How Many Queries Does it Take?

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If you’re a querying writer looking for representation, knowing how other writers fared in the process is sometimes really valuable.

This was brought to home when I saw a thread on Facebook writer’s group I belong to that discussed how many queries it took to get that writer the agent. I was surprised at most of the answers, which were in the 50-100 range.

I decided to ask Book Twitter. Earlier this week, I conducted an unscientific Twitter poll in the writing community asking “How many queries did it take you before you landed your agent?”

I put the poll up for 24 hours.  286 people responded. There’s no way to tell how many were actual agented writers, but I’ll go ahead and hope they were.

The Results

For an overwhelming 53% of respondents, it took under 50 queries to sign with an agent.

  • The next largest category was 22%, for whom it took 50-100 queries.
  • Then 13% that it took 100-150.
  • Finally 12% took 150+ queries.

Here were some of the individual tweets to me about it:

What Worked

There are certain conclusions to be drawn that so many writers took under 50 to get to yes. It was likely that the writer had:

  • A well written and eye catching query
  • A solid and saleable manuscript
  • A professional feel

In other words, the writer was ready.

Do not slit your wrists if you are 150+

I think the hazard of this poll is to assume that if you’re in the 100-150 or 150 range, that you have no hope.

That’s a dangerous assumption because it clearly does take that many for some people. The caveat is, as Mike says, that there’s a difference between casting a wide net and simply not having good enough work. It’s hard to objectively assess that with your own work. But if you have a high request rate and you’re just sending out queries while you wait, the numbers could pile up. That’s different from 100 queries and no requests.

Some of the respondents to the poll had some huge successes.

Gina Denny told me, “This was my third MS. The first was a niche market, queried at only a handful of niche-market small presses. The second was queried too soon – 70ish queries, with only 10 requests, including multiple R&Rs that asked for wildly different things. This MS was my third. It got me into PitchWars in 2014, and then racked up only 27 queries and had ten requests on those 27 queries.”

Wendy Sparrow said,

Conclusion

I would be careful about writing off your query if you’re over 50 and haven’t gotten The Call yet.

That said, if you’re not getting many requests for materials, and you’re over 50, then it might be your query or your manuscript. It’s worth taking a moment to review and revise.

Next week, we’re going to post some of the queries that got an agent with 50 or less sent out, so stay tuned!

And leave us a comment with your thoughts about this.

 

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