April Showers and Query Statistics

So, I had this really great plan of digging a hole in my back yard and putting a tree in it. I dug a hole, didn’t get a tree, and then it rained. Because I have heavy clay soil, I got to bucket the water out of the hole…about 100 gallons or so. And then I didn’t get a tree and it rained again. I’m not taking the water out of that hole three times, so until I get an elm tree to my house, I have a mini-pool.

Since my last post, I’ve submitted 10 queries and received three rejections. For the reference of other writers who may hit on my blog, I’m going to post my agent query stats and notes about each. If it helps someone, that’s great:

Melissa Jegelinski (The Knight Agency)
Emailed Query: 06/2010
Received Rejection (after follow-up): 11/2010
Time Elapsed: 17 weeks
Notes: My first query letter ever and it wasn’t even close to what a query should look like. I also submitted as adult science fiction when it is actually YA. I believe this was actually a rejection by non-response.

Sarah Megibow (The Nelson Agency)
Emailed Query: 01/2011
Received Rejection: Same day
Notes: I actually submitted this twice. The first time, I thought the query might have been dumped automatically as the office was on vacation. I was happy about this as I mentioned that I submitted because I thought their dog Chutney was cute. I submitted the following Monday and was once again rejected immediately. I submitted it as adult science fiction. Query letter still not in proper format. I would love to work with this agency, but I doubt it will be with JB.

Caitlan Blasdell (Liza Dawson Associates)
Emailed Query: 01/2011
Received Rejection: Immediately
Notes: Don’t send query letters to agents that aren’t accepting queries. Its annoying for them and embarrassing for you.

Sarah Davies (The Greenhouse)
Emailed Query: 03/04
Received Rejection: 03/08
Notes: She felt that the voice was not strong enough for YA for her to take the project on. This may have been actual, as opposed to form, feedback. If it is, I give Ms. Davies my heart felt thanks.

Weronika Janczuk, D4EO
Submitted Full Manuscript by request: 3/12
Received Pass with feedback: 03/18
Notes: She thought the concept was wonderful and that it was backed up by great writing, characters, voice, etc, but that she didn’t feel she was the right agent. Her tastes for YA are more literary. She encouraged me to query widely. Weronika Janczuk has two blogs, both of which are linked on right. I’d love to work with her too.

Susie Townsend (Fine Print Literary Agency)
Emailed Query: 3/19
Received Rejection: 3/21
Notes: She thought she was not the right agent for the project. The query letter started with a hypothetical describing the prologue chapter. In hindsight, it was not a good idea.

Jennifer Jackson (Donald Maass Literary Agency)
Emailed Query: 3/19
Received Rejection: 3/21
Notes: Second agent to reject on same ‘hypothetical’ query letter. I don’t recommend inviting agents to put themselves in your character’s situation. Unless maybe it’s funny…which my prologue isn’t.

Molly Jaffa (Folio Lit)
Emailed Query: 3/27
Received Rejection: 3/27
Notes: She rejected this, same day, on a Sunday. I thought that was odd. I imagine that agents do work some on the weekend to keep up with everything they have to do. She said she didn’t feel she was the right agent.

Melissa Jegelinski (The Knight Agency)
Emailed Query: 3/19
Received Rejection: 3/29
Notes: Yes, this is a re-query. Yes, that’s a no-no. But, in I’m rather new at this. The query letter and the novel had both undergone substantial edits over nine months. And the rule about re-querying, which I read about after I sent this query, is apparently not hard and fast. Two rejections, though, for the same manuscript is all I’m willing to bother Ms. Jegelinski with.

Diana Fox (Fox Literary Agency)
Emailed Query: 3/29
Received Rejection: 4/3
Note: Submission materials still need work, apparently.

Elana Roth (Caren Johnson Literary Agency)
Emailed Query: 3/29
Receive Rejection: 4/11
Note: Yep. Still needs work.

It’s about this time when I got brave and decided to rework everything. I wrote a new query from scratch (including a true logline for the first time) and I tailored it for the biggest name on my list. John Silbersack of Trident Media Group. He’s the guy who represents the estate of Frank Herbert. With all of these rejections, was I really going to be audacious and send this man a query? Why not…by all accounts he’s a nice guy and a great agent. The query is still active, and I have my fingers crossed because I would love to work with him.

Nicole Resciniti (The Seymour Agency)
Emailed Query: 4/15
Received Rejection: 4/16
Note: The Seymour Agency’s owner is a devout Christian, though Ms. Resciniti may not be. I played the conservative card. It didn’t win the hand.

As of right now, I have 18 queries out for January Black. Most of them have ‘no reply-means-no’ dates in September, so it’s still very early to write any of them off. Every agent in the world tells writers that the industry is very subjective. Keep reading, keep writing, and keep submitting, because all it takes is one yes to get you in the door. I admit that I am a little frustrated by the process, but I am committed to not letting rejection upset me. The worst that will happen is that I don’t find an agent and I have to self-publish. That would not be the end of the world.

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