July 2nd, 2010


letters from the query wars 7/2/2010

# of queries read last week: 138
# of partial/manuscripts requested: 1
genre of partials/manuscripts requested: romance

# of queries read this week: 187
# of partial/manuscripts requested: 1
genre of partials/manuscripts requested: science fiction thriller

oldest query in the queue: June 16th

The manuscript I requested this week is one I've read before. Many, many moons ago. Though it had much to recommend it, it still seemed to need further development. At that time, I sent the author my thoughts and comments. Apparently they took them to heart and have now returned with a revision. I'm intrigued to see how the story has evolved.

I wanted to mention this because I know that the statistics can look daunting, even if one sets aside the sizable percentage of queries that are for unfinished books, categories not represented, and so on -- the kinds of things that shouldn't be coming my way in the first place.

But statistics don't tell individual stories.

I'm also seeing a hike in the number of queries from young people lately. I believe the youngest was about 10 years old, but there are many from authors in their early teens. Some of them are clearly talented and creative, but their style is still maturing. I hope these young authors continue to explore their gifts.

Reportedly, Helen Hooven Santmyer was nine years old when she decided she wanted to be a writer. She was 87 when her first novel, _And Ladies of the Club_ was published by a university press.

Amelia Atwater-Rhodes wrote the manuscript for _In the Forests of the Night_ (formerly _White Wine_) at age 13, and it was picked up by Delacorte Press in 1999 when she was age 14. She has since that time had nine more novels published.

Statistics don't tell individual stories.

Scotland's Jean MacLeod had her first novel published in 1938 by Harlequin Mills and Boon. Last year it was reported that she was working on her 130th book.

Donna Tartt began writing the novel that became the bestselling and well-received _The Secret History_ while in college. It was published 8 years later. It was 10 years before her next novel, _The Little Friend_ was released. Her third novel is tentatively scheduled for 2012.

Statistics don't tell individual stories.

Which is something I remind myself of whenever I sit down to look at queries or read submissions....