Some the info below is stuff we've all read before, but it never hurts to read it again. I think Nathan's use his personal stats really drives the point home. Read the following blog post and go to Nathan's site to see the original and reader responses.
Monday, August 24, 2009 Post by Nathan Bransford from his blog, Nathan Bransford, Literary Agent
Agent E-mail Stats
Every Monday morning, as sure as the rooster's cry (I don't actually have a rooster) I can expect to come in to 100+ e-mails from the weekend, mostly queries. I like to think of it as the Monday Deluge, and it means that if I'm going to answer all of them (and oh, I do) plus the regular work for clients and such, it can make for a bit of a hectic day.
It also explains why you may be hearing from me on the weekend: if I put in some Saturday or Sunday e-mail time it makes Monday oh so much easier. But since I was reading manuscripts this past weekend I didn't get to any queries. So: hello 100+ e-mails! Nice to see you this chilly Monday morning.
As I was working through the e-pile, it got me wondering: how many e-mails do I send anyway? Sure seems like a lot.
Well, as of today, according to Outlook I've sent 11,921 e-mails so far this year. That's just for work -- it doesn't count personal correspondence. Most are responses to queries, but it also includes e-mails to clients, colleagues, editors, you name it.
11,921 e-mails as of August 24th translates to about 50 per day, including weekends and vacation time.
To put that in perspective, let's say I worked nine hours every single day, including weekends, and didn't take any vacation or break for lunch. 11,921 e-mails translates to an e-mail every ten minutes. Somewhere in that time I also theoretically have to read manuscripts, have meetings, talk on the phone, and, you know, read the queries I'm responding to, while still maintaining that e-mail every ten minutes pace.
Oh, and in real life I really do take vacation and try to break somewhat on weekends... and thus have to work considerably more than nine hours a day during weekdays.
What does this all mean?
First of all, I'm not complaining. I love my job, even if it means I'm staring at a screen (computer, Kindle or iPhone) for the majority of my waking hours.
But here's what it means for writers: the next time you wonder why agents send form letters or why some don't respond to queries altogether... please remember these stats.
It also means that I necessarily have to make snap decisions when I'm reading queries. I don't really have time to sit down, contemplate, and absorb the aura of a query. There are tons more in line and I have to move quickly if I'm going to get through the day. So if a query is needlessly long or doesn't include key details (published authors, once again: PUBLICATION DATE AND PUBLISHER DON'T MAKE ME GO TO AMAZON ARGH) hopefully this puts into perspective why literary agents turn into lunatics about certain pet peeves that end up costing precious time.
So there you have it. I would write more... but I need to go write some e-mails.
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