Nathan Bransford, Author

Monday, July 23, 2007

More Query Stats

Hello all, the blog is happy to return with some query stats. Hope you survived the reruns! I'm digging out from quite the full inbox, so this post will be short on analysis. Just the facts.

I received a whopping 158 queries last week, which seemed a bit more average than the previous week where I kept track of queries. 158 times 52 equals 8,216, plus the five or so I receive a day in the mail, so that translates to about 10,000 queries a year. Great googly moogly.

Here's the breakdown by genre:

Suspense/thriller/mystery: 21
Fantasy: 20
Literary fiction: 19
Young Adult: 15
How-to/Self-Help: 13
Historical fiction: 11
Science fiction: 10
Women's Fiction: 7
Picture book: 7
Memoir: 6
Religion/New Age: 5
Male Ennui: 5
Middle grade: 3
Horror/Occult: 3
Narrative nonfiction: 3
Politics/Current Events: 2
Travel memoir: 2
Poetry: 1
No freaking idea: 5

And now for some random categories:

Queries beginning with rhetorical questions: 11 (sigh)
Personalized queries: 23
Spelled my name wrong: 2 (a good week!)
Addressed to "Mr. Brown": 1
Queries that were obviously mass-mailed to a thousand agents (often with every agent's e-mail address included so we can all see where it was sent): 9
Angry e-mails from writers I had previously rejected: 2
And, finally, evil albinos: 0 (I'm as shocked as you are)

So how many partials did I request out of those 158? 7! Not bad, folks. Not bad at all. I'm looking forward to reading them once my inbox is normal.

See you tomorrow, same blog, new material.


Scoot said...

Welcome back!

DMH said...

Welcome back, Nathan!

I'm surprised all of the queries weren't personalized. You hit that point hard and explained it well.

One hundred-fifty-eight queries plus your other work--how much time do you think you spend on the average with each query?

Anonymous said...

That's funny - That's a whole heck of spam! I'll send you my query in a minute:) Nathan is my son's name, cool name.

Nathan Bransford said...


That's a good question -- honestly I'm not sure how much I spend on each query, but yesterday was quite a long day of answering queries. I'd say the average is probably two to three minutes from the time I open the query to the time I hit send on the request or rejection. Keep in mind that I read quickly.

KingM said...

So you're spending 5-6 hours a week on queries. It's no wonder that so many agents and editors turn off the spigot altogether.

Nathan Bransford said...


That's just for the query letters. I requested 210 pages worth of partials, so that's another 4-5 hours, and if I request any fulls, that's another 4-5 hours per. I do that every week for maybe one or two clients a year from the query pile if I'm lucky.

It's not a very efficient use of time, but I still keep coming back for more.

I need a nap.

A Paperback Writer said...

And how much time per week do you spend on blogging?
And has it helped you in getting better queries?

Tammie said...

I love seeing the amount of submissions by genre.

158 but only 7 that grabbed you - wow, I don't know whether to laugh or cry :o)

Glad you're back!


Dave said...

For anyone interested, Wikipedia talks about "Googly Moogly"

At the very least, R&B legend Screamin' Jay Hawkins uttered it as an exuberant exclamation of extreme excitement in "Person to Person" (1957): the line in question finding SJH extolling his far-away (cheerbabe?) girlfriend to "bring your big fine foxy great googly moogly lord-look-at-that self on home."

Frank Zappa even used it and that makes it SO FINE, for me! Zappa is my hero. The MOI my idol.

And I find it bizzare that "Male Ennui" and "No idea" totaled 10 queries.

Kim Stagliano said...

You mean Edgar Winter STILL hasn't written his autobiography? The world awaits!

Crystal Jordan said...

Welcome back! I think those evil albinos will query you next week. They're shy, lurking types, you know.

Niteowl said...

Only two Angry Rejected Writers? Woefully inadequate! I thought they were the spice of any agent's mailbox?

Perhaps you should up ramp up the Scathing Quotient in your rejection letters. Might I suggest more caps and exclamation marks? Maybe a few uncharitable comparisons to the ravings of illiterate monkeys (not to be confused with the literate ones, of course)?

Soon, the deluge of Angry Rejected Writers will sap all your will to live, leaving you with a dead stare that only perks up to suggestions of strong cocktails.

jjdebenedictis said...

158 but only 7 that grabbed you - wow, I don't know whether to laugh or cry

I'm a bit stunned - 7 x 50 = 650 pages per week.

Nathan has to read the equivalent of two novels every week in addition to the rest of his job? Yikes.

And he doesn't even get to find out how those seven books end unless he requests the full.

Janet said...

Psst, JJ, 7 X 50 = 350, so it's not quite THAT bad...

Tammie said...

"And he doesn't even get to find out how those seven books end unless he requests the full."

Good point - how frustrating.

Nathan Bransford said...

And actually, I usually request 30 pages, so it's 3 x 70 = 210. Quite a lot, but not unmanagable.

Anonymous said...

Two Questions, Nathan!:
1) Say you've read a query and partial that you've liked enough to request a full, but didn't totally love, and you start in on the full only to realize around page 80 you don't want to represent it. Do you, or do other agents, finish the full that you've(they've) requested, or chuck it aside, send rejection, and save yourself time?

I'm just curious if you make it a note to finish the fulls that you request or to see if the story gets any better toward the end or anything like that.

2) Have you ever, or do you often, receive quality queries, good partials, and then abysmal full manuscripts that leave a bad taste in your mouth? And is that sort of thing a common occurrence?


Nathan Bransford said...


Very good questions.

1) I try to finish partials and fulls, because sometimes it takes novels a little while to get going and I want to see how things end up. But if my mind is made up quickly I'll stop reading at that point.

2) I find that 99.9% of the time a work's quality is consistent throughout the entire query/partial/full process. If the query is good, chances are the partial is good, and chances are the full is good. If the query is bad, chances are the partial and full will be bad. It's just kind of the way it is.

I'll often test this process -- I might request a partial even though I'm not wowed by a query, but I've never done that and then been stunned by the partial or full.

jjdebenedictis said...

Psst, JJ, 7 X 50 = 350


That's what you get for trying to do math in your head on a Monday.

sex scenes at starbucks said...

I'm sorry people choose to respond harshly to a rejection. How sad that they don't know how to behave professionally and that such a nice guy has to deal with them.

Glad you're back, though.

Dr. Love said...

Just curious, Nathan. How many of the 7 partials you requested were from personalized queries?

astairesteps said...


You said you had 7 picture book queries. You don't rep picture books. Do you send rejection letters stating this fact, without addressing the query's merits (or lack therof), or do you pass the query along to someone in your agency who DOES rep this genre?

cate said...

I'm curious about the "No Freaking Idea" queries. Was it because the author didn't specifically state the genre in the letter? Or was it because the letter was simply unclear?

How important is it to state the genre? Some stories fit into more than one, some are a cross between commercial and literary, etc. Is it better to leave it out of the query if it's a "hybrid" or try to fit it into a genre? "Male Ennui" is a good example...

Bryan D. Catherman said...

Welcome back Mr. Brown. "Nathan Brandsferd" must be your secret identity?

By the way, how in the world could you reject my science fiction literary thriller set in a politically charged 1872 Washington D.C? No agent with half a brain would even think about rejecting a protagonist from the future who was sent back in time by New Age leader of the Occult so you've made a really, really bad choice rejecting my manuscript. Women, young adults, and readers who love travel fantasy will flock to this book. Did I tell you in my previous query letter that I drew all my own pictures for the book?

I think you should reconsider my manuscript or I may have to send in the evil albinos!

ello said...

I'm glad you are back! Your blog is great and always makes me laugh. I don't know how you do all the reading and still manage to take time out for a fun and helpful daily blog, but thanks for doing it.

Nathan Bransford said...

dr. love-

Out of the 7 I requested, 4 were specifically personalized, 3 were not. So it's not impossible to get a request without personalizing, but it really helps.


I actually don't usually specifically mention that I don't rep a genre in a rejection letter because it's too time-consuming. However, if I think it's a very strong picture book query I will pass it on to another agent at Curtis Brown who does rep pictures books, and in fact this happened just last week.


The "no freaking clue" means just that -- I read the query and had no idea what the author was writing about. Trust me, these don't fit any standard of rationality. I am contacted by lots of people who are, shall we say, a few pages short of a complete manuscript, and sometimes it's not even apparent what the work is about.

I think it's sometimes helpful to state the genre, because it's not always immediately apparent from the plot, and can help the agent get their mind in the right space when they're reading the description. However, I've found that writers aren't always great at placing their own work in a genre, so if you're not confident about it I would just skip this part. Male ennui, for instance, is a category of my own creation.

Stuart said...

Is it possible to get a genre break down of the partials you requested? Or is this considered bad form?

Just curious what's catching your eye these days. :)

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