Posted by: Kathy Temean | January 13, 2010

Agent Janet Reid Shares Numbers

Janet Reid, literary agent

FinePrint Literary Management
240 West 35th Street #500
New York, NY  10001
t: 212 279 1776



This summer agent Janet Reid started keeping notes on the results from the 124 full novel manuscripts she requested.  

Here’s what happened:

Just plain not good enough: 21 (a novel needs to be in the 99th percentile-these were closer to 90%–not bad, but not good enough)

Good premise, but the rest of the novel didn’t hold up: 11

Not compelling or vivid, or focused; no plot/tension: 10

Slow start or the pace was too slow: 9

I didn’t believe the narrative voice: 5

Structural problems with the novel: 8

Interesting premise, but not a fresh or new take on familiar plots/tropes: 7

Had caricatures rather than characters: 2

Boring: 3

Grossed me out: 2

Major plot problems: 2

Needed more polish and editorial input than I wanted to do: 2

Good books but I couldn’t figure out where to sell them: 7

Got offer elsewhere; I withdrew from scrum: 2

Great writing, just not right for me: 2

Not right for me, refer to other agents: 9

Not quite there/send me the next one: 1

Sent back for revisions with editorial suggestions – expect to see in 2010: 9

Getting second read at FPLM: 1

Got offer from me: 2

Fine Print Literary  represents fiction, both literary and commercial, including thrillers, mysteries, fantasy, women’s, romance, chick lit, YA and middle grade readers. However, they are not the right agency for poetry, plays, screenplays, or children’s picture books.

Bottom line:  Janet asked for 124 full manuscripts in the second half of 2009 and 2 received representation.  Ten still have a chance to get a, “yes” in 2010.  It would be interesting to know how many query letters never made it to asking for the full.

I don’t post these statistics to discourage you from trying.  I always think it is good to know the facts, so you can understand why it is important to work on your craft.  Were you surprised by the statistics?



  1. This is indeed depressing for a new author trying to break into the business. I can see why the self-publishing business is growing so strongly. However, it does motivate me to keep working on my MS to be the best I can make it.


    • Rebecca,

      It does seem depressing and after thinking about it, I addressed that issue in todays post. Let me know what you think.




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