letters from the query wars 1.27.2012

# of queries responded to last week: 156
# of partials/manuscripts requested: 1
genre of partials/manuscripts requested: YA-steampunk

# of queries responded to this week: 151
# of partials/manuscripts requested: 3
genre of partials/manuscripts requested: contemporary fantasy, urban fantasy, YA-steampunk

I don’t subscribe to the “no response means no” policy. I attempt to reply to every query sent to query.jjackson@maassagency.com

In an ideal world, the queries received include a query letter (with pitch), a short synopsis (1-5 pages) and the first five pages of the novel.

Frequently, the account also receives what is categorized as a pre-query. Example: “Are you accepting submissions?” (See above. Self evident. Also as indicated by submission guidelines.) Or inquiries like: “Do you accept [insert genre here]?” (Both cases this week are listed as areas currently of interest on our website.)

Bluntly, these are nearly always questions that could be answered by visiting our website or doing a google search. However, in the interests of improving said results, what common information does not appear that could perhaps be included in the guidelines?

3 responses to “letters from the query wars 1.27.2012

  1. It’s *possible* that some folks who query about things they could easily have looked up themselves are trying to pre-engage. It would be the query version of “do you come here often?” Something to say before taking a deep breath and leaping in with both feet. That leap can be hard to take.

    Not that you can divine that from their emails. And no matter the reason, it is a waste of your time, so it really doesn’t help.

  2. One minor thing you might consider posting is what you consider “standard” manuscript format, only because there seems to be a general debate over whether it’s Courier all the way or if Times New Roman is also acceptable. Other than that, your guidelines are very clear and easy to follow, especially since they have their own page on the website and everything. 😀

    I also have a question. Under the submission guidelines on the agency website, it states to paste your first five pages and a synopsis into the body of the email. It then goes on to say that if the agent in question likes what he/she sees, they will go on to request sample chapters and a synopsis.

    I was wondering how the second synopsis differed from the first? Or am I just over thinking this due to pregnancy brain?

    Thank you very much for blogging about your query stats. I find it very helpful to see what you’re requesting and how many queries you’re receiving. I also think you’re a hero for continuing to respond to all queries instead of adopting the “No response means no” policy. Seeing your weekly stats just confirms how busy agents are with queries alone, but from the author’s side it’s hard to decide what to do when there is a “NRMN” policy in place, especially if response times are varied. We can’t help but wonder if the query got lost, or if the agent has even read it yet, especially with the advent of the Internet. Some agents respond back within a few days while others take a more standard time of a few weeks, creating a time discrepancy.

    So thanks again!

  3. The question for me is when does the writer know when the NR has happened? I ask this because I sent 63 queries on my first novel (BTMTK) of which more than 50% were NR. Then, just as I completed my second book (DON), I received a request for a full manuscript on a BTMTK query I sent 17 months before. Just wondering! Jennifer, I look forward to you query wars posts.

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