Our agency received over 1100 queries in February. The agents read about 680 (60%) by the end of the month.
On average, there are ~6 queries daily per agent. Over 40 weekly for each person.
A query can take 10 minutes to half an hour to read through. That’s about 14 hours per week spent on queries. This is why we reject poor-quality queries after page one or two. We just don’t have time.
(Note: most agents don’t spend 14 hrs/wk on queries. Many have assistants like me. Or every few weeks they pull 12 hours speed-reading through their queries. They have clients and edits and sales to make. Clients come first.)
For every legible query, I read the 1-page query letter and 2 sample pages. If I can’t make up my mind, I read further. I read ~200 pages each week.
Out of 200 queries to my boss in February, I requested 13. My request rate: 6%. Another agent answered 80 queries in 2 weeks: 79 rejections, 1 request. Her request rate: 1.3%.
The other 94% of queries I read got rejections. I use a rejection form which I personalize for each person. Special cases arise requiring a longer letter. Rejecting 10-15 manuscripts can take me 45 minutes.
Of my 185 rejections, most were for the three common flaws I blogged about. The commonest is: too much telling and description, not enough showing, action, and immersion. Next: too many plot holes.
Most authors I reject are people I believe can make it one day. They work hard and care about improving. They need to write 1-2 more books to hone their skills before they hit their stride. After that, they’ll be ready to query, and I want to see their stuff.
The occasional writer isn’t ready for the query process. They haven’t edited the book enough or haven’t researched the proper way to query. It’s impossible to tell if the book is good because their query is vague, there’s no pitch, or the pages are too rough. In other words, they queried a first draft.
Out of ~36 total queries each day to the agency, I usually trash one without sending a rejection. Either it included attachments or looked too much like spam for me to take seriously.