I just finished going to a pitch conference at The Loft (Minneapolis). As is usual with these events, there were education sessions, often involving panels of agents. In one, the agents discussed how many queries they get. One of the participants allowed as how she gets 4,000 or so annually. Asked how many projects she took on last year, she said, “Seven.”
I put these data out to make people (well, me) feel better about querying and getting no response. The agent in question averred that she reads all the queries. If she gives each one five minutes, she spends 40% of a normal year reading queries.
Technology is disrupting so many modes of communication, and this is surely one. Gone are the days when a query letter needed to be printed out, folded, slipped into an envelope with a SASE (does anyone even recognize that term anymore?). Then, if the agent responded, 9×12 envelope, lots of paper, lots of postage. But now, the barriers to communication have dropped so low that agents are flooded.
Which brings up Rogers’ Rule Nine: The amount of relevant information in the world has been growing at a fairly regular rate, while
total information has been growing exponentially. On the savannah, one additional piece of data probably meant the likelihood of eating and not being eaten increased measurably. There were explosions of relevant information in China and Greece, but still pretty linear. Gutenberg, the damn German, bent the curve, then Mad Ave, then the computer. Now, we spend significant life overhead finding the good stuff.
Back in the day, I would have queried a dozen agents (perhaps sequentially). Now I can query twenty, fifty or one hundred. And every other query writer out there is doing the same thing.
Guess I’d better get to it.