How Many Queries Should I Send Out?

 

When you are looking for an agent, how many queries should you send?
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The short answer is: as many as it takes!
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There are several hundred literary agents out there. Once you’ve narrowed it down to agents who rep your genre, you’ll probably still have a pool of 100, 200, or more.
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You can keep sending queries until you get an agent. You can send to a lot of agents at a time — don’t wait for responses.
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You’ll want to pay attention to the responses you’re getting, or the lack of responses. Ideally, you’ll want to see your responses getting closer and closer to “please send me your manuscript.” Sometimes you’ll get feedback that helps you tweak your query. Sometimes you realize it’s not the query, it’s the book concept itself that needs to change. It’s hard to know, but be open to changing things along the way.
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Author TJ Newman of the thriller “Falling” said on a podcast that she received 41 agent rejections before she got her agent. That’s not a whole lot — it’s normal. So be persistent!

 

If you should decide to invest in some personalized counsel, I offer coaching for unpublished authors here: My Coaching Services

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Rachelle Gardner

Literary agent at Gardner Literary. Coffee & wine enthusiast (not at the same time) and dark chocolate connoisseur. I've worked in publishing since 1995 and I love talking about books!

3 Comments

  1. Mark Murata on August 17, 2021 at 9:23 PM

    I have to admit it is very easy nowadays to send out queries to agents. but each one has to be unique, especially if I ever heard that agent speak at a convention.



  2. Neurotic Workaholic on August 17, 2021 at 9:05 AM

    It’s always encouraging to me to read about successful authors who sent out dozens (and in some cases hundreds) of queries before they finally got agents. It showed their perseverance and dedication to their work, and it also gives hope to other struggling writers.



  3. Les Edgerton on August 12, 2021 at 12:48 PM

    I sent out 86 queries before I found a buyer for my first mss… and that was in the snail mail days where it often took up to six months (and beyond) before you received a reply. Not to mention the cost. Today’s writers push a button on a computer and it’s zipped off. BTW, that novel won the Violet Crown Book Award. It just makes me shake my head when I see what current writers see was a “lot” of queries… It was the first fiction published by the University of North Texas Press and the only reason it got taken was that the editor’s assistant spilled the coffee she was bringing to the editor and she had an extra ten minutes, so she idly picked up the first page (and, yes, we sent in partials with queries in those days which was costly as you also had to send in return postage) and she spied the name of her home town and kept on reading and fell in love with it. It took more luck to even get it to that point as two weeks prior, I was invited to take place in a workshop with Mary Evans, the agent for Michael Chabron, and during a break she asked if I was having trouble getting responses to it and I told her absolutely and she nodded and said Mr. Chabron had the same problem with his first novel for the same reason. His (and mine) protagonist’s were both teenaged boys, so agents and publishers saw them as YAs and there was little market for YAs in those days and to compound the problem, they were both teenaged boys. In those days (early 90’s) and that was the kiss of death as teenaged boys were the single worst demographic in publishing. Young boys, said Mary, just didn’t read. They were the worst market for books and the single best market for movies. (This was before Harry Potter( which changed everything.) She advised me to transform it into a frame book, as had Chabron, which I did, and the very next editor to see it was UNT’s and a week before she wouldn’t have seen the name of her home town as it wasn’t there. Just to show you how much luck has to do with things in publishing. Sorry for the length of this, but hope it helps someone to persevere, perhaps. Rachel, I’ve followed you for many years and am also a lover of dark chocolate. Blue skies, Les Edgerton, Author HOOKED, FINDING YOUR VOICE and others.