Nathan Bransford, Author

Tuesday, September 4, 2007

Mini Query Stats

Hope everyone had a lovely Labor Day weekend. It was so nice of the sun to stop by this weekend -- it sometimes forgets we poor San Franciscans exist in the summer.

As promised by the subject line: query stats! A special Labor Day edition of query stats. Get excited.

Let's quickly get our mandatory Tuesday The Hills breakdown out of the way: I think I could watch Justin Bobby talk to Audrina for... I don't know, a really long time. Hours. It's transfixing, sort of like how I imagine it would have been watching Picasso paint, only if Picasso looked like a pirate and drove an El Camino. Meanwhile, Audrina likens her relationship with Justin Bobby to a "roller-coaster ride." Yes. Quite. Sort of like a roller coaster that only goes downhill, repeatedly ditches its passengers mid-air, and bursts into flames at the end. Oh, and the roller coaster doesn't want to be called a "roller coaster" because it's not into labels.

Ok. Whew. On to the query stats. These are from the three day weekend, during which I received 47 queries.

Suspense/thriller/mystery: 8
Fantasy: 8
Young Adult: 8
Literary fiction: 3
Science fiction: 3
Memoir: 3
Middle grade: 3
How-to/Self-Help: 2
Religion/New Age: 2
Women's Fiction: 2
Historical fiction: 1
Male Ennui: 1
No freaking idea: 3

Of these, I requested.... one partial. From a regular blog reader and commenter.

How many of the 47 were personalized? Only nine. Nine!! Out of 47!! Meanwhile, 4 were addressed to "sir" or "To Whom it May Concern," and 2 more were obviously mass-mailed (and several more than that were semi-obviously mass-mailed but with a better macro).

Some more fun stats:

Queries beginning with rhetorical questions: 2
Queries for trilogies (or longer): 5

And there you have it.


anotherkatie said...

To Whom it May Concern:

I am seeking representation for my novel entitled Captain El Camino in the South Pacific. I would tell you the genre, but I'm not into labels.

Keepin it real,
Justin Bobby

PS I've been told my narrative voice is very similar to Johnny Depp's.

sex scenes at starbucks said...

Yea for the request, whoever you are! Good luck.

Conduit said...

Nathan, if you don't mind me asking, of the recent partials you've requested from your e-slush, have there been any unifying themes over and above the seemingly obvious things like getting your name right? In other words, has anything in particular been tickling your fancy on a regular basis?

Or, on the other hand, is there anything that's been a big thematic no-no?

Nathan Bransford said...


I don't think there's a pattern, no. I'm always in general looking for the same thing: something that is fresh, original and well-written. Beyond that I don't think it's possible to discern too much of a pattern.

words in words out said...

According to Perez our little Heidi was out shopping for wedding dresses! Girl does know how to play to the cameras :) Think they're REALLY getting married? And what was with that moldy looking mustache on Spencer's face? UGH! JustinBobby may be dirty, but at least you can throw a bag over his head and pretend it's Johnny Depp! (Great query Katie!)

Anonymous said...

I love the stats that you post. I'd be curious as to what category the ones you request fall into.

This time it's only one, but if you want to give some across the board data, that would be interesting.

Conduit said...

Thanks, Nathan.

Anonymous said...

I find your stats interesting, too. Here's a question. Since (I'm assuming here) most authors cold-querying you probably have day jobs, you'd receive a disproportionate amount of email queries over the weekend. If this is so, wouldn't it make sense to wait a few days (say, like at 10am on a Thursday) and sending the email query on, say, Thursday when the agent's inbox may be cleaner? It just seems like if a writer did this, his/her query wouldn't be lumped in with the other 40 queries the agent accumulated in his inbox over the weekend. Is th ere any merit to such a "query timing theory"?

A Paperback Writer said...

Only 2 rhetorical questions? (oh wait, that was a rhetorical question. sorry.)
This is cause for celebration. Nathan, the goddesses of blogging are smiling upon you.

Danette Haworth said...

Hi Nathan,

I think authors may be querying you on MG novels because they're unsure if MG is included YA (especially if it's upper MG). But I remember you said on AW you don't rep MG.

The stats are educational--thanks for posting them.

Nathan Bransford said...


I give all queries the same amount of attention, whether they're in a big batch that came in over a weekend or in dribs and drabs during the work day. At least for me I don't think there's a particular advantage to querying at one time or another.

Sophie W. said...

Does anybody else get a mental picture of a typing emu when they read "male ennui," or is it just me?

And yes, that was a rhetorical question.

Angie said...

I just have to ask (and this is not a rhetorical question) just what is the "male ennui" genre all about? I'm trying to figure out what that could be and I just get this bemused expression on my face and no concrete ideas. Am I missing a trend here...?

BTW, it was 103 here in Long Beach yesterday. San Francisco can have some of our current heat any time you want, just let me know. :P


Kimber An said...

Those are fun stats. I've heard the issue Anon was talking about. The fact is, I live a very full Real Life. I have to squeeze in query-sending into a tight schedule. This means I don't have time to worry about the Query Timing Theory. I just do my darnedest to put out the best query I can and then put it out of my mind - until I receive a request.

Kim Stagliano said...

Only 9 personalized? Wow. That's pathetic. Do you just chuck those right out and not even bother to read them?

Jocelyn said...

Ok, your analysis of Justin/Bobby was fantastic! I think I fell a little bit in love with you!

Just stumbled upon your blog and absolutely love it... :)

Church Lady said...

I will echo Danette about the MG confusion. If I remember correctly, it states that you accept juvenile fiction. Maybe it's on AgentQuery or Publishers Marketplace. Anyway, that's why you're getting these queries.

Could you post a running list of the rhetorical questions? Oh, please! It would be SOOO much fun!


Ozal said...

Just curious about the 'trilogy or longer' stat - were they all literally saying please buy my fabulous series in its entirety? Or are you including those that mention the possibility of sequels if you are interested?
Or do you consider both types equally annoying?

Jen said...

angie -

Nathan describes "male ennui" in an earlier post, try using the blogger search engine and you should find it easy.

As for query stats -
Only 2 RQ's? YEAH! Maybe you're finally winning the fight...

Phoenix said...

Church Lady:

Nathan requested a partial for my (upper) MG not too, too long ago. Could be he's just nicer to the people who frequent his blog, though...

Kimber An said...

I'm with Ozal. What's the deal with a debut trilogy being sold? I've read all over cyberspace that agents cringe at pitches for series from unpublished authors. I don't know how many times I've been told to make the first one stand-alone.

Redzilla said...

Has the Unrelenting Fury of Nathan Bransford finally punched a whole in the space/time/rhetorical question continuum?

Probably just a weird coincidence, as you'd expect more letter to be personalized if more people were ready about your Unrelenting Fury...

JDuncan said...

Nathan, I'm curious about querying on multi-book stories, i.e. trilogies, etc. I'm assuming that some, if not all of them were in the fantasy genre, and given how fantasies, at least of the epic variety tend to not be self-contained novels with sequels, but a massive story broken down into manageable bits, how do you deal with these? George Martin's agent didn't tell him to get the whole story done before submitting (thank god), but can a debut author get away with this?

I ask because I have written book one of a trilogy, but it honestly seems a little impractical to write an entire trilogy if the first one won't garner any interest. Is it merely the concern that an author won't complete books two and three if they haven't been written yet? I have been beating my head bloody on the keyboard trying to nail down a query for a story that is three books long but only one third complete. Any words of wisdom you have on this would be greatly appreciated.


urbansherpa said...

My question for JDuncan is... why must your project be a trilogy?

The first Star Wars was a complete story... same with the first Harry Potter?

As for dangling plot points, if you write them skillfully enough you can create closure (an ending) AND a longing for more without having to insist that your story is only complete in trilogy form.

Nathan can (and should) correct me if I'm wrong here, but my understanding is that publishers like series or two or three books deals, if the genre and circumstances are right, because it's more bang for their buck.

Example: they often make the same financial deal for all three books. And if your series takes off, they get a bargain on book two or three. Also it's easier to build an audience to a known property than a cold one.

But, neither agents nor publishers want a story that can only be told in multiple form. That is a much bigger risk.

Luc2 said...

Re trilogies, I think Miss Snark once wrote that you should stress that it's a stand alone book, but you can hint at the possibility of a sequel. I thought that was sound advice.

Getitwritten_Guy said...

Mr. Bransford:
I'm new to agent blogs, but I'm surprised at the query statistics you posted.

I can't imagine myself sending out a query that wasn't personalized. And by personalized, I mean more than a salutation of 'Dear Mr. Bransford'.

I'll be doing a lot more lurking and reading, but is it really so common for people to ignore sensible business practices when trying to market themselves and their work?

jason evans said...

I don't know why, but I'm shocked that folks don't even address a query to a person.

Church Lady said...

I try not to go into Church Lady mode on other people's blogs, but here goes:

quote from Phoenix: Nathan requested a partial for my (upper) MG not too, too long ago.

Well, isn't that special.

**I'm smiling, girlfriend**


Nathan Bransford said...

On the matter of trilogies and sequels, here is my blog post on the subject:

Basically I think it's important to be flexible. Make sure you have a killer stand-alone idea. If you are writing in a genre where trilogies are important and you have some ideas on how it can be expanded then you might mention that it could be expanded into a trilogy, but don't save all of your best ideas for that third book -- for any variety of reasons you might not get to book three.

Kimber An said...

Thanks, Nathan. That older post answered all my questions. Actually, they reaffirmed everything I learned from Miss Snark on the topic. So, you're in good company.

Luc2 said...

After clicking the link to your old post I started doubting if it was you or Miss Snark who gave that advice.

Dang, you're two are too much alike, up to the stiletto's and gin pail. I'm glad you have mosquito's instead of a poodle. And you're kinder.

KateS said...

"Sort of like a roller coaster that only goes downhill, repeatedly ditches its passengers mid-air, and bursts into flames at the end. Oh, and the roller coaster doesn't want to be called a 'roller coaster' because it's not into labels."

Lord, I can't believe I completely understood that and had a picture of Justin Bobby in my head from watching the one episode where Audrina brought Justin Bobby to the bar to meet Lauren, and it was oh-so-horribly awkward.

On a side note, would you ever post the opening paragraph from a query where you had no idea of the genre?

Lana said...

Nathan, you mentioned that you got two Middle Grade queries. Do you represent books for this age group?

Lana said...

P.S. Oops, three queries, not two. :-)

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