Occupy Linda’s e-mailbox: Searching for that 1%

I’ve had to try really, really hard to stay “unplugged.” No work e-mail. No Twitter. No Facebook. I’ve actually been reading a book. With paper pages. Not in manuscript form! This is a pretty big deal for me.

But today I just glanced at my work e-mail. And holy shit there were so many of them! Queries upon queries upon queries, piling up, into a huge, scary mountain of work, just waiting to smother me when I’m no longer on my self-imposed “vacation.” So I answered some. I felt kind of bad, because who wants to get rejected during the holiday season? I’m sorry. Really I am.

I found a query from someone whose work I remember admiring a few years ago, before I was building my own client list or had any kind of  clout. So that was a full request. And there was another manuscript that looked kind of interesting, which I requested. And then there were the ones that just didn’t follow submission guidelines. I’ve decided: those are going in the trash, unanswered. I’m busy here, folks! I can’t have a whole e-mail interaction advising people about the proper way to send in their submissions, when 99% of the time they’re getting rejected anyway.

Did you know that’s an actual statistic? I’ve spoken to other agents and noticed from my own experience, both as an agent and as a reader for other agents, only about 1% of queries get asked for a follow up (a full if there’s already been a partial, or a partial if there’s only been a query). That’s right. 1 in 100. Ok, I probably ask for more, but no more than 2-3 out of 100.

So polish and re-write and edit and revise and polish some more. You want your work to shine. You want it to be the very best you can do. And then, cross your fingers or rub a rabbit’s foot or do whatever luck inducing ritual you can think of! Believe it or not, I’m rooting for you (hence the 2-3%), even if ultimately I end up rejecting you.

Ok. I’m unplugging again. I probably won’t post again until next year. Go read a book. Or write a book! And have a safe, fun, happy New Year! Peace out.

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