3.5 Years + 231 Rejections = 1 Crazy Author

(I've been using my temporary insanity tag a lot lately. That's what querying will do to you, I guess.)

So here are statistics on three rounds of querying, including some highlights and A Chart. Let's jump right in!

("Queried From" counts from the months in which I sent out queries; it doesn't count when I got responses. "Rejections" are of the query itself. Consequently, "No Response" are also rejections.)

Queried From: May 2008 - Jan 2009 (8 months)
Queries Sent: 52
Requests: 0
Rejections: 41
No Response: 11
Request Rate: 0%
Representation Offers: 0

Air Pirates (Adult SF/F Version)
Queried From: Feb 2010 - Jun 2010 (4 months)
Queries Sent: 41
Requests: 5 = 4 partial + 1 full
Rejections: 16
No Response: 20
Request Rate: 12%
Representation Offers: 0

Air Pirates (YA Version)
Queried From: May 2011 - Oct 2011 (4 months)
Queries Sent: 140
Requests: 16 = 5 partial + 11 full
Rejections: 72
No Response: 52
Request Rate: 11%
Representation Offers: 2

Obviously, I sent out a LOT more queries for this latest version. Part of that is there are just a lot more agents repping YA than adult SF/F. Part of it is I got excited/desperate sometime around my 10th request, and, thinking I had gold on my hands, started sending queries to EVERYBODY.

It didn't work though:

Air Pirates (YA Version)
Request Rate in the 1st Half of Queries Sent: 17% (12 out of 70)
Request Rate in the 2nd Half of Queries Sent: 6% (4 out of 70)

Across all three rounds of querying:

Slowest Request: 78 days (one of two requests I got after following up on a lost query)

Fastest Request: 3 hours 45 minutes

Slowest Rejection: 1 year 24 days (the query had gotten sent to the agent's spam, but she fished it out along with a number of others)

Fastest Rejection: 55 minutes. That was Michelle Wolfson, who also gave me my...

Best Rejection: In which Michelle said she recognized my name from the comments on Kiersten White's blog. The rest of the letter was a pretty standard form, but because of the personalization, I felt like she meant it. (I also started following her on Twitter. She's fun.)

So, a couple of months in, I wanted to see a graphic of the responses to my query. I'm not sure what I hoped to glean from it -- probably I just wanted to make a chart. Here it is.

(RED = query rejection/no response deadline passed; BLUE = partial request; GREEN = full request; BROWN = partial rejected; BLACK = full rejected; GOLD = offer made).

I did learn a couple of things. (1) Most agents responded on Monday (being Tuesday here and on the chart), with Tuesday and Wednesday coming in second. (2) My emotional state in any given week had a very strong correlation to the placement of green and black circles.

(The chart also makes it look like summer responses are few, but keep in mind, too, that I doubled my query rate in the middle of August)

The fact that I got an agent exactly where the chart ends was completely unintentional, or coincidental, or God telling me something. Take your pick.

Was there anything else you wanted to know? I got all this data here; might as well do something with it.


Sarah said...

Perhaps, when you're on sub, you should make yourself a smaller/shorter chart! I'd say this is a testament to perserverance, and not letting rejections or adversity prematurely turn you away from your dream. I look forward to hearing about the next stage of your career!

R.S. Bohn said...

I think everyone wonders about the hard numbers, such as these. For instance, one writer gave up after 40 subs/rejections. I wasn't sure whether 40 was a lot or not many at all, not that there is a number one should stick to when it comes to this process.

I realize a lot of this involves more than just numbers; there's taking a fresh look at your ms, making sure you're subbing to the right agents, etc. But this is still good stuff. :)

vic caswell said...

heeheehee! love your chart!

Susan Kaye Quinn said...

I loves the data! And I understand the drop in response rate after the first 70 queries - there are a lot of YA agents out there, but only so many that are a reasonable match for anyone's given MS. And 12-20% is about the request rate I was seeing when querying too. Perseverance pays off! :)

Nicole Zoltack said...

Perseverance is definitely key!

Ruth said...

Your chart makes my colour coded list look pitiful! :D

Slowest rejection I ever got was about a year too - long after I'd trunked that novel.

Fastest request? Seven minutes. I love to tell that to anyone who asks. And anyone who didn't. I may get a t-shirt actually.

Angela Brown said...

I'm impressed you kept all the data so you could produce some great info. Glad to see that you can show with numbers that persistence and perseverence are key!

Jessica Silva said...

first things first: your chart is made of awesome.

second things second: I notice that the # of no responses seem to increase over the years. that's super interesting.

real comment: holy. I can't believe how you had motivation to keep going. like I said, much admiration for you. I'll be insane 3 months in, for sure.

Matthew MacNish said...

Nope. Just want to say I really enjoy nerding out on this with you. Good times.

D.G. Hudson said...

Thanks for sharing your stats; I'll be in submit mode in the new year, and posts like this will help me cope.

Great chart - stats give us a way of measuring ourselves. Congrats on reaching the goal!

Myrna Foster said...

I love it when you pull out the charts. :o)

Nancy Thompson said...

Believe it or not, this kind of info gives me hope. Once I had a request 75 minutes after sending the query. It was for a full. It was also in my first batch. High hopes for sure. But the rejection on that full devastated me. Now I hardly blink. Thanks for sharing, Adam.

Deniz Bevan said...

Love that chart. I'd have to scroll back through my query label in Gmail to create a similar one but I bet it's useful - you can tell whether it's the query letter that needs fixing or the MS itself...