Here are some interesting, if not exactly uplifting, statistics from agent Suzie Townsend regarding # of queries vs. # of offers she made.
Basically, of 5.530 writers who queried her within ten and a half months (a staggering number in itself, IMO, seeing as it's approximately 18 queries per day), she offered representation to sixteen. Which is probably quite a lot for a single agent, but put into more numbers means she was willing to take on 0.2% of all people who queried her.
Why on Earth do I believe that my novel is even close to good enough to get into those 0.2%?!
After an initial panic attack, accompanied with loss of all hope and the five-minute consumption of two bars of milk chocolate, I realized there are several not-to-be-overlooked factors that gave me back hope.
First of all, just because one agent doesn't like your material, doesn't mean another won't. There are a lot of agents out there, and if I've given it my all, and my book is supposed to make it into the published world, I will find the right agent for it sooner or later.
Secondly, I define when I've given it my all. I can call it quits if I don't snag an agent after the tenth revision. Or the twentieth. Or the fiftieth. It's up to me when I bury my pulishing hopes for my book. Of course, making it the best it can be for the first round of querying is the best thing to do. But sometimes a little time and distance, or an agent who read a partial or even the full ms but then said "sorry, not for me" can add a new perspective, make me see ways to improve again. And again. Until I know for myself that this story is never going to be found on a shelf in a bookstore with a legitimate publisher's brand on the cover, I can keep going.
(On a side-note: I don't mean to say I'd send my fiftieth revision to the same agent I've sent it to the other 49 times! That's why I send out queries a few at a time. Staggering the queries is the key, so that when you get good feedback or the inspiration faery hits you over the head with her idea-stick, you still have enough agents to send your new version to up your sleeve.)
Thirdly, if not this book, then maybe my next one will make it. Since I mostly write for the enjoyment of writing, creating worlds, developing characters, there's always going to be a next book for me. Even if it's only a new one every two years, even if I currently only have one to shop around.
There will always be a next book. And my writing will improve with every one. So chances are good that one of my stories will wow an agent and/or an editor one day.
Still, it's a good thing there aren't any exact numbers to be had on that chance. For now, I'm content with doing what I enjoy most.