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When (if ever) should you throw in the towel?
Angela Martello
Posted: Thursday, March 1, 2012 7:59 PM
Joined: 8/21/2011
Posts: 394


Okay, folks, I think I'm ready to start querying agents again. Based on reviews and posts I've read throughout the Book Country site, as well as reviews from some folks I managed to convince to read all three books, I've done many revisions to my trilogy, both major and minor. I had done an extensive round of querying last year before I knew about this great writers' resource and probably did so a bit prematurely.

That said, though, I'm willing to take the plunge again. But, I'm curious - how many rejections should a person pile up before calling it quits? Or should you just keep querying away?

HJakes
Posted: Thursday, March 1, 2012 11:27 PM
Joined: 3/14/2011
Posts: 46


Everyone has a different threshold. I've seen writers pull their books after five rejections and never query again (so far) and I've seen writers gather a hundred rejections apiece on 5+ books.

Prepare to revise and reinvent. I recommend querying in batches of five or ten, evaluating the responses (or lack of responses) that come in, and being prepared to make changes. If you get 0 hits on 20 queries, revise the query. If you get 0 hits on 10 fulls, look at the opening pages.

If you get 0 offers on 100 queries, maybe rethink the book. Is this the right time for it. Maybe your writing has improved since you wrote it and you can do better with the next story. Maybe your agent is in the next batch of 10.

Follow agent guidelines so you aren't gathering unnecessary rejections. Continue to hone your craft by writing other stories. Keep going until the feedback warrants a new strategy.

Good luck!



Carl E Reed
Posted: Friday, March 2, 2012 12:43 PM
Joined: 4/27/2011
Posts: 608


When do you “throw in the towel”, when you’re as intelligent, talented and disciplined a writer as yourself?! Never! What you do is . . . Excuse me a moment.

[Ducks behind the curtain; low rumble of hasty conversation. Pops back out.]

I don’t think you’ll listen to me on this but you may listen to someone else who has a little bit more experience in refusing to "throw in the towel".

[Out strides a bulldog of a man with twinkling, leonine eyes sporting a plain gray wool suit and silk-brimmed “Anthony Eden” hat, jaunty cigar clenched between his teeth.]

“Never give in—never, never, never, never, in nothing great or small, large or petty, never give in except to convictions of honour and good sense.”



 —     Sir Winston Churchill: speech, 1941, Harrow School


Angela Martello
Posted: Friday, March 2, 2012 4:32 PM
Joined: 8/21/2011
Posts: 394


And yet two examples of why I'll never ever "cancel" my membership for this site!

Strategy advice and words of wisdom from Sir Churchill - who can ask for anything more? Thanks!


Meghan
Posted: Sunday, February 17, 2013 7:34 PM
Joined: 2/15/2013
Posts: 11


Funny, my issue isn't throwing in the towel - it's being scared to grab the towel in the first place.  There is almost too much information about what agents like and dislike.  It's dauting, especially the idea that you can never query the same agent again.  This business has so much etiquette which I appreciate, but it can be exasperating too.  Good luck to you - I always like to hear the stories of others and am trying to set a realistic expectation for myself. 
Angela Martello
Posted: Thursday, March 14, 2013 9:33 PM
Joined: 8/21/2011
Posts: 394


Hi, Meghan - There's TOO much information about what agents like and dislike, and most of it is contradictory. Grab the towel, do some research on which agents to query (that is, those who are the best fit for your work), and follow each agent's instructions with respect to querying. It is exasperating, daunting, frightening. But you have to remember: you gain nothing by not trying.

Good luck!
Brandi Larsen
Posted: Friday, March 15, 2013 6:08 PM
Joined: 6/18/2012
Posts: 229


Angela, how have your submissions been going?

Angela Martello
Posted: Friday, March 15, 2013 7:16 PM
Joined: 8/21/2011
Posts: 394


Hi, Brandi - I haven't done any querying lately. I had plan to get back into it this last summer, but my father died after almost 4 weeks in the hospital and my job changed dramatically due to a re-org (with another MAJOR re-org due in April . . .), and I sort of just lost interest. Couldn't take a pile of rejections on top of everything else.

That said, I dove back into revisions (thanks to some thoughtful reviewers' comments) and hope to re-post on BC soon - then get back into querying this spring.
Carl E Reed
Posted: Saturday, March 16, 2013 1:01 AM
Joined: 4/27/2011
Posts: 608


@Angela: So sorry for your loss. You weathered some hard blows there, family-related and work-wise.

I wish you every success with your revision and re-submission process. Good luck!

Angela Martello
Posted: Saturday, March 16, 2013 11:45 AM
Joined: 8/21/2011
Posts: 394


Thanks, Carl.
MariAdkins
Posted: Monday, March 25, 2013 5:52 PM
It took me 39 tries to get Midnight sold.

Voran
Posted: Thursday, March 28, 2013 1:22 PM
Joined: 4/26/2011
Posts: 57


Anyone have any tips on whether it's better to query by paper or by email these days?  
Angela Martello
Posted: Thursday, March 28, 2013 10:58 PM
Joined: 8/21/2011
Posts: 394


Hi, Voran,

When you find agents you want to query, follow their instructions. Some only want paper queries; some only want e-mails. The paper people may want a few chapters or a synopsis or a synopsis plus a few chapters, etc. The e-mail people may not want attachments, may want attachments, etc. So, to answer your question: whether it's better to query via paper or e-mail is entirely based on the requirements of the agents or publishers you're querying.

Good luck!
MariAdkins
Posted: Wednesday, April 3, 2013 12:15 PM
Make sure you follow their submissions guidelines to the letter. A lot will toss your query jut because you didn't follow their rules.

Voran
Posted: Wednesday, April 24, 2013 3:21 PM
Joined: 4/26/2011
Posts: 57


So I got another rejection today, pretty standard form, except for the phrase "some aspects of your manuscript were intriguing". Anybody know if that's just doublespeak for "your manuscript stinks to high heaven" or do they actually mean what they say?
Carl E Reed
Posted: Thursday, April 25, 2013 11:27 AM
Joined: 4/27/2011
Posts: 608


@Voran: That's an encouraging, but maddening response! 

It would have been much more helpful if they told you exactly what aspects of your manuscript they found "intriguing". (If that were me I'd be muttering to myself, "The paper weight? Font type? Page count? What, for god's sakes?!")

Heh! Thanks for sharing.

PS. I've had manuscripts returned with the first few pages crumpled up (and then de-crumpled, apparently, before being stuffed in the enclosed SASE for return to a bemused Yours Truly. Editor rage? Bewilderment? Stress release?) I've had stories returned with pages missing. (Were those the good parts, I've often wondered--or the worst?) I've been called by the wrong name, called names (not the same thing at all, I assure you!) and had others' mansucripts returned to me. I once had an editor confess that he'd begun to eye his slush pile with the same mixture of uneasiness, contempt and scorn high-hatted "respectable" men of society hold for cheap painted women that lurch out of darkened doorways in search of fast coin for the transacting of rough transitory pleasure.  

Channeling "Wild" Bill Clinton: "I feel your pain!"
Angela Martello
Posted: Thursday, April 25, 2013 2:25 PM
Joined: 8/21/2011
Posts: 394


I once got a rejection letter (via e-mail) that was addressed to someone else and mentioned a manuscript I didn't write.

It's maddening because you don't know what they mean; you don't know what is or isn't part of some stock response; don't know if they even meant to send that response to you; etc, etc, etc., and so forth.

File the letter away; make a log in whatever tool you're using to track who you're querying. Then move on to the next one.

Good luck!


Voran
Posted: Thursday, April 25, 2013 2:25 PM
Joined: 4/26/2011
Posts: 57


Thanks, Carl! Always good to hear such exasperating stories from talented writers on this site. I especially like the de-crumpled manuscript. Wow. Rough transitory pleasure, indeed
Voran
Posted: Thursday, April 25, 2013 2:27 PM
Joined: 4/26/2011
Posts: 57


Thanks, Angela. Will do!
A.R. Price
Posted: Thursday, February 13, 2014 12:53 PM
Joined: 2/12/2014
Posts: 4


The agent query is one of the most trying and disheartening task i have ever endured and that's saying a lot after being able to make it through boot camp and actually finishing my first novel. Ive sent out over 50+ since i finished my first manuscript, all of which (of the ones who actually responded) stated that it was not right for them but may be right for another agent and not to give up.

Seriously the all said the same thing almost word for word it made me feel as if every agent has the same rejection letter on file for quick release. As if there was a single place they could all go to and simply download the file and just punch in the names.

I have not given up and i never will but i wonder if i hurt my chances of getting picked up by an agent or publisher by self-publishing with amazon.com and releasing The Apothecary Murders in print and on kindle through them.


Kerry Schafer
Posted: Saturday, February 22, 2014 9:02 AM
Joined: 2/27/2011
Posts: 25


A.R. - Querying is extremely frustrating and those rejection letters are devastating. As for the number of queries - some highly successful authors sent out  dump truck load of the suckers before they were finally published. Here are my thoughts on that - if you're getting straight, form letter rejections with no requests and no personalization, then there's often a good chance that a) your query letter needs work or b) the book you are marketing doesn't have commercial appeal or c) your work isn't quite there yet.  It hurts to consider this, I know. I've been there. BETWEEN went through several rounds of queries and by the time it was picked up the revisions had been so deep it was a completely different book. That said, I completed two new rough manuscripts between the time I started querying it and the time it was published. I think it's hugely important in this industry to never give up, but also to always be writing the next (and better) book. Maybe the one you're marketing now isn't the one that will be traditionally published, but maybe the next one will.
DCLabs
Posted: Monday, February 24, 2014 5:05 PM
Joined: 10/15/2013
Posts: 78


I'm with you guys.  It's hard to find the confidence to keep sending out queries when all you get is no's in reply.  I got a rejection letter from an agent I queried, by mail, less than 10 days after I sent it!  Sure it was nice to be fast but it felt almost too fast - like they didn't actually look at/consider the work.  I'm not a fool though, I know the size of the slush pile and the simple truth the did and it just wasn't their thing.  Bummer.

 

I'm not a fan of agents who don't reply to email queries they're not interested in.  Lots of agents are making the switch to email but the silence you get from them is deafening.  Getting that no at least brings closure, nothing is just maddening!

 

Waiting on this round of revisions before I send out my next batch of queries.  The list only gets smaller.


Raymond_The_Writer
Posted: Sunday, November 2, 2014 11:15 AM
Joined: 11/1/2014
Posts: 11


If you love writing, be it a novel, short stories or poetry you should never give up.

 

If you are happy writing, it is a part of who you are.

 

Just do what makes you happy.

 

Publishers will take on a unknown author not only because of the huge investment they make promoting your book but also because no one knows you as a writer.

 

Sure the best of the best unknown writers do break through but your manuscript has to be at the top of the stack and be loved.

 

I have been writing since 1983 and I will never give up as a writer.

 

As for agents, What isn't hot on the market one month may be hot the next month.

 

You must wear a turtle shell when dealing with publishers and agents, after all, if you don't have EXACTLYwhat they want, you aren't worth the time. To both agents and publishers, you and I only represent a $ sign to them.

 

I'm not being cynical, just a realist.

 

Let's face it, if a agent or publisher wrote you a letter and basically said; "Hey I love your manuscript but it needs tweaking and polishing and I think you can get signed by a publisher."

 

don't they think you have already polished the manuscript as perfectly as you could?

 

We all know an agent or a publisher has people they sub-contract to "Polish" a manuscript that could make millions.

 

To send the manuscript back to the author and have him try to re-edit or polish what he has written time and again to me is pointless. If they see such promise, such $$$$ to come, they could simply say in a letter;

 

"Hey. We read and really liked your manuscript you recently submitted to us. In its current form though we don't feel we could accept it. However, if you would allow one of our editing people to polish your manuscript and make it even better we would be very happy to negotiate a contract beneficial to both of us.

 

If this is reasonable to you, please feel free to use the enclosed self-addressed stamped envelope and we'll get started on it right away.

 

Sincerely,

 

 

 

Now I doubt if 90% of unknown authors would turn down such an offer.

 

They want their book to be the best possible and it benefits both the author and publisher to have the best edited book for readers to enjoy.

 

The publishers and agents I have dealt with take a different approach though. They are too busy to have a third party edit a manuscript that to them has such potential and wants the author to do the editing and polishing.

 

Speaking for myself, I have had two head injuries and my books are as edited and polished as they can be within my abilities.

 

So I choose to market what I write on Amazon and on my author website.

 

But for many of you here, an agent or publisher may be for you.

 

Stephen King was rejected 75 times before a publisher accepted his first book. That means he received 74 letters either in short form or several pages that basically said; "Thank you for your submission but after careful consideration we don't feel this book is marketable."

 

I don't know about you, but I believe I would have been discouraged as a writer that what I had written was worth the ink it was printed on if 74 publishers or agents told me I wasn't that good of a writer.

 

I wish you all the best of success as writers but for some of us, an agent or publisher isn't the way to go.

 

Raymond


Raymond_The_Writer
Posted: Sunday, November 2, 2014 11:22 AM
Joined: 11/1/2014
Posts: 11


I belong to a writers club in my town, overseen by two women who are published authors.

 

One of the women told us that they had written a San Francisco crime detective novel and their agent told her that Miami crime novels were the big thing now so she painstakingly re-wrote the entire book to fit Miami.

 

Several times it was sent back to her to revise, take out characters, add new characters. After a year of going back and forth, she said her agent toldher the book was excellent just not what the publishers were looking for.

 

She told us she cried and cried and then went out and got drunk.

 

None of us blamed her a bit.

 

I will not Revise my books to ft any agent or publisher and if that means I get no contract, so be it.

 

If THEY wish to POLISH it and then accept it I would be more than happy, but I am not a marionette puppet some agents or publishers can play with for their amusement.

 

Writers are under great pressure to write their best books because they want to be successful.

 

Not all agents or publishers are reputable and remember, they KNOW that as an UNKNOWN author, from day 1 your book will be very hard to market.

 

Just go into the agent/publisher world with both of your eyes wide open.

 

Raymond


 

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