Nathan Bransford, Author


Monday, January 11, 2010

Query Deluge!!

Whoa boy am I getting a lot of queries these days.

In addition to the 400 or so I received over the holidays, I came in this morning to another 100+ that had accumulated over the weekend. To put that in perspective, last year I received about 110 over a three day weekend, and that had been a record.

I'm not totally sure why this all is happening, but I'm guessing it's a combo of:

- NaNoWriMo novels have been edited and are ready for submission
- Contests tend to bring new blog readers and new blog readers tend to bring queries
- People had some time over the holidays to prep their submissions
- Cylon virus weakening human race by compelling people to spend time writing novels instead of fighting robot uprising

And yet, despite my best guesses there are also some slightly unexplainable aspects to this new deluge. For instance, I'm receiving an abnormally high volume of personal religious manifestos. Why? I have no idea. Certain trends just come in waves.

I also really do believe we're in a cultural moment where an abnormally high percentage of the population is either writing or thinking about writing a novel.

I'm not complaining about all of this - after all, many of these new projects are quite good! It's just making for a tricky couple of post-holiday weeks.

Any personal theories about the query deluge?






178 comments:

r louis scott said...

New Year's resolutions.

Soup said...

Aliens.

Whitney said...

Hive minds. It would explain everything.

Casey Shay said...

People are out of work or working lower paying jobs and thinking this is an "easy" way to get money. Ha!

Patrick Gabridge said...

I'm still betting that high unemployment overall, and vast layoffs in the newspaper industry, have given free time to a lot of people who always have wanted to write a novel. How many newspaper and magazine writers have been slowly pecking away at a novel in their desk drawer.

Why this surge after the holidays--probably a combo of the above, plus New Year's resolutions to finally start sending out queries (or more queries).

Lilliam Rivera said...

Don't you think maybe it has to do with your immense popularity? I'm sure everyone wants to hang with you. And also, no one wants to fight robots.

SayCaity said...

The universe is a sick puppy with an evil sense of humor? A sarcastic fate fairy knew I was nearing completion of my novel and prompted everyone to slap something together and start agent shopping? Hear the upward, questioning inflection in my comment? A little Stewie Griffin perhaps? Could I possibly be a little bitter about the query influx of late? Good luck, Mr. Bransford. Try to keep your head above water, or words. Whatever.

Richard Kriheli said...

the impending doom of twenty-twelve has fueled people's inner creative childs. now the better question is what percentage of the queries are actually solid ones?

Polenth said...

Maybe the religious stuff is from people worried about the world ending in 2012. Actually, that could explain all the novels. You need to get in quick to get it published before the zombie apocalypse of 2012.

Suzanne Santillan said...

I agree, it could be aliens but more likely all of those out of work people taking time off to right the "Great American Novel". What other job can you do sitting at home in your PJ's and watching the judge shows on TV?

Not that that's what I do...I don't even like judge shows.

Polenth said...

Wow, Richard and I posted about 2012 at exactly the same time. If that's not proof of an ancient Mayan prophecy coming true, I don't know what is.

Bane of Anubis said...

Could be the expanding population.

Sandy Williams said...

I'm blaming it on the success of the Harry Potter, Twilight, and Dan Brown. People see these books turned into a movie and think "Hey, I should write a book."

Kristi said...

I'm going with the Cylons - they're tricky that way. :)

Swifty said...

After reading 650+, 500 word entries filled with teenage hormones... Everyone is convinced that you are superhuman and can do it all!!!

So what is 100+ queries... I am sure you will be receiving a few more from some of us (wink,wink)

Terry Towery said...

Damn. Now that just sucks. Seriously. I am about a week away from having my manuscript and my query letter polished.

And my book has a theological bent to it.

Damn.

Jeannie said...

Maybe people that had no time due to a job and then were ‘let go’ from said job found time to write a novel. *shrugs* but who knows, maybe all those changes Doctor Who made over the holidays had an irreparable effect on the time space continuum.

Josin L. McQuein said...

I vote all of the above. (Though I'm not sure the Cylons would be into mass producing religious manifestos.)

Do you know if this is happening to most agents or is it localized?

Nathan Bransford said...

terry-

Theological bent is totally fine. The projects I'm talking about are more along the lines of "God exists no really I have proof."

J.J. Bennett said...

I think it's coming from a higher power... The Gods have forseen it!

Marilyn Peake said...

You mentioned recently that your Blog had received its one millionth new visitor. Most likely, the extensive information about the publishing industry that you provide on your Blog plus the lively discussions you allow in the Comments section, your new Forums and frequent contests place you among the agents writers will query first (and it’s entirely possible that one million writers, many writing multiple books, will query you for each and every one of the books they write). At the same time, more people than ever before are writing books – which
I think is a pretty cool trend in our culture because it suggests that our culture is probably much more literate than we realize.

Masala Chica said...

when times are tough, people seem stumble upon god. if they found god in 2009, along with your blog, that could explain the surge in the religious manifestos anyway.

Kiran

Tiffany Gimbel said...

Writing is the new form of therapy. It's cheaper too.

Kristen Torres-Toro said...

Sometimes it's just the timing. I queried last winter around the same time that agents started seeing record numbers. It had nothing to do with the economy for me (and I hadn't heard of Nano at the time). I'd just finished my book, edited it, wrote a query, and sent it out.

Scott said...

Perhaps email and texting culture has over-familiarized people with written communication. Long, from-the-heart emails get tucked away and next thing you know: RELIGULOUS MANIFESTO! Urgh, sorry, Nathan. Sounds like a real pain.

MzMannerz said...

A combination of things. The internet and your willingness to accept emailed queries. Switch to snail mail only queries and see how many you receive.

And then... what others said. People have more time on their hands than before, and can pursue long held dreams.

Seamus said...

All of your theories feel right to me, along with the bad economy having a lot of smart people with time on their hands. Is there any data on the overall number of queries out there and has that number grown? I mean have you just risen above the average query-to-agent ratio, or is everyone increasing? If it turns out that you're getting more than your share, I think we're all clear that it's the Nathan Factor. If all boats are rising, where will we get all the agents?

Naya Lionsong said...

I agree with the New Year's resolution idea... I think a lot of people have decided it's high time they get off their bums and do something about the novel they've been sitting on.

Or it could just be your charm...

Hmmmm, now you have to ask yourself. Are other agents having the same response?

Oh and I've noticed the religious thing too lately... and I'm on the other side of the world. I actually had a visit from a Jehovah's Witness and I haven't seen one of them since I was a kid. Nice lady, though...

Ngaire said...

In some combination: (a) increased trend to multiple submission (regardless of agency preference for exclusivity), (b) perceived greater accessibility of agents due to their 'net presence, (c)closure of even more houses to unagented submission, (d)simply more people writing (silver lining of layoffs?), and, of course, (e) the prod of new year's resolutions!

Alicia A said...

I agree with Sandy Williams. The Stephenie Meyers, I wrote this in just three months and now I'm a millionaire, makes writing a novel look easy and highly profitable.

Shmologna said...

The economy has made people look for other ways to pay bills. I don't believe everyone who writes really loves it.

Derek Osborne said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Susan Quinn said...

I agree that finding God and finding Nathan in the same year could result in additional queries for a certain popular agent. Just sayin'.

This gives you more chances to find that awesome-next-bestseller, right?

I ran into a family friend over the weekend. She's got a couple MS in the works (I didn't know she wrote), is getting a severence from her day job and has decided to take a year off to write. If not now, when? was her general attitude. Can't find fault with that!

Keith Popely said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Elena said...

Besides the New Year's resolutions and "out-of-work-the-time-is-now- birth-of-an-author," your agency is accepting queries while other agents are "on hiatus." Hope you find a gem in there...

Nathan Bransford said...

keith-

Yes, those are popular as well.

Keith Popely said...

Thanks, Nathan. Being a total slacker, I posted my question and then read the thread in which you answered the question. This is a good tip for all who are new to Nathan's blog: pretty much anything you can ask has been answered somewhere at some time. Check out "The Essentials" on the left side of the main page.

Ashley said...

Maybe lots of writers are afraid they'll miss their shot at an Oprah moment if they don't hurry up and get published before her show ends.

Marilyn Peake said...

It’s interesting that many writers submit queries about similar topics, and that this seems to go through cycles. I remember learning about this in graduate school in regard to other aspects of human existence. Scientists will often be working on the same breakthrough ideas at exactly the same time, totally unaware of the other scientists’ work. Similar ideas, philosophies and archetypes often arose at the same time in vastly different cultures back when separate areas of the world were completely isolated from each other. Carl Jung referred to this as the collective unconscious. We’re all human. We’re all processing similar information. In isolated ancient cultures, humans were all processing information about life, birth, death, dangerous weather, starvation, and so on. In today’s world, we’re so connected, we’re actually sharing information and processing that information together. Literature evolves, like most other aspects of human life.

Terri Molina said...

Because its the start of the new year and everyone knows editors and agents have returned to work bright-eyed and bushy-tailed and that their desks are completely empty because they were cleared of all queries before Christmas. So they're all sending at once in the hopes that their manuscript will be the first one you read.

If it makes you feel any better, I didn't query you. ;-)

Claire said...

It's all Sarah Palin's fault. She brings out the crazies from both sides.

veela-valoom said...

I would say that unemployment probably has more to do with in than anything. Not having a job is hard (I am one of the out-of-work masses right now) especially if you are used to having a job. You NEED to have something productive to do with your time. It is also an opportunity to reevaluate your life and potentially follow your dreams.

Kate said...

I hope you're joking about NaNo submissions. I literally haven't read my NaNo novel yet.

lexcade said...

your awesomeness.

and possibly the forum.

and your "when in doubt, query me!" deal.

you seem safer than a lot of other agents, meaning warmer and fuzzier. like you won't be too harsh when you reject us.

or aliens.

Ada said...

Got to think it's the high unemployment levels: all people have to lose is time. Despite the fact that the same economy that lead to their unemployment is going to make it that much harder to get publisher, there's always a shot in hell.

Emily White said...

Woohoo! You posted a picture of my home! Well, I don't actually live IN the Falls, but I do live in the county. I feel so special. Teehee.

Sooo...are you saying it might not be in my best interest to send in my query to you this month? Duly noted.

T. Anne said...

I had a feeling my Roomba was planning a interplanetary takeover, thanx for confirming the theory.

Also, Christmas vacation makes us creative types feel restless. While the rest of the world has vision's of sugar plums, we have vision's of global domination. Hey, my Roomba and I are more alike than I thought...

Thomas Taylor said...

It's all those cheap pens.

Rachel Hamm said...

My personal theory is that the word has spread- everyone in the world now knows that Nathan Bransford is the greatest agent ever...

(And don't worry, I'm not sucking up, because I've already been rejected by you! haha)

Alicia A said...

religous manifestos are the new vampire?

Linda Godfrey said...

Too many people believing all the pop psychology quotes on Twitter telling them they CAN achieve whatever they dream. Even if they haven't learned how.

I also like Whitney's hive mind idea.

Chumplet - Sandra Cormier said...

New year, new book, new queries, new laptops...

Maybe it's just a coinkydink that my query is ready to go, since two New Years have passed since I started the novel. Watch out!

littlescribbler said...

If the deluge is from NaNo, would you say that sending in a query at this time of year would be bad for a writer, as they would be competing against hundreds of others?

alexisgrant said...

How have NaNoWriMo authors already edited their novels?! I'm still revising the book I started long before that month!

Kelly Bryson said...

Nathan, please tell us how many of these queries are fully developed ideas. Do you really think people wrote a first draft in Nov, edited in Dec, wrote their query letter a few days ago? Could anything that fast possibly be good enough to get published?

David Eric Tomlinson said...

I'm going to go with number four, "Cylon virus".

loronomo said...

Your blog. It's good.

Anonymous said...

Is the religious manifesto the new vampire???

(humming theme to Twilight Zone)

PS
And how many vampire novels are amongst the queries?

Kia said...

Print, make into paper planes, read the fifty that fly the furthest.

Anonymous said...

Subliminal messaging on the TV is telling everyone to write a novel...

Karen said...

I think it's the economy. More people are out of work, which gives them more time on their hands to write, plus their financial situations have them hoping for some sort of lucky pay day.

Macie said...

In the mid-west, we've had a serious amount of snow.Combine this fact, with other places, who aren't used to the snow, getting it and you've got a perfect recipe for people stuck in their homes! What else is there to do but finish up those manuscripts. This might account for your query deluge over the weekend.

wendy said...

Interesting....but might it be that you're very popular, and as you become more well-known, perhaps more writers around the globe are querying you? What was really interesting to me was that more people are querying religions manifestos. This is the kind of thing I'd like to read right now.

Yoko's TARDIS said...

I don't know why there's such a query deluge, but it does make me wonder if such a huge workload can make agents weary of even promising books when there's so much to go through.

And yes, I'm being self-serving because you and a hundred other agents rejected me, but I think the question remains valid.

Kaitlyne said...

Goodness knows haha. Mine was in the pile, but only because I was giving it a week after the holidays. Maybe people really did read your advice last month after all! ;)

ann foxlee said...

Yes. Cylons.

wendy said...

<>

Marilyn, good point well made. I agree as there's been many instances in history where a group of people have taken part in trends before they were even known. This makes me wonder about the nature of human existence. Why are human minds susceptible to influences that are unseen and unheard and yet cause a group of people to have the same inspiration? And where do these influences come from?

Terry said...

I'm going with the Cylon Virus too.

NFI.

Disgruntled Bear said...

My belief is that the query deluge is proof that God hates me.

But, since that's the central theme of my personal religious manifesto, I'm getting ahead of myself.

Seriously, I've wanted to write a novel for decades! I finally reach the point where I have the maturity and stick-to-itiveness to finish the thing, and everyone else has done it, too, so my book gets lost in the shuffle.

Maybe it's because Gen-X has grown up, realized that most of their dreams are no longer attainable, and have turned to writing as an outlet that requires neither beauty nor youth.

D**n, that's dark, even for me. I think I'll have a couple of beers and watch Disney movies until the angst passes.

Nathan Bransford said...

disgruntled bear and others-

Look on the bright side! If the present trend continues there will be still more queries next year and even more the year after. You have a head start.

Carolina Valdez Miller said...

I'm pretty sure it has to do with the end of the world. Or sheep.

BTW, I've decided to become a brain surgeon because I'm out of a job and it seems like an easy thing to do. And everybody else is doing it.

Dara said...

Hmm, I was thinking the NaNo novels. Although that seems like a quick turnaround for editing. Heck, my NaNo novel first draft still isn't finished :P Perhaps I'm just a slacker...

AB said...

It can't possibly be NaNo manuscripts, already, can it? Holy quick writing and editing, Batman. Am I the only writer who needs at least a month before the first edit?

(I also don't write as solid a first draft at the speed of NaNo, but that might just be me.)

At Nano speed to finish a full novel I'd need December - and then rest, and edits, and query, and agent research, and synopsis creation: I feel like a bit of a slug if NaNo folks are querying. Wow.

(Also, Terry, you're in company I also have some theological themes in a book I'm about to send out that started this time last year. In urban fantasy/fiction, which, hey, often has such themes: still, it is somewhat worrisome...)

Lynn F. Casella said...

Not many people went to the Hawaiian Islands for a month like I did....too much cabin and not enough fever,,,,,cold on the mainland

Terry said...

Thanks for the thought, Nathan. I better write faster, which is to say, not so slow.

If you count the word, "adultery," in my murder mystery, it could have a religous bent to it. Maybe too bent.

K.L. Brady said...

I would cross-reference the queries against the folks who entered your recent contest. Perhaps they believe that since you're familiar with them through their entries, you might have been awed by the awesomeness of their writing skills and might take a harder look at their queries.

That's why I sent mine in. lol

Just kidding...I didn't send one in.

Seriously.

I didn't.

But my sister did.

Okay, I don't have a sister.

Brent Peterson said...

I believe it's a combo of the three things already mentioned
1) the recession has given birth to free time
2) Stephanie Meyers and her obscene success
3) the internet continues to change our lives

And a big one, you are marketing yourself really well (well done)

Curious....of the 110, how many requests did you make for partials or fulls?

Nathan Bransford said...

brent-

Three.

abc said...

I'm going with New Year's Resolutions + the recent contest + everyone wants to be Nathan's best friend.

Funny that you bring up Cylons. I'm currently having somewhat of a BSG festival (of one) at my place. I'm in the last season. All but one has been revealed. NO SPOILERS PLEASE.

I wonder what I will do with my life when it is all over. Lost starts soon, thank goodness. And a new Project Runway! (the new one better make up for the stinker that was the last one).

Carry on!

Kristan said...

I'd like to ditto everything Brent Peterson said, and add that that would be the most nefarious, ingenious Cylon plot ever!

Sissy said...

I think the holiday break is what is killing you. I would have sent in my query this week, since I spent my two week break from school tweaking my manuscript. But then, I anticipated you might get hit with an avalanche of queries and didn't want to get lost amidst all that. I would think after reading that many pages, your brain might get tired. No offense. :)

reader said...

My think -- in my case -- I'm querying now because I've finally given up on the fact that the agent I have my full with is EVER going to get back to me about it. She was one of my top picks (nathan already rejected me, politely :)). I wanted to give her a running start. But, after the holidays, with no word forthcoming, I queried four new agents this weekend and got two requests for fulls today.

Maybe others were waiting around for agents that had their fulls too, hoping they'd get some type of response after the holidays, only they didn't?

ryan field said...

I think you're getting all these queries because people love you, and you take the time to listen and write about what they are going through.

Ted2112 said...

Great shot of Niagara Falls, I know that exact spot, breathtaking!
I think it’s the get it in by the end of the year personal deadline thing

Bane of Anubis said...

Now that you've had an 'attach pages' policy for awhile, have you noticed whether your request rate has increased/decreased?

Also, of every 100ish queries, how many, on average, do you reject before even getting to the pages?

Kathryn Magendie said...

I don't know but I'm enjoying the comments on the subject!

Nathan Bransford said...

bofa-

My request rate has decreased, actually, because I'm better able to assess whether I am interested.

I'd say I at least scan the pages for half of them. Half it's already apparent before I get to the pages.

Bane of Anubis said...

Thanks! Here's a token of my appreciation. (You may have already seen this gaff by JR Smith in the game Saturday night, but if not, as a Kings fan, I'm sure you'll enjoy it).

E.E. said...

Alright I'll bite.

I know I was one of those unfortunate queries. I guess that's just incentive to redo my query letter. I was hoping that my letter and first five pages satirized religious dogmatism. I guess I was wrong.

Elaine 'still writing' Smith said...

Or, it's a not too subliminal, subliminal message that it's time to turn cult status into the status of a cult? ; )

E. W. said...

Thank you Elaine. lol!

I definitely have to learn to be more careful about precarious subjects.

Linguista said...

At times like this, just be thankul you read fast!

Good luck!

anne vinsel said...

nathan, if it helps any, i'm seeing a lot of amateurs trying to market bad photography. i think it's the economy and the kind of optimism that thinks artsy stuff like writing and shooting don't require any training or practice. they also have lots of time on their hands if they're out of work (and i'm not dissing out of work people, it must be horrible!) and it feels more productive than watching daytime tv?

and also aliens.

Tara said...

People stricken with cancer *again* after surviving unfathomable odds just learned they currently face new insurmountable odds and want to share the peace they've discovered in their personal journeys to help others not go to the depths of despair. Also, Nathan your bio says you like narrative nonfiction (which can be interpreted as memoir) and anything else you happen to like... doesn't mention zero religious tolerance. Perhaps some of those novels have religious comments, but not zealous enough to be fully a specific religious genre.... either that, or the full blue moon that we just had caused incredible amounts of metacognition and people couldn't wait to query their favorite agent.

JoanneFrench said...

I didn't see the show Oprah show with Stephanie Meyers but heard she said to "just send your book idea to an editor or agent and see what happens." Yikes!

My bet is on those damn unemployed query zombie robots who want to write a religious manifesto before Nostradomius' prediction of the coming to an end in 2012 comes true.

Yoko's TARDIS said...

Hmm, this just occurred to me: the first line of my writing sample the query I sent to you contains a rather violent Bible verse. My novel is not religious and the verse was intended ironically, but maybe it sends the wrong message that my book is some kind of religious tract.

You might have rejected me for other reasons, but I should still think about this point.

P.S. Hi, Ryan Field, good to see you here, too. I'm Mike Russell. :)

Yoko's TARDIS said...

Arrgh, I missed an "in" in my last post "...sample IN the query I sent ..."

Stephen Prosapio said...

Hope.

I'm in agreement with many from above: a terrible economy, internet resources and New Year resolutions. Beyond that, a few extremely poorly written blockbuster best sellers (What the--???) give people hope that maybe they can be the next household name author.

Something not mentioned yet: a writer's inaccurate portrayal in movies and on TV. Every once in a while a realistic spy film, cop film etc comes out, but how many realistic "Author Films" are out there? I don't recall any...they'd be boring as hell. Much easier and more attractive to insist that authors are rich, sought-after and hounded by gorgeous suitors and fans. Besides, with a good idea, it only takes a computer and two weeks to crank out a novel! Riiiiiiiiiight.

But even false hope is hope. Which even ties into the reason for the rise in religious manifestos?

Lynne said...

Cylons, aliens, space monkeys, Mayan Calendar. All of the above.
Catch word: glyza. In case your Mayan is rusty.

MotherReader said...

Crap, I was just about to send my personal religious manifesto in picture book form.

MLeaves2 said...

I think part of it is that the thorough and useful instructions your provide for writing a query include the suggestion "Don't know who to query? Start with me."

That's why I did it a few weeks ago, even though I didn't know if it was the type of thing you'd want to represent.

As it turned out, I got a prompt and polite rejection. Which, after bawling for an hour and shouting "he doesn't love me!" I was able to channel into writing a really incredible query letter to someone else.

Nathan Bransford said...

e.e. and Tara-

I never said I was against religious topics, just that I've seen a lot of them.

E. W. said...

Oh,trust me, know.

Thank you for the kind letdown. :)

Anonymous said...

The Query Deluge is in accordance to the prophesy. The time is nigh.

Nigh to what? I'm not really sure. The prophesy wasn't clear on that part, but it's nigh... very nigh...


nigh...

Ember said...

QueryTracker had you at #1 in their Top 10 Most Queried Agents list last week -
http://querytracker.net/top10.php#
- so anyone that saw you there and hadn't already queried you? Probably was asking themselves "Hey, why haven't I queried Nathan Bransford?"

I'm going with that, or Cylons.

Lily Cate said...

NaNo-s are edited already? Wow.
I have a ms from this summer that I'm thinking of maybe handing out to some readers next month.

lora96 said...

Recession.

We've tried to sell a spare kidney on eBay but the bidding was sluggish.

We are too fat to be successful strippers.

Got it! If my religious manifesto's a hit, that kidney'll bring in some big bucks on eBay once I'm famous.

Kimber An said...

It's the Cylons.

Eva O'Dell said...

Maybe it's the end of the decade. People are feeling inspired by a new beginning, and realizing what they haven't accomplished yet.

Anonymous said...

Ha, ha...get in before th' pock-o-lips, huh? You waited too long. You'll be published 3 minutes before the Doomsday Clock runs out and you're vaporized. And you without a backup novel.

Rowenna said...

Abnormally high percentage of the population thinking about or actually writing? Yes--I have several friends who are writing now, not through writing groups, just friends from various facets of life. Internet demystifying publication so that more people writing make publication a goal? Also yes. 2012 looming as ultimate endgame? Outlying factor. Cyclons? Pretty much in control of everything since Galileo's time.

Randolph said...

Time goblins.

JTShea said...

Cylon robot virus? On your forums I often find myself alone with a Google Bot. Scary!

The Decreed said...

I'm not sure what caused so many queries but I am very interested to learn what time goblins are and how they're connected.

clindsay said...

I've been averaging 60-65 a day since January 1st, which is A LOT.

And in those queries, I'm seeing a LOT of word count abuse. First novels that exceed 160k, 170k, 180k. Astounding!

You seeing this kind of thing, too?

William said...

Some chick named Holly Root gave me five bucks to send you at least five new query letters a day. I asked for ten, but she said things were really tight in the industry right now.

Becky said...

Well, Your ever increasing popularity and the fact that you tell us to query you could be a theory. =)

Kaitlyne said...

Has anyone mentioned the correlation between the world ending in 2012 and the religious manifestos yet? ;)

Courtney Price said...

The internet makes people over confident? "Friends" on facebook say, "that is great!" and people think it is?

Side note:I saw a GEM of a title the other day that made me think of you (not that I know you, that's totally creepy). It was LOL funny-- a manifesto written by a guy with... well, let's just say that on the self-designed COVER of his "book", there are numerous errors. But here's the kicker, he asked for advice on it, which I gave and he said "they said I don't have to worry about grammar, but thanx". When I looked to see who "they" could possibly be, I found out that his "publishing house" is, indeed, himself.

I hope he didn't send it to you!

Steve said...

Nathan, I suspect strongly that you have THE number one agent blog. This will increase your visibility and bring you more queries. And if the personality types that hang out online tend to be a little, shall we say, "skewed", then this will affect the type of queries you receive. Why not compare stats with colleagues who don't blog, or whose blogs are less well-known. See if they have seen the deluge.

-Steve

Steve said...

Nathan,

Here's a completely different hypothesis from the one I just gave. More and more of the baby boomers are hitting their 60's, which traditionally makes one "old". Perhaps people are realizing that if they ever want to leave behind some creative legacy they'd better get crackin'. Any age stats on your submitters?

-Steve

Rena Rossner said...

It's hard to imagine that someone from Nano has something ready for submission already. It took me 30 days to write 50,000 words, but it's taken me another 30 days to write the next 20,000, and I think I may be nearing the half-way mark of my novel. That means I'm looking at another few months of writing before I can even think about editing. I haven't even gone back to read it from the beginning even once, let alone edit it. But I really do think it's a good sign. So long as people are still writing, people will still be reading right? So that means that by the time I finish my novel there may still be a publishing industry left for me to pitch to?

RAD - Dot Painter said...

Hmmm, so I guess I need to rethink the whole - I'm going to be a novelist this year - notion. Although, I'm really good at waiting in line, as long as my kids don't need to use the bathroom. I am just curious how long it takes you to go through 400 queries?

PABLO said...

i sent you one of the queries. paul jeter. pjetgallery.blogspot.com

i sent it to you because, i treated your advice like a homework assignment, and i want to pass the test.

KatieDahl said...

I can't help wondering how people can get their NaNoWriMo novel edited so quickly. I'm still working on mine - from 2008. It's nowhere near done. I guess some people just write more neatly during November, hence needing less editing...

Rick Daley said...

No theories on the query wave, but I do have a personal religious manifesto. I would share it with you here, but such blatant self-aggrandizing is against said beliefs.

Guinevere said...

I tend to be on the side of the economy (and the cylons, of course). Even though my situation is really the reverse -- I have a very secure day job, which is really not enjoyable at all. I try to eke out my novel in my limited free time and imagine myself at home in my pajamas writing for a living.

Lee Ann Sontheimer Murphy said...

The economy has to be a major factor. People are desperate in seeking financial security and they hope that if they can market a novel, they can gain that security cushion they so desire. Same cause and effect for the religious manifestos - human nature seeks divine intervention when times and life get tough.

Richmond Writer said...

No theories but back in the 80's when I wanted to do a graduate thesis on religious influences in politics I was told "religion is dead. It doesn't influence politics."

Apparently it has made a come back.

Just finished Ben-Hur. Great book but I'm all for the modernization of novels. Long winded thee and thou speeches are hard to read.

Jason said...

I had originally set that I would finish editing my novel by the end of the year. It was pretty much arbitrary, but I wonder if other's set the same goal...only they actually finished.

Anonymous said...

Because people think writing is easy?

I watched "Castle" last night. Apparently best-selling authors never actually have to write anything. They just get to kiss Alyssa Milano and flirt with the cute homicide detective. Yet they make millions.

Michelle said...

I think a lot of people are feeling the lack of control in our society, whether it's in the economic climate or the involvement in the war, or just the pressures of everyday life. Writing gives a sense of control.

Jonathon Arntson said...

It's an epidemic, spread through the water. It has killed all other water borne viruses in the water. Promiscuous girls around the world rejoice.

Jenny said...

I don't know about all the queries, but I like the hive-mind-cylon-religious-manifesto-alien-2012-Baby-Boomer-Nathan's-Blog angle. Or maybe I just like that if you throw all those into a mixing pot you get the plot for my next NaNo project!

Rollie Raleigh said...

Clearly, this is the predicted "fourth step" as annunciated by the Mayan calendar, which leads to the end-of-the-world on December 21, 2012. However, it is likely that on the 22nd, your inbox will still receive seventy-four queries of those wishing to publish posthumously for no one to read.

TS Tate said...

I would agree with the 2012/Zombie apocalypse theory, however, you'd think more compelling, life-altering and certainly renewal of faith stories would come from any survivors post 2012. :P

Oh, and just an FYI:
Zombie Procedure Emergency Rule #6
"Bring along something shiny. Zombies are at all times fascinated and confused by the shiny. Distractions with a shiny will give you ample opportunity to bash their little heads in."

Henri said...

Definitely a symptom of the virus.

Lesli Richardson said...

We are Borg. Resistance is futile. :)

Good luck with that slush pile. Sounds like you need hip waders to tackle your in box. *LOL*

As far how long it takes to edit a Nano book, I was too busy writing to participate in Nano this year despite my best intentions. *LOL* I've turned in two manuscripts to one of my publishers since then, and working on another they're expecting. I treat my fiction writing the same way I approached my non-fiction, with tight deadlines and paying close attention to self-editing during the process to tighten the manuscript as I go. It's worked for me so far. *LOL*

Then again, this IS my evil day job. I have to make money doing it. *LOL*

misa101 said...

I was going to say it was because word of your sheer awesomeness has spread, but I am not ready to query yet so I won't bother to suck up.

I think the recession is a big part of it. Writing is a way to make some extra money with minimal expense

Mira said...

Well, that little 'contact me' link below your picture might have a bit to do with it, Nathan. :)

I remember when I saw that I thought, "Wow." Then I thought, "Boy, that looks so easy, think I'll query Nathan." Then I remembered that I don't have anything to query you with. That was extremely disappointing. I stared at that box in frustration for quite awhile.

I'm still frustrated. There's just something about that little box that's so accessible, and it makes me want to send you things.

I don't suppose I could send non-query things that way? Maybe just a daily update on how I'm doing? Or some of the papers I'm writing for school? Just to give you a break from reading queries all day.

Anyway, the point is, I bet people who actually have something to query you with find that box darn near irresistble.

Jonathon Arntson said...

misa101 - Minimal expense?! Not only have I spent a large number of hours and blood on my writing, I have spent money on research, joining organizations, and on postage in the search of an agent.

At this point, I sure as hell would have made a lot more money working at McDonald's. If you someone is looking for a get rich quick scheme, this is definitely not the field people should be considering.

Will Fabulan said...

I used to work for a literary agent and I can tell you the patterns for heavy submissions: early January (people wrote durign the holidays), early summer (school's out), and the worst, just after Labor Day--people suddenly had to "get on" their project after summer was over.

Jaycee Adams said...

Gotta be Cylons. Them buggers are everywhere.

Tami said...

Well, after I finish my novel, set up my webpage, my blog, my public facebook and write the query (which I will send to Query Shark as well as my online writing group), then I will be querying Nathan. :) Based on books he has published and what he has said regarding his interests and his response times, well, I fully expect that to be my first rejection.

J. Koyanagi said...

There has to be a novel in this Mayan-alien-Cylon conspiracy.

Carolyn V. said...

I agree with the Nanowrimo thing. Oh and the cylon thing too.But 400 queries? Your poor strained eyes.

Nancy said...

I don't know if someone said this already, but there are a lot of students who graduated last May unable to find work. Overall, I think the biggest reason for the massive query count is the evil economy genie pouncing into everyone's household, either leaving them time with a WIP or desperately clawing at story possibilities. And the greater influx of spiritual journey queries may reflect the desperate tmes many people are enduring these days as we as a population face extreme cultural, economic, and personal upheavals.

And then there's the other reason: "Hey, I'm the most fascinating person on planet Earth. Who wouldn't want to read my life story? Think I'll query Nathan about it." :) n

Lin said...

Don't worry Nathan your awesome!You'll get through all those queries!And I'm not sucking up either.Okay, maybe a just little...

Dan Holloway said...

I think many people are scared that the publishing industry is changing really fast and they want to get in before it's too late.

I DO think we're at a cultural moment, but the cutting edge of that moment, the really exciting new writers that wouldn't have written before now - surely they're the DIYs, the punks and independents who wouldn't touch an agent if one waved a flag in front of them and shouted "six figure advance".
And on a mundane level, a lot of people have been snowed in and are using the time productively!

Barbara's Spot on the Blog said...

I think I know why the upsurge, despite the holidays. Your blog url is listed on another popular agent/publisher blog (religious) which might explain the new content coming in. I hope it's a blessing :)

Jodiodi said...

I agree with what most of the others have said: economy, free time, New Year's resolutions, and the recent success of authors which might imply writing is 'easy'.

Looks like any queries I might have sent you would be lost in the deluge.

Thank goodness I wised up and stopped querying at all. I'd hate for my pitiful excuses for 'novels' to actually be put before an agent or editor.

Anonymous said...

"How many newspaper and magazine writers have been slowly pecking away at a novel in their desk drawer."

How does a writer fit inside a desk drawer?!

Anonymous said...

How many of the Q's are not obvious misguided/rushed attempts, or works that are for one reason or another not ready for the marketplace?

90%? 95?

Taking the case of NanoriMo, to write soe kind of draft in November and be submitting it now is ridiculous. That's not enough time unless you've published before. So I guess that most of your queries are subpar monstrosities not fit for human consumption.

Anonymous said...

Agree that the query stats frequently given out by agents are misleading because at least 90%, if not 99.9% are not commercially competitive.

Most queries fail on BOTH of the folowing 2 levels:

1) the book itself is not viable
2) the business approach is flawed in a showstopping way (i.e. the query their romance to an agent who only handles children's books, or the book is not actually completed or they shoot a generic form letter to all agents or besides querying agents they also queired every publisher simultaneously, et., etc., etc.

The query stats thing is old and boring, because most people don't know what they're doing and it's painfully obvious. If they did, they woldn't need an agent, right? they'd already have one!

Vanessa Wieland said...

The cylons are writing about God.

Anonymous said...

This blog is AWESOME!

Erin said...

Unless you want to acquire a stalker (me), I would recommend refraining from mentioning Cylons. Because I am a dork. There, I said it.

Anonymous said...

Hey, Nathan. I've been searching your website, but I can't find an answer to this trivial question: is it necessary to include your address at the bottom of an email query?

I include my email and phone number, but I'm worried that if I write out the whole address it'll ruin the transition between the letter and sample pages.

Nathan Bransford said...

anon-

Probably not necessary these days.

Anonymous said...

Thanks!

Reba said...

Can people really edit a novel in one month to the point where it's ready for submission?

Kristin Laughtin said...

Always blame the Cylons. They're tricksy like that.

I would really blame New Year's resolutions, NaNoWriMo, and possibly the economy/unemployment for the query upsurge. As for the religious manifestos...maybe people were inspired to finish those up over the holidays? (Hopefully they didn't start them in December as well...)

Or maybe you're just popular.

Moira Young said...

I think it's just plain everything: the economy, a surge in the attitude that anyone can write (and be published and make millions); a selfish teen and 20-something generation with an attitude of entitlement (which, being 27, is something I've worked so hard against); the holidays and resolutions driving people to submit; NaNoWriMo, which often helps jumpstart the writing process; the ridiculous fear of 2012 (which isn't about the end of the world, just the end of a cycle and a paradigm shift in one way or another, but people seem to prefer the doomsday prediction); Hollywood and network TV's misinformation about how fast and easy it is to get published; the collective unconscious of the human race driving more people to write (Twitter and its trends is an excellent computer model of this); technology in general making voices easier to be heard; and your popularity, friendliness, and accessability.

Oh, and the Cylons, of course.

I wonder how many agents or publishing houses in the last big recession (1982) noticed a surge in submissions back then.

I didn't submit, but I may in the next few months. To everyone who was rejected, I've found it very motivational to ask myself why I was rejected. Does the query need improvement? The manuscript? Is there a lesson here I need to learn? Or is it ready, and the agent I submitted to just wasn't the right agent for the project?

Well, it works for me. Though I also usually need a few days of rejection recovery time, first. :)

Melissa said...

Um . . . I think it might have something to do with you and your blog's popularity. ;-)

Nuria Coe said...

On January 2nd the answer was already posted for all to see: Please see below the link to the exact answer to your deluge dilemma, courtesy of Anne Mini, author/blogger/guru of all things editorial:

http://www.annemini.com/?p=8020

Happy reading! :)

Erica said...

Because you're awesome and everyone wants to work with you. (Heck, the last writer's conference I went to, I heard another agent talk about you and your blog. I think you've built up the reputation of being a rockstar.)

Cam Snow said...

My guess would be that it's your website's fault. If you want to cut down on the number of queries you should (1) demand they be by snail mail; (2) demand they send you query, synopsis, and outline so it seems like too much work; and (3) stop being so friendly soundng on the blog.

However, I think more people are writing now for several reasons: Unemployed/bad economy, baby boomers nearing retirement, technology making it easier, etc.

One thing that I hadn't thought about before is that there is a perceived drop in the quality of writing (you hear so many critics talking about how generic/formulaic some bestsellers are), so maybe more people think that they can write the next best seller.

MizTiz said...

because you are very smart and pretty...like the popular cheerleader in high school...but with a soul.

Cheryl Gower said...

That's a No Brainer, Nathan. It's YOU! You have made yourself so approachable, down-to-earth through your blog that writers feel comfortable and secure in submitting their query to you. You'll be gentle; you'll be understanding; but at the same time honest and caring. See, NO-BRAINER!

Anonymous said...

Economy and an awesome site.

Chris C. said...

So many journalists with a novel half done have been laid off.

Emma Michaels said...

To be perfectly honest I kind of think that part of the reason there are so many people sending out their manuscripts now is because of all of the terrible things that have been happening lately. The more you see terrible things on the news the more you feel like you may never have another chance to follow your dreams. So the people who have secreted away their novels and tried to hide their love for writing are starting to realize that it is better to have tried and fail than to have never tried at all. Add in the prophecy of 2012 (or more that it is when the Mayan calendar ends)and that now many people have time to follow their dreams. So yeay for Nathan! More great novels to hopefully make up for the not as wonderful ones you probably have to see!!!

Broadway Mouth Blog said...

I read this entry when you originally posted it, and I was concerned about my queries getting lost in the deluge. Then I opened up my email on Monday and found two manuscript requests. There's hope!

Meghan Ward said...

I think your theory about blog traffic is correct. The upside? Maybe soon every one who has ever written a book will have queried you and then the queries will stop. And then, after taking a vacation, you will have to encourage people to write more books.

Cathy said...

Most everyone I know is writing a book. The thing that gets me is that half of these people never read books.

Alex said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Torie underlines said...

Resolutions? Every January the gym is flooded with people FINALLY COMMITTING (at least until Feb.) to get in shape. Maybe aspiring authors are doing the same with their query letters?

Peter said...

Why? Fewer people (as a percentage of the population) are reading, while an even number of people (as a percentage of the population) are writing - actually, it may not be staying even but growing: a spoiled and pampered half-decade may have convinced more wanna-bes that that they should become artistes, rather than pursue the careers of their parents; in addition to this, the frustrated writers with the unpublished books of the past few years are trying their luck and submitting again; finally, all of the people who have been laid off over the years are finishing off the novels that they always thought they would/could/should write (some of them may be out-of-work investment bankers/vampire squids). The devil finds work for idle hands... if that's how the old saying goes.

Related Posts with Thumbnails