Query Stats Eeyore Would Love

by | Apr 8, 2008 | Literary Agents | 83 comments

Do I sound depressed? No? Give it time.

Usual preface: there were three or four queries over the weekend from regular blog readers that followed the rules, wrote good personalized queries, and were perfectly fine and just weren’t quite for me. Keep on trucking, I’m sure you’ll find the right agent.

Everyone else?

Wow. Let me elaborate: WOW

Here come the stats from the last three days:

Total queries: 93

Young Adult: 16 (this is the first time YA took the lead)
Suspense/thriller/mystery: 14
How-to/Self-Help/Guide book: 8
Historical fiction: 8
Science fiction: 7
Women’s Fiction: 7
Fantasy: 6
Male Ennui: 4
Literary fiction: 3
History: 3
Politics/Current Events: 3
Religion/New Age: 3
Memoir: 2
Screenplay (I don’t represent): 2
Short story collections: 1
Middle grade (I don’t usually represent): 1
Picture book (I don’t usually represent): 1
Graphic novel: 1
No freaking idea: 3

Of those 93, a mere 19 were personalized, or roughly 20%, which is down from the already-paltry 29% last time I compiled stats. And even that number 19 is somewhat deceptive, since at least half of those mentioned the blog but clearly hadn’t read even the Essentials (or at least hadn’t adjusted their query).

And of those 93 I didn’t request any partials.

Some random categories:

Guides to life in prison: 2
Said they submitted because of my physical appearance: 1
Queries for works that the author professed will change the world: 2
Addressed “Dear publisher,” “Dear Sir/Madam,” or to the wrong agent: 5
Said they were “published” without providing publisher and/or year: 8
Sent query letter as an attachment (which I deleted): 1
Began query with an excerpt from book: 2
Received one of those annoying “in order to control spam you are receiving this automated e-mail” messages after sending a rejection: 2

I really do want to say that I appreciate how difficult it is to find an agent, I appreciate that people are thinking of me when they query, and I know it’s not a whole lot of fun to hear agents complain about how hard it is to find new clients when you’re reading their blog and shouting “I’M RIGHT HERE” at the screen. I definitely understand all of that.

But. These queries are really starting to get out of control.


  1. Merry Monteleone

    Is it bad that this made me smile? I’ve just spent five months researching agents, I mean really researching… going to the bookstore to check out their clients books specifically, reading their blogs daily (by the way, I love agents blogging – it gives me so much more to work with than the straight research ever will)

    I read your blog daily, but I won’t be querying specifically because I 1) write middle grade and 2) there is another agent with Curtis Brown that seems more of a fit for what I write…

    While I love your blog, I don’t want to waste your time or mine querying outside of what you like or rep… and while I’m sorry that you’re getting such out of touch queries, it does give me hope that all of the work I’ve put into my writing and editing and then researching and querying will stand out with the agents I do query.

    And if it makes you feel better, thank you for blogging – it’s a tremendous help to a lot of us writing out here – even if we’re not reading specifically to query you.

  2. Mark Terry

    Y’know, I’d never really considered “male ennui” as a genre of book. I hadn’t been reading your blog back in May, so I followed that link to that post and found myself, well, amused. Who would read a male ennui novel anyway? And I’m envisioning the book jacket, that instead of Mystery or Romance or Thriller, says: Male Ennui.

    Because, y’know, I’m sure there’s nothing more women would like to read about than an angry, pissed-off man and how some 20-year-old hottie got his mind off his problems. Sure, I can see where the typical reading and book buying demographic would support that–not. Sure, most buyers of books are women in middle-age or older (and no f***ing way am I going to define the age group for a middle-aged woman; I’m dim, not suicidal), probably married and dealing with their own male’s ennui, so the idea of being entertained by a lively story of “listen to the guy whine and have an affair with a younger woman to deal with it” just doesn’t strike me as a hot market.

    I suppose there are exceptions. After all, don’t all of Updike’s books fall into that category?

    I’m just sayin’.

  3. Adaora A.

    Good God!

    Screenplays? If people only did a quick google search of your name, they’d find this blog, and what you rep and don’t rep.

    Your physical appearance? They actually put that in the query? People have no shame.

    Any queries made out to ‘Curtis Brown?’

    I hate to ask a question about queries (seeing as your head seems to be swelling rapidly because of them, but I’ll hesitantly (and with a cyber glass of burbon in hand), ask anyways:

    Let’s say we query you in the proper way (personalized, rhetorical question free, read all the essentials, read what you do any don’t rep etc), and we paste at the bottom of the email the first two pages of the MS. If (hopefully), you were to request a partial, does the 30 pages (which you said is usually your partial request length), include the first two pages making it 28, or is it 30 more (including the first two), making it 32? This may sound like a silly question but I really would hate to be one of those prospectives who make you or other agents want to pull their hair out.

  4. Anonymous

    Misery loves company, so you decided to share? Well, now I’m depressed.

    So “out of control” means what? You never want to see another query . . . they have to be personalized . . . follow your rules? Or are you tendering your resignation, effective immediately?

  5. Nathan Bransford


    The first two pages you put in the query don’t count. And feel free to send a few more or a few less than 30 if there’s a natural break near the 30 pages mark.

  6. Furious D

    Shake the tree of literature, and you’re bound to have a few nuts hit you on the head.

    I’ll send you a helmet. 😉

  7. Adaora A.

    Ah ok thanks! I was pretty sure about it being ok to end at a natural break, I just had that niggling question. Thanks alot!

  8. Anonymous

    I Never considered querying an agent because of his appearance, though you are sorta cute, Nathan.

    And by “sort of” I mean waaay cute.

    Better luck next time as you venture into query hell.

  9. Melanie Avila

    No mention of the protest on the bridge? I thought maybe you were watching since you didn’t post yesterday…

  10. Brian

    “Said they submitted because of my physical appearance”

    Ha! Well, at least I hope it was more a “You’re quite the hottie, wanna rep my book?” and not “it occurs to me that unsightly agents are best because editors will agree to read anything to prevent the ugly agent from turning them to stone.”

    Maybe you can up your query count if you start podcasting and people can submit because of your voice. That’s a good way to pick which agents to hit up.

  11. Keri Ford

    Nathan, you’re such a delight! I do wish you handled romance. You’ve made it so clear of what you like and don’t like. good luck making it through future query piles.

  12. Josephine Damian

    Nathan, in spite of the fact that you gave me a shout out in this post:


    Maybe it’s time to delete it?

    I’m with, Merry. As much as I love you, Mr. King of Nice, I think my work’s too dark for your taste, so if it’s any consolation, Nathan, Josie’s query will not be clogging up your inbox.

    Adaora: At least that person did not send Nathan any nudie pics of themself (or maybe they did and Nathan’s too polite to mention it?).

  13. Josephine Damian

    Mark Terry: Richard Ford’s books as well. Maybe even Richard Russo’s, come to think of it.

  14. Nathan Bransford


    Actually, I saw the protest over the GG Bridge in person as I happened to be driving across yesterday. I was like, “What are they doing work on the bridge? Wait, are those people up on the cables? Wait, do those people have flags? I bet it’s some Tibet thing.”

    Sure enough….

  15. Adaora A.

    @Josephine – Who knows? And I suppose so, but it is kind of an insult where they maybe meant to compliment. You’re supposed to query because you think you’d be a good fit with the agent. I like when agents put their pictures up because it really does show their personality and lends to the whole thing of navigating the murky publishing waters, and figuring out which agent is right for you and your work. It is so hard to pick which agent might be right for you so blogging and pictures help enormously.

    It reminds me of this annoying guy who comes into where I work to shop quite often ( I work in retail – cash to be exact to pay for transportation to university and to support my shopping habit), and he’s really…it’s annoying. Honestly I just want to do my job and go home to er…do essays and write my books. Or how about the woman who said the f word to me because I forgot to give her 50% off halloween stuff. Damm she didn’t even need a costume. She could proper go as a witch and no one would know the difference.

  16. Anonymous

    Hmmm, last time you were depressed you broke out a whopper of a contest . . .

    I read another agent blog where she has a code word for her blog readers who submit. I know you still have to read everything, but it may offer a little hint that the person has done his homework. But then, you’d probably figure that out in the first sentence.

    I really hope you don’t stop being so open and responsive.

  17. pixy

    Well, as sad as this is it gives me hope for my own querying. It’s always nice to be able to say: “At least I’m not that lame.” 😉

  18. beth

    me screaming: “But I AM right here!” Still, good to know information. Puts a perspective on things.

  19. Ulysses

    After many years of working in various service sectors, I have come to the inescapable conclusion that if the vast majority of people can attempt something without thinking, they will. I apologize on behalf of our mutual genetic heritage. I’m sorry. As a species, we should be doing better, but it’s been tough to muster up any enthusiasm for intelligent thought since the invention of television.

    The good news: It can’t have taken long to decide to reject many of those queries.

    Can you imagine the mess if you received 93 perfectly executed, truly captivating queries? You’d have to read each, give it serious consideration and develop some grading system (outstanding, truly outstanding, fan-freakin’-tastic, I-must-have-this-or-I’ll-die) before weeping over the ones you’re forced to let go because you’d need to be four agents to take them all on… In addition to breaking your heart, the process would take days!

    No. It’s better this way. In fact, perhaps you should change your guidelines to include something like, “Please send me crap so I can reject you quickly and get on with my other work.”

    Just a thought 8).

  20. Anonymous


    Always love the query stats. Thanks for posting them.

    Also, I was wondering if you think someone can write a great novel but lack the knack for writing a great query.

    Queries require an economy with words that novels just don’t. And the other side is that some people are perhaps better at selling a story (and themselves) than they are writing that actual story.

    What is your opinion?


  21. Ulysses

    Oh, yes, I forgot: what on earth did someone send you that resulted in a “No freaking idea” category?

  22. Anonymous


  23. Nathan Bransford

    anon @ 12:02-

    It may be an unpopular sentiment, but I feel that anyone who has written a great novel can’t help but write a great query letter.

  24. Kim Stagliano

    Holy $#it. Is it rude to be sitting her laughing while you are mainlining Prozac? I’m sorry.(Stop laughing, Kim.) So were you at least flattered by the query that arrived “because UR a QT?” You can look forward 30 or so years until this crop of writers starts sending you “Male Ihaftaaweewee” queries about their prostates and such. I’m laughing, but I promise I’m crying inside.

  25. Nadine

    I love when you post the query stats.

    I just can’t get that people don’t take the time to research or at least address it to you personally!

    Maybe its time to get an assistant to search through the queries and only pass along ones to you that fit the requirements. Would save you a lot of time and sanity.

  26. Isak

    Nathan, it sounds like you’re getting a touch of ennui yourself… (Not saying it’s unjustified, we’ve all got our burdens to bear.)

    I kind of have to disagree with the ‘anyone + great novel = great query’ equation, though. I’ve known great writers who really were the stereotypical introverts with great skill, but lacking the social or marketable edge that they need to push their work into the hands of someone who can publish it or get it filmed (in the case of your two errant queries).

    I’m sure you’ve come into contact with about ten thousand writers for every one writer I’ve ever met, so, this is just my two cents.

  27. Adaora A.

    Kim I’ve just peeked at your profile again, and I see that you’re a Potter fan. Did the query sender thinking Nathan is a ‘male’ veela come to mind when you posted your comment? I still maintain, some people have no shame.

  28. Nathan Bransford


    Yes, it’s true, there are always exceptions.

  29. TB

    Nathan, love, love, love your blog. I sent a query to you on 3/31 with no reply, I guess your blog answers my question on weather or not you were interested…but somehow I thought you shot back rejection emails? I wont resend since all 93 queries were a no go for you. thank you anyhow 🙂

  30. Nathan Bransford


    First check your spam filter, if it’s not there (and assuming you didn’t send it as an attachment) you can re-send.

  31. Diana

    Thanks for the query stats! And thanks for introducing me to “Male Ennui.” I swear, at the next library staff meeting, I’ll raise my chin a little and say, “I’m not sure we’re meeting the needs of our fans of male ennui. Don’t you think we should dedicate some shelving for these books? Maybe between mysteries and inspirational?”

    Were these all e-mailed queries? Do you think you’re a victim of electronic convenience?

  32. Precie

    Well, unlike my dear Merry and my darling Josephine, I do write in areas you represent (literary/historical and YA). I’d love to send you a personalized query that helps boost your stats…but, alas, there’s that pesky rule about not querying agents until you have a manuscript that’s ready to be shopped around. Sigh.

    I pinky-swear that you’ll be on my short list of agents to query when I eventually get to that stage.

  33. Anonymous


    You list “women’s” and “literary” fiction, but why doesn’t your list include a category called something like “mainstream” or “contemporary” fiction?

  34. Precie

    Oh, and I double-pinky-swear that you’re not on my short list because of your appearance. Yeesh.

  35. Nathan Bransford


    genre categories are admittedly pretty arbitrary, but what types of books wouldn’t fit into the categories I have up there? “Mainstream” doesn’t really seem to me to be a category.

  36. Anonymous


    genre categories are admittedly pretty arbitrary, but what types of books wouldn’t fit into the categories I have up there? “Mainstream” doesn’t really seem to me to be a category.

    I’m sure you’ve done this before, but could you clarify your definition of “women’s” fiction?


  37. Anonymous

    I just went to Amazon and typed in “women’s fiction.” It’s kind of soup-to-nuts. They list TC Boyle’s Tortilla Curtain in the category! Who knew?


  38. jjdebenedictis

    Said they submitted because of my physical appearance: 1

    I’m glad I wasn’t drinking anything when I read that. Really?! I hope the person realized, at least within their own head, that appearance isn’t what one primarily looks for in an agent.

    I feel that anyone who has written a great novel can’t help but write a great query letter.

    I hope it’s more that anyone who has written a great novel is capable of writing a great query letter. It doesn’t happen automatically.

  39. arcaedia

    Nathan —

    I really sympathize. And even empathize. I read 170 queries last week and only ended up asking for 3 partials.

    I haven’t thought about sorting them into personalized vs. “dear agent” but that’s an interesting stat. Also, those who claim to read the blog but obviously haven’t.

    Keep trucking. The jewels are in there.

    — Jennifer Jackson

  40. Luc2

    I’m wondering how many query letters started with a rhetorical question this time. Maybe a silver lining in that category?

  41. Nathan Bransford


    Thanks for reminding me. 5 began with rhetorical questions. (argh)

  42. Anonymous

    So a query shouldn’t describe a book as commercial, mainstream, or popular fiction? It seems there should be some sort of “general fiction” category.

  43. Anonymous

    Nathan, enjoying your stats, as usual, and just thought of a question. I would never begin a query with a rhetorical question, but I just did a rewrite of my novel, and the new first sentence actually begins with one, directed to the reader. I think it works in this case, but anything against doing that in the actual novel? Curious what you might think.

  44. Other Lisa

    Wow. More proof of the theory that though everyone may have a book inside of them, not all of those books should come out.

  45. Ello

    With all these duds out there, I think I’m looking pretty good! ;o)

    So how do you query someone because you like their looks? Does it sound like a classified ad?

    Hey baby! I like how you look! Why don’t you and I meet up and discuss how you are just the right agent for me?


    5’6 brunette with bouncy personality and vampire novel seeks handsome young agent for meaningful agency relationship.

    I’m sorry, but I am still laughing about that!

  46. Anonymous

    I’m in the same boat as “merry monteleone”–a regular blog reader that (unfortunately) refrains from emailing you a query, because I write mostly children’s picture books (with MG and YA pieces in the slow cooker).

    I am excited to say that I have recently received an offer of representation from an agent I feel would be a good match for me. This agent is excited about my project and has provided me with specific, positive feedback. The offer and contract all seem to be in order (standard commissions, no reading/postage/copy fees, follows AAR ethics, can terminate after 30-day notice, etc.), but it is a new agency. I’ve done my research (they are listed on PM, and are not critized P&E or similar websites) and truth be told I feel comfortable with the offer. I have contacted the other agencies that currently have my manuscript and am waiting a week to hear back from them.

    Nathan, generally speaking, in this situation is my trust and comfort with this new agent grounded? Or do you feel I should always shy away from a new agent, as a rule?

  47. Nathan Bransford


    Ultimately you have to go with your gut feeling. This is a new agency entirely? Does the agent have experience at another agency or publisher? If it’s a young agent at an established agency or an established agent at a new agency I think you’re fine on experience. But otherwise I’d really ask some questions.

  48. Sera Phyn

    Wow. Is everyone having the kind of day/weekend I have been? That sucks!

    I apologize for the… er, laziness of people, Nathan. You’re too cool to have to put up with it. (I get brownie points for that, yes? ;))

    As for your belief that all us good query writers will one day find an agent, I’m hoping you’re right. So far, no bites.

  49. Anonymous

    Did anyone sign their queries with Twiddle Dee or Twiddle Dumb?
    Just curios (lol)

  50. Nikki Duncan

    I attended a workshop this weekend where Agent Pam Strickler did critiques of people’s query letters. Though time didn’t allow her to get to mine, I can honestly say that thanks to your blog, none of the stuff she atacked with the red pen was in my letter. So, thank you for improving my chances in the query game.

  51. Dwight Wannabe


    Courtesy of your blog and reputation as a nice guy, you are getting “first look” at a big slice of all the queries moving through the industry.

    …Which means you are also getting first look at the crap too.

    I’ll empathize, but where sympathy is concerned, I’ll spot you thismuch.

  52. Anonymous

    My query was quite personal/exclusive and you still sent a form. A personal response wouldn’t have taken near the time it took you to compile the query stats for your blog. I’m not upset; other agents are showing interest. I just followed your advice to the letter.

  53. Cam

    “no freaking idea:3”

    Ouch for them. All that work and no idea what the genre is!

    But I’m wondering: I’ve noticed that using the formula of naming genre based on what section your project would be shelved in at a book store isn’t as clear-cut with nonfiction as it is with fiction.

    Given that good nonfiction usually is found in the front of the store, the genre name game seems different. No self-respecting writer who doesn’t yet have an agent or publisher could say, “My 55,00-word Nonfiction Bestseller…” without looking like an imbecil! Does the word “nonfiction” suffice if the 2-sentence descriptive paragraph of the work can make the agent drool — or see $$$s?


  54. Anonymous

    You’ve got to chalk it up to the fact that agents are gatekeepers set up to guard the publishers; the reason you’re there is to take the brunt of the masses’ assault so that the pubs don’t have to. That’s how you get paid. So of course you have to deal with a lot of loonies and misguided attempts at publication in order to locate those occassional gems.

  55. susangpyp

    Nathan: I’m interested in why you didn’t request any partials/proposals. What was it or were you just generally annoyed?

  56. Deborah B

    Thanks Nathan, I needed the laugh! After receiving a (very nice and personal) rejection from the agent I had the most hope for, it was good to get a glimpse from the other side. I’d sent it to you, but I’m pretty sure paranormal romance isn’t your bag (is there a catagory called “Witch Ennui”?). Let me know if you want to receive a personalized, followed-the-rules, perfect query letter just to make you feel better…even if it isn’t for your kind of book:)

  57. jjdebenedictis

    Anon 4:58 PM,

    You’re whining, and you’re asking for special treatment. Agents don’t owe you anything other than “No” when they’re passing on your work.

    Anon 5:16 PM,

    [T]he reason you’re there is to take the brunt of the masses’ assault so that the pubs don’t have to. That’s how you get paid.

    No, agents get paid by selling books. They answer query letters FOR FREE, out of a sense of professionalism.

  58. Nathan Bransford


    If you followed the rules and didn’t receive a personalized response I may have made a mistake. It happens from time to time, so, sorry about that.


    It is in the larger sense our job to whittle things down for publishers, but as jjdebenedictis said, the time I’m spending reading queries is time I’m spending not selling books, which is the job I’m being paid for.

  59. Wanda B. Ontheshelves

    Re: “I’m sure you’ve done this before, but could you clarify your definition of “women’s” fiction?”

    And while you’re at it, how about a definition of “men’s fiction” as well? You expounded at great length on The Wire. Would love to hear what you have to say about The Gender (as far as it relates to fiction categories).

  60. Mags

    I’ll see your unpersonalized queries and match you a rejection! Today I received a perfectly pleasant rejection from an agency. Well, okay, I and about 50 other writers received it with our email addresses all right there in the “to” box!

    Kinds doesn’t make a girl feel special, dig?

    I pointed the Bcc function out politely to the beleagured lit asst (and I swear I apologized for replying- this was just for the greater good, honest!). Bless his heart, he sent us all a very nice follow up (our emails still exposed to 50-ish of our rejected compadres) calling it a group rejection and suggested we form a support group (lots and lots of caps and exclamation points).

    I received it again 12 minutes later. Seems I somehow made a second distribution list.

    Maybe that’s where the bad writers go.

    He cared enough to reject me en masse on his employer’s behalf three times today.

    It’s probably wrong that I find this funny (and will continue to do so for as long as I remain confident that the fifty other rejected writers who now have my email address are relatively stable and just working the game one query at a time).

    Thing is, until our red-hot properties make you lots and lots of money, we want something from you and I get that. Still, I like my mass rejections handled in the Bcc field, if only to make me feel pretty.

  61. Deborah B


    I’m BEGGING you…tell us all the name of the agency, so we don’t end up on the other end of this charming missive.

  62. Jan

    My husband has Eeyore moods so I could really relate!! Sooooo sorry you had to read all those – and not get to request a single one!

    But thanks for sharing – it did give me a smile :o).

    I really wish you represented romance suspense with a twist of paranormal, then I’d be querying you too.

    But I love your blog and all the wonderful information you impart!

    Thanks! And watch out for those protests … I got caught in the middle of the WTO one in Seattle a few years back when I was still teaching at Seattle Central Community College.

    ~ Jan

  63. Adaora A.

    It is in the larger sense our job to whittle things down for publishers, but as jjdebenedictis said, the time I’m spending reading queries is time I’m spending not selling books, which is the job I’m being paid for.

    Ah! I see what you mean. I hope you’re not kicking yourself about it. Maybe I read too much into it, but it seems like it a bit. It’s like how my job (though not my life goal and only temporary, as a cashier), is to maintain a certain ‘credit blend’ and get people to sign up for credit cards. I can only convince people to do it if they want to. You can only sift out the gems from the rubble or wait/edit current clients projects. I’m getting paid to do the same thing, but I don’t always accomplish it, because of forces outside of my control.

    @mags – Can you hint some more as to which agency this is? Pretty pleasssse!

  64. J.P. Martin

    Nathan, you didn’t mention THE HILLS. You must have it saved on the DVR. Watch it when you get home tonight. Last night’s episodes are THE epitome of THE HILLS drama. They will make you forget about all of your agenting woes. They might make you want to crunch on 50 pills of Prozac, but it won’t be query letters that you’ll be thinking about.

    anon 10:55am-

    Don’t be bitter just because you got rejected.

  65. Lynne

    In the hundred acre wood, Eeyore has just learned that a new guy, named Tigger, has joined the crew. Someone says to Eeyore: “He’s just come!”
    Response: “When’s he going?” Poor Nathan. There he goes gathering nutty queries in April, tra-la, tra-la.

  66. Anonymous


    that doesn’t sound like a reputable agency. Or maybe it’s a reputable agency, but you just happened to get a new assistant on their first day, fresh out of school or something, but that is really bad judgement to send a group rejection.

  67. mkcbunny

    You know, Eeyore is quite endearing in his mopey way. Far better than that speed freak Tigger.

    I can’t believe it’s been a year since that male ennui discussion. Miss Snark led me to your blog, Nathan, and I’ve been enjoying it ever since. Thanks for an entertaining and enjoyable year.

    It seems like male ennui’s dropped off a bit since.

  68. twizzle

    you’re not bad, mags.

    you’re not bad, mags.

    you’re not bad, mags.

    you’re just special.

    you’re just special.

    you’re just special.

    just like your mom says. 🙂

    just like your mom says. 🙂

    just like your mom says. 🙂

  69. mlh

    You need to make a questionnaire for new writers to answer. It can pop up the moment they put your name in the subject field of the email.

    Question 1: Does your query start with a rhetorical question?

    Question 2: Does your query start out with an actual quote from the book?

    Question 3: Truth time. Did you do any research on agents, or did you just print out a bunch of our photos, hung them on the wall, and threw darts to see who would get your first query?

    Question 4: Were you the shadowy figure outside my bedroom window holding the 2000-page manuscript? Your sighs of longing kept me up for most of the night.

    Depending on the answers, the computer program will automatically give a suitable rejection letter.

    A questionnaire. Just a suggestion.

  70. Anonymous

    Actually, I’ve decided to drop anyone who blogs from my list of agents to query.

  71. La Gringa

    Did you get the guy who attached a nude photo of himself yet? I got that one last week.

    No, I’m not kidding.

    And they wonder why we delete attachments.

  72. Mags

    Anonymous 9:34 said…

    that doesn’t sound like a reputable agency. Or maybe it’s a reputable agency, but you just happened to get a new assistant…

    Reputable, yes. I suspect the latter is true. Fascinating “reply alls” still coming in.

    Deborah B. and Adaora A., sorry! Can’t match his dropping my personal info on strangers by doing the same to him on a larger scale. (I’ll just post silly comments on another agent’s blog instead! You know- the high road!) Don’t worry- I’m assuming rejection #1 was an inadvertant or newbie error, rejection #2 was a poor choice of response to it, and rejection #3… Well… Okay, I’m out of ideas about #3 but I think I’m the only one who made both distribution lists!

    Twizzle, ha, ha, and ha! 🙂

  73. Captain Ron

    That’s amazing, Nathan. But how do you feel about accepting revised queries? What if someone totally revised their query according to you valued advice, and resubmitted it to you. Would it piss you off? Would you automatically reject it? Could a revised query possibly spark your interest?

  74. Nathan Bransford

    captain ron-

    No, I can’t consider revised queries.

  75. jjdebenedictis

    Anon 6:18 AM said:
    Actually, I’ve decided to drop anyone who blogs from my list of agents to query.

    Then why are you here? Is flouncing off in disdain no fun when there are no witnesses?

  76. Adaora A.

    @Mags – Oh bore! I’m just messing with you, I know it would be a bit of a compromise, a fiddle, if you were to divulge.
    I wonder how many query letters addressed you as “Mr. Curtis Brown.”

  77. Anonymous

    what does “No freaking Idea” mean?
    Like U. curious minds want to know!

  78. JR Tomlin

    Bites tongue until it BLEEDS to restrain comments about how horrible it is that agents get queries.

    And by the way, I refuse to do the “kiss up” paragraph. Feel free to delete my query on sight, but if you can’t like my writing without my kissing up, you definitely aren’t the agent for me nor am I the client for you.

    There now we agree.

  79. Anonymous

    jjdebenedictis- –

    You mean it’s not OK for me to read the blog?

  80. jjdebenedictis

    Anon 12:21 PM,
    You mean it’s not OK for me to read the blog?

    Of course it is, but coming to an agent’s blog and saying, “I refuse to query you because you blog” certainly gives the impression that you’re having a snit and would like someone to notice.

    If that’s not what you intended, I apologize for my misinterpretation of your remarks, but I am having trouble understanding your rationale. Why do you think an agent would care that you’ve decided never to be his/her client? Most people who do query the agent are never going to be his/her clients.

  81. melissalobianco

    I’d like to offer a little PSA, if you’ll all indulge me a moment.

    Alas, I was among Mr. Bransford’s recently rejected queriers. I’m not ashamed, though at first it might seem like I should be. See, I queried a Children’s Picture Book (and, NO, not based on his appearance…)

    Thing is, I wouldn’t have even thought to, based on what I’ve so far read on his blog. Mr. Bransford, you just don’t strike me as a Picture Book kind of guy. But in my catching- up, I came upon an impression that you were open to various genre. Google searches were opening interviews in which you were quoted as saying you were interested in just about any engaging thing. You Never Know, you said in one.

    There are so few Agents/Agencies who represent Children’s Books that when the writer devines one, it’s nearly impossible to determine whether or not “Children’s Books” covers “Picture Books”, specifically; that the former is listed in a given resource doesn’t necessarily indicate whether or that the latter is included. Children’s Books run the gammut from your Pat the Bunny-type monosyllabic warm-and-fuzzy board book all the way through chapter books to YA. If you’ve already come across an Agent (say, through a blog) that you wish represented what you’ve written, and then you find out he sort-of might represent what you’ve written and he might request a read because 1)When in Doubt, Query Me; and 2)You Never Know, know what? I’m goin’ for it. Because digging further into the Agent/Agency – I’m here to tell you – doesn’t necessarily clear up the ambiguity. Ergo, the query process: Do you/Would you represent this? It’s not – in my case, anyway (can’t speak for No-freakin’-idea person) – for lack of research. Though, I am polishing my query every chance I get, mindful that, well, okay! Perhaps you might’ve asked for a look had my query not broken a couple of your hard-and-fasts.

    I guess my point is that I’m willing to take my share of the responsibility for making your time such drudgery. Truly. And for your valuable time, I’m sorry. And we’re going to have to all just agree to put up with some drudgery (and rejection) if we’re any of us going to make this business worth it for us, as a business.

    This is me, sucking it up.

  82. Nathan Bransford


    Absolutely no reason to apologize — like I said, I say when in doubt query me and I appreciate that you thought of me.

  83. archangelbeth

    And by the way, I refuse to do the “kiss up” paragraph.

    …agents want “kiss up” paragraphs? Dang. The agent who wants to see my proposal again, once I finish revising it according to her (absolutely brilliant and cogent) suggestions, didn’t get a “kiss up” paragraph. Unless you’re counting “thank you for your time” as kissing up. I just followed all the guidelines I could find regarding what she wanted in a submission. (And added in a single line based on a comment from Agent Manners.)

    In the other half of my experience, I’ve done editor work (for a really, really niche market); how well an author follows the rules indicates how easy that author will be to work with. When I can come up with 3-6 people who can adequately cover a subject and rise to brilliance now and then, I have little tolerance for prima donas, no matter how good their proposal is. I’ve been burned before with drama when I ignored that sort of behavior in proposals. And, therefore, I don’t expect any agent to put up with prima dona hi-jinks from my direction.


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Hi, I’m Nathan. I’m the author of How to Write a Novel and the Jacob Wonderbar series, which was published by Penguin. I used to be a literary agent at Curtis Brown Ltd. and I’m dedicated to helping authors chase their dreams. Let me help you with your book!

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