages as well. Usually, I only do that with promising queries. Only been doing it three months, but I quickly wrote up a form letter for it (bluntly pointing out this was nothing more than the bare minimum asked for on the website) because it happened so often. Some reply apologetically, some thank me for my “interest”, and a couple have been snippy about it, but so far, none have resulted in partial requests.
    Which isn’t terribly surprising, really.

  6. Conversely, I am also noticing people who take liberties with that invitation – like the person who included 30 pages, and said that 5 were not sufficient for me to make a judgement.
    I suspect that with that attitude, that one sentence would allow you to make a very accurate judgement. šŸ™‚
    How much does getting 5 pages pasted in change the ‘send me a partial’ stats, do you think? I mean, I could see a great query letter not quite working in the actual pages, so I’m guessing there have to be some query letters which *would* go to ‘partial please’ except that the prose isn’t there.
    I look forward to sending you my first five pages. šŸ™‚

  7. Resubmit
    When a person has significantly changed her manuscript, and wants to resubmit, should she indicate that it is a resubmital in the subject line of her email?

  8. Submission Guidelines question
    Hi Jennifer,
    When you are requesting a synopsis along with the query letter and first five pages, do you mean the 2 to 10 pager synopsis or the abbreviated letter that most query letters have?

  9. Good luck! I’m overwhelmed for you. šŸ™‚

  10. It’s encouraging to hear you’re making requests again! =) Hope they go well!

  11. Jennifer,
    I hope that you find some gems in those requests. šŸ™‚ Let us know what happens. šŸ™‚ I’m still working on something else before I finish my current WIP, then I can send that to you. But right now, I’m planning my wedding. šŸ™‚

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