Assessing the odds of publishing my novel

I follow several literary agents on Twitter, as part of my ongoing effort to persuade one of them to represent my novel. One of those agents posted some sobering statistics recently.

First, some statistics of my own. To date, I have sent queries to almost 100 agents who handle mystery and suspense fiction, and I have had two ask to see my full manuscript. Many rejected my query with polite form letters, while others never responded at all.

That may not seem promising to many people, but I knew it would be tough going in. It is tough because agents receive queries pretty much non-stop, and will devote time only to those that show promise. Many agents won’t even tell you they don’t want to do business with you; they’ll just ignore your query and move on.

The agent I mentioned earlier received 3,998 queries in 2015. She asked to see the full manuscript for only 23 of those, and took on only 9 new clients. Only 9.

Not all literary agents share such data, but anecdotal evidence strongly suggests such statistics are the norm. So if two of the 90 or so agents I have sent queries so far asked to see my MS, that means I can at least get the attention of a few agents.

The trick is finding the agent who will really fall in love with my book. Perhaps it is just a matter of time.

So, I keep trying. I will send at least one query a day, more if possible, until I sell my book or exhaust every option for traditional publishing success. It does not matter much to me if that means print, or e-book only. 

I may even self-publish, if that is what it takes. But that is a tough road, too, and I am not ready to give up on this path.

Onward!

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