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"