Monday, June 23, 2008

Submission Reporting

It’s been a long time since I’ve reported in on my submissions—what I read and my decisions. I know readers like to see this from time to time, so here we go. . . .

The weekend was incredibly productive for me. I was able to get a lot of queries read from Friday to Sunday. Keep in mind, I did not look at requested material that may have come through via email, but simply unsolicited query letters. I was about a week behind in my reading, which means that some things might have been a week old, but nothing had been sitting in my in-box any longer than that and, frankly, most of what I read was between 5 and 7 days old. In other words, this was roughly 2 to 3 days' worth of queries.

In those 3 days I read 79 submissions. The sad thing about that is that I sill have over 100 queries sitting in my in-box.
  • Of those 79 I rejected 73.
  • I requested 5 partials and 1 full (the author had wisely included about 3 to 5 pages in her query).
  • I received 2 queries that told me a great deal about the author and her background, but nothing about the book (other than title).
  • 2 queries I forwarded to either Jacky or Kim because, while I rejected them, I thought Jacky or Kim might have some interest.
  • 2 authors sent the letter and/or other materials as an attachment rather than in the body of the email, while 5 authors sent no letter, simply author name, title, genre, and the synopsis. I really prefer a letter.
  • Only 11 of the 79 queries were nonfiction.
  • 3 were sent to my assistant instead of me and needed to be forwarded
  • 4 of the emails were simply asking questions about a previous rejection, submission policies, or something else publishing-related.
  • And last, 2 of the emails, both from the same person, were haranguing me for giving advice on writing a stronger query, called me stupid (among other things), and told me point-blank that all authors are superior to me. Interesting weekend reading.
Keep in mind that my reasons for rejection are long and varied. Some, at least 2, were for YA or middle-grade books, which I don’t represent. Some, at least 2, were far outside acceptable word counts, and while I think word counts can always be stretched, these were a little too far (below 30,000 words and above 175,000). Some sounded interesting, but just not different enough. Some sounded different enough but the writing in the query did not give a positive indication of how the writing in the book would hold up. And some just didn’t inspire me.

I feel pretty good about my weekend. You? How was your weekend?



Liana Brooks said...

So, that last person doesn't want a career in publishing, does s/he?

What a fascinating way to make sure you get rejected. If I ever need to break off a truly horrible relationship I'll keep that tactic in mind.

David A. Todd said...


Interesting to see these statistics, and to see how many would-be authors did not do their homework.

How was my weekend? Thanks for asking. I completed the synopsis for my second novel (first unpublished) that an agent asked for at a conference last month, and edited it once. Now I need to put the other fiction proposal pieces around it. I sent the proposal for my non-fiction book to four beta readers, and am anxiously waiting the results so I can do the final edit and send it off this week.


Anonymous said...

What just_me said... You mentioned you actually got TWO emails from that person; one at least hopes he/she didn't just re-send the same message, but had the wit to do a second draft!

I'm new here, but fwiw I too had a fabulously productive weekend. The revisions have finally reached "critical mass," y'know? That stage where I can read it and say, Dang. I can actually READ this now!

Anonymous said...

Had a great weekend as well.....(maybe a bit too much wine, but that's another story)....finished editing the additional 12k I needed for my ms and emailed it to my the waiting begins......

Anonymous said...

Jessica, long-time listener, first-time caller. Just had to say that last person was hilarious, stewing away in their bile. Too bad you had to cop it, but a good example of What Not To Do.

My weekend was glorious. Meandered out to Monet's house in Giverny with friends, enjoyed the craziness that is Paris during the Fete de la Musique, caught up with more friends... did not one lick of work and enjoyed myself immensely :-)

Angie Fox said...

I spent the weekend enjoying the family, and two great books - one a cozy mystery, and the other a funny paranormal. It's a kick to find not one, but two, books to enjoy/devour in a single weekend.

The Wannabe Scribe said...

Excellent weekend here too!

Finished Chapter 11 of my WIP.

Outlined a new character that I'd been thinking of bringing in (well, I gave him a name at least).

And in the real world I managed to partially clear out the shed.


Angie Fox said...

Okay, I'm changing my answer. I want Gabrielle's weekend.

Melinda Leigh said...

Sorry you had to take such abuse, and on a weekend, too.

My weekend was great. Thanks for asking. Spent Saturday at the NJRW meeting, where Jane Porter gave an amazing talk on alpha heros and their heroines. Then went home and had a Eureka moment with my current project. Oh, what a feeling!

Robena Grant said...

I'd like Gabrielle's weekend, too, Angie. Grin. Instead mine was an armchair adventure. Read a Harlan Coben novel and tried to stay inside. We've been in heat wave conditions for over a week. I went back to the WIP and puttered, made a little dent.

Aimlesswriter said...

To the author who called you stupid: Way to shred your career before you even get off the ground! Lets just piss off one of the people who might eventually help get you published.

sorry...I just don't understand the thought process there.

It amazes me how much you have to slug through just to get to something you really want. You must have the patience of a saint.

Re: the weekend. Painting, painting and Oh the joy of painting!

Mark Terry said...

My weekend? Pretty good. Almost done with the rough draft of a YA novel. Working on a NF book proposal. Got a new kayak, but the weather didn't hold long enough for me to get out on the lake. Otherwise, fine.

Oh yeah, saw Hulk.

Psssssttttt. "Iron Man" is better.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for sharing the interesting stats on the rejections. I'm curious about what was unique in the six queries that prompted you to request more. Could you give us any insight into what made those letters successful? Genre? Subgenre? Word count? Author qualifications? Plot hooks? Thanks.

PatriciaW said...

Thanks for posting your stats, Jessica. I find them interesting.

You wrote "3 were sent to my assistant instead of me and needed to be forwarded."

Was that simply an observation or is that a problem for you?

Sandra Cormier said...

I attended our local annual Polo For Heart and started thinking about a polo-based romantic suspense. This is my seventh year at this great event and now I'm looking at the whole scene with a fresh eye.

In other news, the car died (again) and I can't wait for the chance to push it over a cliff LOL!

Keri Ford said...

Hmm...I read Christie Craig's Wedding's Can Be Murder and loved it. Napped, napped some more, caught some sun, and, oh, yeah....finished some edits on a manuscript I've been slaving at!! One more read through and that puppy will be put on the front porch for viewin'!

Vicki said...

I had a great weekend, thanks for asking. I got my hair cut and added some low lights to it, love it. Worked on a the new wip, critiqued my cp’s newest first chapter, which included plotting, rewrote my query, which sort of sounds more like a synopsis of the synopsis now, and hung out with Science Guy (my guy).

Yep, it was a great weekend. Oh, and I'm cutting words from AT&B since I think it's about 5K to many.

Bernita said...

Weekend spent in front of the computer w/ a bag of frozen peas on an injured foot, twittering over whether I should annoy you with a query or not.

Shayla Kersten said...

Your weekend was very productive! I spent Saturday afternoon on a pontoon boat on beautiful Lake Hamilton (Hot Springs, AR) plotting books with three author friends.

Amazing the ideas that will pop into your head in a glorious setting of sun and water while surrounded by multi-million dollar houses!

Christie Craig said...


Wow. That’s a lot of reading. You did get a lot accomplished. My weekend was busy and fun? I gave a workshop for Brazos Writer’s in College Station, Texas. Great group of writers. I spoke on: The Naked Truth: Love Scenes and Other Scenes that Show Your Characters at Their Most Vulnerable. So it was very interesting. Lots of laughter because it was a mixed group and we did some comparing of how men approached these scenes and how women approached them. Poor guys, they were out numbered, though.

Then I wrote my weekly blog for Killer Fiction, and got my newsletter out to my website list.

Thank you Keri for reading and mentioning my book. I actually yelped with glee when I saw your post. I don’t know if I will ever lose the thrill of knowing my book is out in the world and in reader's hands, but I sure as heck hope not.


Anonymous said...

I think there is a lot of mental illness in the world. How else can you explain that e-mailer's behavior? It's not rational, that's for sure.

I took my four kids to the beach to escape 100 degree heat and while there someone lit four separate fires along the highway. Many buildings were destroyed and animals were killed. Why would someone do that?

On the bright side, we were walking along the beach when we noticed some people pointing out to sea. There was a whale out there, spouting away. And then the whale breached and my six year-old squealed with delight (and so did his mom!)

Anonymous said...


Quick curiousity question: When you forwarded the queries to Kim and Jacky, did you just send the email on to them, or did you send a rejection to the author? And if the latter, did you mention that you'd passed the query on?


Julie Weathers said...

Sorry you had to put up with le moron, but, hopefully, there will be a gem in the ones you liked.

I do wonder when you rest if every weekend is a working weekend.

As for mine, fairly productive actually. The zumba class looked like too much fun at the gym so I decided to try it. Mistake. Mangled knee is still talking to me about things like common sense.

I worked on an exercise for a writing workshop and discovered some interesting things about my wip. I like my characters! They are all pretty unique with a multi-dimensional quality. However, much to my surprise, even though I can plainly see them, three of them have no descriptions. It's amazing what you see when you dissect your work.

So, I think I had a productive weekend also. Knee disagrees, but who listens to a knee?

K.A. Stewart said...

I was sans child over the weekend and managed to get nothing productive done. (unless you count a few hours of lovely uninterrupted reading-for-pleasure productive)

Sometimes, we just need the downtime, I guess.

Phoenix Sullivan said...

Spent some of the weekend gearing up for the grand opening of our new author/book promo site: Book Roast.

Come by if you have a chance!

Book Roast

Serving up authors and books lightly grilled and seasoned with humor

Yes, we know a promo op when we see it ;o)

Anonymous said...

Wow! Has your last e-mailer got a screw loose?
I had a lovely weekend snuggled in front of the fire with 2 good books. A Sharon McCone mystery, and a family saga by Hillary Norman. Great reading both of them.

Jessica, your weekend workload is awesome and makes mine look like a lazy stroll in the park, although not much strolling in our part of the world last weekend.
Those of you in heatwave conditions spare a thought for us who've had the fridge door of the Antartic swing wide open and deliver the first bitterly cold winter storm. Hail, snow gales flooding, road closures, the lot. Although to be honest the hail and snow happen much further south from where we live. It's rare to see a dusting of snow on the ranges near us.

Ah but we're on the road back to summer now we've past the shortest day.

Alexis Fleming said...

I had an interesting weekend. I just did my first workshop ever for the Canberra Writers' Festival. And I also took part in a panel on reading and writing romance. That sound you hear is the echo from my knees knocking. Actually, it all went off okay. lol I think! I did get an invite to come back again so it can't have been too shabby. Public speaking and I have not been the best of friends until now. But I also realize it's necessary on occasion, so I'm learning. Now it's time to tuck my head down and get my tail into gear and get my latest submission rewritten. I figured I'd get a rejection. What I got was a rewrite and resubmit. Now that's a rejection!! lol

Francesca Hawley said...

You said the author of whom you requested a full wisely sent you 3-5 pages of their manuscript with their email query. Would you recommend authors include those pages when querying agents in general?