Dear Rachelle: You’ve blogged about how to write a good query letter, but what about the stage after a successful query, when several agents have requested partials or fulls? How many requested partials or fulls become clients? Could a dozen agents be interested enough to take a look, but none of them love it enough to take it on? What are the odds of getting an agent if you have a strong query?
Here are my thoughts: I don’t know the percentage of requested partials and fulls that become clients, but I also think it’s irrelevant information. You can’t apply a generalized statistic to an individual, so stats would be meaningless. Plus, this is not a game based on “odds” because all the players are not equal. For example: about zero percent of writers with uninteresting queries become clients. 100% of writers with queries that knock my socks off will get a request for a partial or full. So you can’t learn much from trying to calculate the odds.
But the question addresses an important point: What if a dozen agents request a partial or full, but nobody goes the next step and offers representation? Then you have a problem. Your query is good, and possibly your first few pages (if they were included with the query) were also promising. But the book itself is failing to deliver. Pay attention to this! It may be time to get some help evaluating your manuscript and try to determine what you can improve.
You could just doggedly keep submitting to agents and that might do the trick. But if numerous agents are reading your manuscript (not just your query) and you still have no agent, seriously consider whether you need to stop submitting and fix your book or write a new one.
It’s easy to focus on the query, because it’s the first step in grabbing the attention of someone who can help get your book published. But don’t forget, the process can easily end with the query if the book isn’t carrying the reader all the way through. Like I’ve said many times before, most of your focus should be on your book. Continually be open to learning how to improve your writing. Even writers with multiple published books are still learning.
So where are you in this process? Have you received requests for a partial or full? Got an agent yet? If not, how are you planning to proceed?
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