Tuesday, October 27, 2009

There's Too Much Confusion. I Can't Get No Relief.

Well, my dear baker's dozen of readers, as the song* says, "there's too much confusion." In August I sent out 29 queries to a batch of agents, some of whom, in retrospect, were probably not an appropriate choice for my novel. I did this with a query which, in retrospect, I concluded was weaker than it might have been. I got three positive responses -- a success rate of over 10 percent.

Since August I've sent out 26 queries to a better-targeted bunch of agents with what I sincerely think is a better query letter. The result? Nothing, nada, nil, bupkis, zilch, the sum of fuck-all. A success rate of -- the math is easy to do -- zero percent.

WTF? What conclusion should I draw from this? If I'm ever going to get some agents to actually, you know, read the damn thing, should I be sending out the flawed query to a randomly chosen batch? Am I supposed to sit down with the "bad" query letter that gets good results and the "good" query letter that gets bad results and tell them to settle their differences, mate, and produce some shiny baby masterpiece of a query letter? Should I target my agents by tossing darts at a list of their names? I mean, seriously, WTF?

* Bob Dylan, "All Along the Watchtower"


  1. What made the first query letter so bad? Did it not represent your book properly?

    I wonder about agents. Some request a specific genre, but don't take on clients in that genre. I oftentimes wonder if maybe they're so tired of the genre they represent, they are secretly seeking different books.

    Just a thought. I'm going to go get another cuppa...

  2. WTF is right. I don't even know what to tell you. Maybe send out both letters, and see if the one that you thought was "bad" continues to get results.

  3. Did I recently comment that I would love to read your query, if you were inclined to send it to me?

    I might have dreamed that I wrote that.

    Anyway, if you are inclinded to do so, I would love for you to email me your query and to provide feedback. Send it to ambertiddmurphy@gmail.com

    If ya wanna.

  4. Sorry for the constant struggle. It really is tough and sucks, sucks, sucks. Have you had your letter critiqued at all? I have the worst time writing mine. I think it took me longer to write my query than my novel.:) Good luck and hang in there. From what they say, persistance pays off. P.S. Isn't it Jimi Hendrix, "All Along the Watchtower?" (or perhaps Dylan redid it. I'm not sure?)

  5. Jennifer -- Hendrix did a version (a great version) but Dylan wrote it.

    By the way, I hope all my readers understand that my blathering posts are nothing more than me thinking out loud and sharing every stupid thought with the universe...

  6. Damn it, I never knew. Thanks for the info. I always loved that song and credited Hendrix for it!

  7. Despite the idea that "None of them along the line know what any of it is worth," the right agent will grab up your work.

    I started with a scatter-shot approach before I narrowed it down to just a handful of agents who I thought would best fit the book. If the first agent I'd sent to had taken the book, I wouldn't be with the World's Best Agent now.

    Keep making the book better would be my suggestion. Not that you asked. But, well, there ya go. If the book has some of the blog's flavor, you'll be agented soon.