Where Ladybugs Roar

Confessions and Passions of a Compulsive Writer

Sunday, June 13, 2010

The Glass Exists

I was recently talking with someone on Twitter about the concept of "Luck" vs. "God's Will." I know many of you don't believe in God, and that's fine, but it's something Christians take into account. When it comes to writing there is a certain "luck factor" in being published. Once you take into account all the monumental variables, you're left with that intangible variable of the right manuscript making it into the right hands at the right time.

It takes a certain amount of optimism to query. Each of the well-known agents receives around 100 or so queries a week. (Not an exaggeration.) Now, it's true that the bulk of those people shouldn't be querying that agent. (Not the right genre, manuscript not finished, they were never meant to be published) Whatever that factors out to--will be rejected and won't really be competition for you. Another fact is that most agents accept only 2 or 3 new clients a year. That's right. Out of 5,200 queries--they pick up 2 or 3. (I did the math for you-- it's .06%) On the other hand, I've seen a lot of the writers I know on Twitter picked up for representation lately. I've seen interns go through queries and so many of those are just not competition. I would bet that my competition for an agent's interest is closer to around 5 % of queries. Still, that's a lot.

The luck factor.

Query Tracker says there are 700 agents out there that accept fiction and are open to queries right now. That's a lot of agents. Nearly 300 say they accept Young Adult. Still a lot of agents. There is no way my ego can handle querying and being rejected or ignored by 300 agents. My goal is to query 150 before I reevaluate. I've been querying for a year now. I'm not admitting to how many queries I've sent out. (That's like a woman's weight as far as querying writers go.) However, I will say that 28% of the time I get a request for a full or a partial when I get a response.

So, what does this all mean? Am I complaining? Am I excited?

It's hard to say. People with OCD are, by nature, pessimistic. The world is a hostile place to us. You crazy nuts don't play by our rules. So, when it comes down to numbers, it's hard for me to be optimistic when my glass is always half empty.

But I write fiction--I believe in fantasy and strangely enough that factors into my optimism. So many variables, though. For me, the chief, trumping variable is God's will--or the luck factor for those that don't believe in God. It's not something that you can control either way. I really like to have control. My life is about control. Le Sigh.

Anyway, this was sort of rambling... and I'm watching Mythbusters at the same time. I'm guessing my family will still find the numbers interesting, though. So, that's the numbers that I face before the trumping variable. It's just... I'd like to know what that variable has in store for me.


  1. This is a great post. I'm going through the same thing right now and it's good to know I'm not alone. Good luck with your responses!

  2. I'm not in the query boat, heck I'm still trying to get my first draft finished, but I know these statics. I know you're going to have to make it or break it if you want to be published. Wendy, your agent is out there - just waiting for you to drop in. Keep it up, keep breaking through, and you'll get it.

  3. Great post, if only for the math part because dude. I'm seriously impressed that took the time to work out the percentages. However, being blessed with the negative thought producing OCD gene myself I'm now thinking "No freaking way will I ever get published - better give it up now and have some chocolate".

    However, since I believer in both God and in fantasy, I shall press forward in my writing and when I get to the query stage I'll jump in and won't think about the numbers (kind of like how I deal with our budget!)

  4. Wow. These statistics are a little daunting. I'm not at the querying stage yet. I'm writing my second manuscript-still working on edits. I'm excited to get the book done--if that ever happens.

    On the flip side, I'm scared to death to start querying. Receiving rejections is not my idea of fun. I know i will--but I also know I'll be one of the percentages that gets published.

    That's not pride talking, or a belief in luck or God or anything else. It just makes sense to me that if I keep working at this eventually it will take me where I want to go. I think that's an attitude most writers have--we probably couldn't keep writing if we didn't. :)

  5. Actually, I like that you ran the numbers on the query thing. I might not be OCD but I like knowing the percentages. I get motivated when someone tells me the odds are against me. :)

    Like... since no one on Duotrope has cracked The Boston Review as a market, I immediately decided I needed to submit to 'em. Got rejected, but whatevs. I'll try again. :)

    Keep at it, good lady. A 28% partial/full request rate is pretty damn good, by almost anyone's standards!

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