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Friday, February 22, 2013

When Math Makes You Happy

I didn't fail math in high school. I failed to remember it after I left the class, but I did technically get a B in calculus. To this day it's a mystery how I passed the class. Some things aren't worth dwelling on, are they?

Most days math makes me angry. I don't use it for much more than balancing my budget these days and with the cost of fresh fruit during winter, well, that would make anyone frustrated. Still, math has it's uses.

Math gives us data points.

There is never a time when you can have enough data points. Especially when you are a control freak scientist on query where you have nearly no control over what happens next. You write the best darn book possible and pray to all the gods you can name that the right agent sees your query on the right day and in the right mood and will write you a cheerful note about how right this manuscript is for them.

In a panic over my query stats after seeing another "How I Met My Agent!" post (which I love - don't get me wrong - I find it very inspiring) I went to consult some cold hard numbers. There is something of a statistical pattern to the "How I Met My Agent!" stories. A certain number of queries, a certain number of rejections, a certain number in general. Are these statistically significant numbers? I didn't check. I noticed a general trend and ran to do the stats.

The Vague Breakdown
Number of Queries Sent: 30-70 ... the lowest number I've seen recently is 12, the highest was still under 100
Percent of Positive Response: 25% ... this is a pretty steady number even amongst the uber savvy querying authors. One quarter of the queries sent out garnered something other than rejection.
Percent of Full Requests: < 10% ... again, this is a pretty steady number. Out of a bath of 40 queries an author might see full requests from 3 of the agents.
Average Length of Query Time: 1 year... the quickest "first query to agent!" number is 6 months.This makes sense if you assume authors query biweekly in batches of 5-10 agents at a time. With a 3-4 month turn around on responses a year of querying is very sensible.

Looking at those stats I have roughly two more batches of queries to send. I'm doing better on my percent of positive responses (i.e. requests for materials), but then I cheated and about half my requested pages are from pitch contests not directly from queries.

This math makes me happy. I haven't heard anything about JANE DOE this month and that makes me twitchy. It would make any author twitchy. But I think it's going to be okay. JANE DOE is going to find an agent that loves her soon.

In the meantime, Book 2 of the Heroes and Villains series is headed to my betas this weekend and in March I'm writing a brand new novel. You can find some hints to what my March WIP is about by checking out my Top Secret Tumblr and searching "Lady".

Have a great weekend!
- Liana

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