Hope everyone had a lovely Labor Day weekend! Back by popular demand……… query stats!! Although this time I did things a little differently.
In the past I’ve compiled query stats by genre, but those ratios never really changed all that much, so… I kind of got bored of compiling them. Solution: new categories!
I often receive the question: what is the ideal length for a query? Well, now I know. Or at least I have a ballpark.
Between last Tuesday morning and the time of this post I ran a Word count on every query I received. I (basically) counted everything between “Dear Nathan” and “Sincerely, Author.” If the author included sample pages in the body of the e-mail I did not count those. If the author said “please see my synopsis” in lieu of writing an actual query, I counted the synopsis. If the author included a bio or other material after their signature I included that, since that’s the type of thing that should go in the body of a query.
I received 180 queries in the last week, which seems a tad lighter than average (probably because of the holiday weekend). Here’s the breakdown by number of words.
The shortest query I received was about 50 words, the longest was 2,200+.
Why are 200-300 and 300-400 in bold? Well, after doing this for a week I basically decided that there is a sweet spot in query word count between 250 and 350 words. Anything shorter than 250 usually (but not always) seems too short and anything longer than 350 usually (but not always) seems too long.
As you can see from the stats, this means that about half of all queries are the right length while half are either too short or too long…. with a good chunk that are WAY too long.
Keep in mind that this chart doesn’t really convey just how long many of these queries look on the page. Everything I’ve written in this post up to THIS POINT is about 360 words. And it’s a lot of words! There were 33 queries that were 400-500 words, which means that they were anywhere from 50-150 words past the “sweet spot.” 150 words is a lot. Sometimes there can be a compelling reason for going this long, such as if you need to explain some extenuating situation in addition to the query. But not usually.
And then there were even queries that were way longer than that!
Of these 180 queries, I requested 4. 1 was in the 200-300 range, 2 were in the 300-400 range, and one was 400-500, but had a very good reason for being that long.
Keep those queries at a reasonable length!! I’ll soon have a post on things to leave out of a query, which will hopefully help with the editing process.