A while back, an agent I follow on Twitter said something that had me flipping my lid. She casually mentioned that she had received over 20,000 queries so far this year.
That’s 20-THOUSAND. With a T.
I was like, well, if she takes on, say, twenty new clients this year, I would have pretty good odd. It’s one in a thousand, right? How hard could that be?
I mentioned this to another writer at one of the conventions I attended this year. We started talking about math, and standing out, and whatnot, and then another writer joined our conversation and said, “That’s nothing. Agent so-and-so, said she received 50,000 this year.
50,000? That’s when I started to think that maybe all of these self-published writers are onto something.
But it got better…One of the panelists I was watching decided to make everyone’s head explode and say that her agent has received over 80,000 queries this year. And mind you, that was in September.
Okay. Let’s take a breath and then break this down:
80,000 queries in 8 months (we’re rounding to make this easier) makes 10,000 per month, roughly 2500 per week, and about 333 per day.
These numbers are probably on the extreme high-end, but just for fun, let’s say it’s a good idea to consider them the norm. While you’re sending out your query letter, consider the fact that your novel could very well be 1 out of 80,000.
The agent receiving that volume of queries will likely give your query letter a couple of seconds of consideration. Just long enough to read the first sentence or two and decide “not for us.”
So you’ve got to figure out what you can possibly do to stick out. What can make you stand out from other authors in the genre? What can you do to separate your book from similar titles in the genre?
This is no easy task. And to be honest, it’s one I have yet to master, since my record in the agent query game was 0-50 with Holy Fudgesicles before I found a publisher.
So again, how do you stand out? What do you do? I think the most important thing is to perfect your log line, or elevator pitch. Get that 20-30 word description down and open your query (or pitch) with it.
And in those twenty words, you’ve got to convey three things:
- Who is the protagonist?
- What does he/she want?
- What makes your novel different than the rest?
I think if you can do that, you should be able to increase the odds of the agent at least finishing your query letter, and maybe even asking for pages. Or maybe even end up getting an offer?
Who know? Like I said, it’s not easy. But it’s not impossible either. There are, after all, published authors in the world, so that means it can be done.
So don’t feel discouraged about these numbers. If anything, get inspired, and continue pushing yourself to improve and write the best damn book you can imagine.
What about you? What has your experience with query letters been like? Have you got any page requests? Found an agent? Leave a comment and let us know!