Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Agency Management of Query Letters

Reader Mark has noted the large number of query letters received by my agency annually and raises some questions. Actually, the 7,500 figure reflects queries addressed directly to me. Agents Jennifer DuVall and Kevin McAdams of Schiavone Literary also receive additional queries addressed to each of them respectively. This means that overall we get some 10,000 query letters each year. Mark asks, "How do you review the details of so many inputs?" Obviously, this is not an easy task. On our Web site we indicate that we give preference to authors published by major houses. We also state the we have a 99% rejection of all queries. We believe it is important to be upfront with our prospective clients. In point of fact we are scouting for exceptional new talent. However, our candid approach has not stemmed the flow of queries to us. Obviously we would be lost without the queries we depend on to discover new talent and to serve established authors who wish to join our ever expanding enterprise.

I consider many factors in handling the details of the queries. For example, vampire stories have proven to be very popular with contemporary readers so I would expect substantial input from authors who have chosen to write for this genre. However, I never dreamed that I would receive hundreds upon hundreds of queries for books about vampires, as well as werewolves.
Again, during the Harry Potter craze I was inundated with children's books about witches and goblins, and that is far from over. Many letters suggested that Harry Potter move over and make room for a girl, say Harriet, to capture center stage. I'm not certain that jumping on a band wagon will lead to success.

Other considerations particularly with nonfiction books involve the author's qualifications and platform which I have discussed in other sections on query letters. By and large each agent at Schiavone Literary makes his/her own decisions regarding the offer of representation. On occasion I have consulted with some of my colleagues in academia before making an offer of representation.

We take pride in representing some of the finest authors in the world.