I always knew that querying a novel was a long-odds play. I always had in my head that the odds were like 5000 to 1 against. Unfortunately it looks like I was right. I hate it when that happens.
Just read some stats from a smaller literary agency, the Nelson Literary Agency, based here in Colorado. They posted their stats from 2013 in a recent blog post that I follow. Their numbers for 2013 looked like this:
- 35,000 queries received
- 972 requests for sample pages
- 67 requests for full manuscripts
- 7 new authors signed up
This basically means that they only asked for sample pages ~3% of the time. Of those that they read samples from, they only read the full manuscript (or at least asked for it) ~7% of the time. And of those that they did read the full manuscript, they only signed ~10%. The full odds: 1 in 5000, or 0.02%. Ouch.
Of course most writers will query multiple agencies, so the overall numbers are better, maybe 1 in 500. But landing an agent is just a step toward the real end-zone, landing a book contract. So it’s still better than winning the lottery, but not exactly attractive odds either.
All this said, I knew this going in, and I’m still working on my query for Ragnarök Willie. Gotta beat those odds.
Who is with me?