How Many Literary Agent or Publishing Query Letters Should You Send Out?

I’m committed to sending out five to 10 letters per month for my non-fiction book because I don’t want to overwhelm myself. I haven’t heard anything yet from the agents that I sent to a month ago. Some agents take 2-weeks, some take 6-weeks, and others take 12-weeks. It would have been nice to have heard something by now. Alas, literary agents are busy people and won’t respond unless they’re interested, but it would be nice I would have received an email or letter in the mail. At least I would know the agents received my query letter and manuscript (where applicable). I know I’m dreaming but it could happen. Dreams do come true!

Hint: Read my blog post ‘Writers Keep Track of Query Letters‘ in order to keep track of your letters. You don’t want to send a query letter twice to the same agent or publisher.

The jury’s out on how many query letters you should send each month but the bottom line is it must be a manageable number for you. If sending out 20 query letters seems daunting to you, cut the number down to 10. If sending out 20 query letters is manageable, make sure you use a tracking system to ensure you don’t send an agent or publishers a letter more than once. You could blow your chances of representation if you do.

Don’t feel pressured to send out 20 or more query letters per month. Start with five query letters and build from there. You want to give agents and publishers ample time to read your letter and manuscript (if applicable) and respond to you. Let them know that you’re sending out ‘multiple submissions’ because you could you receive multiple offers. You want to have ample time to make the best decision for you.

Sending out query letters doesn’t have to be scary. There are plenty of books, teleseminars, webinars, and classes to walk you through the process but the bottom line is this: if you have a fresh, marketable idea that will make people a ton of money, you’ll get signed. This may be a bitter pill to swallow for some writers but it’s the truth. Professionals in the publishing industry are no different from professionals in other industries — they have to come under budget and produce a profit. If you write a fiction or non-fiction that does that you’ll have a formula for success. Good luck!


How many query letters have you sent out for your book? Share.


  1. Pingback: all your stars are out … » Publishing a novel: What are your options? #2 No representation

  2. I totally disagree. This is such a SLOW process that having 100 queries out is not the least unmanageable. You could have 200-300 easily. The thing you most definately want to do is research who you send to and track all so you don’t resend to them again. Some are okay with email – others are more old-school and want paper snail mail queries. You also need to track who asks for partials or fulls and if you find an agent, you MUST let the others know so that they take you out of their group so that it frees them up to look at the work of others.

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