Now that I’m feeling pretty good about my novel and started work on its sequel, I’ve begun looking to find a literary agent to represent me (and the book). I have to say, agent hunting is an incredibly daunting process. There are hundreds, if not thousands, of literary agents (there is no authorization required to claim the title). Some are reputable, some are not. And, as in nearly every other part of the publishing biz, the numbers stacked against the writer can be staggering.
Take Jennifer Jackson, for instance. Ms. Jackson is an associate with one of the most reputable literary agencies, the Donald Maass Literary Agency. She has a very impressive client list. She also, as luck would have it, keeps up an excellent blog wherein she provides well-considered insights into the agenting world. Among these many morsels of wisdom is her “Letters from the Query Wars” series of posts, in which she points out the numbers of queries she’s getting and how many inspired her to seek more information from the writer. This week she read 152 queries. Of those, she requested more information on one, a historical fantasy.
Taken as a general predictor, then, we might say that odds of a good agent asking for more information on a query are 150 to 1 against. She gives no indication of the odds after that point — clearly, not every request for more information will result in the agent offering a contract to the writer — and I don’t even want to hazard a guess on what they would be. Suffice it to say, the numbers can be a bit knee-quaking.
Still, nothing for it but to lean into the wind. Then it’s just a matter of walking…