Tuesday, February 16, 2010

What Are the Odds?

I stumbled across a blog entry the other day asking the question: What are the odds of landing an agent? The writer provided some links to agent blogs, pointing out the dismally small number of new clients most agents take every year from the avalanches of query letters that come in their doors. Six new clients in a year of 38,000 queries? Ouch. Plus, we can assume that most of those new clients came from recommendations and conferences, not from queries. That's just how the business shakes out. Pretty bad, right?

Well, no. Because books are not widgets. They are creations of (hopefully) talented, intelligent humans. So how about changing the mindset a bit:

If you write a terrific novel and send a great query to an agent who is looking for just that kind of book, and who knows several editors who are also looking for that kind of book, your chances of landing an agent are wonderful.

If you write a terrible novel and send an awful query to an agent who wants nothing to do with your kind of book and can't name a single editor who wants anything like it, well, your odds are infinitely bad.

It's in your hands.


KarenG said...

Lorelei, I love your take on this. As someone who works part time for a publisher and reads unsolicited submissions, I can tell you that most of them are not just poor but horrendous, awful, terrible, with no sense of the craft at all. Try reading a query with 6 cliched expressions in the first paragraph. Or misspelled words.

Lorelei Armstrong said...

Mahalo! I bet finding a good one is a magic moment, and I bet they leap out of the dreck.