Do you ever feel this way about querying? I know it’s happened to me. My final draft was given the go-ahead from betas. I was so excited to share the premise and my characters with agents and when those first few queries went out, I crossed my fingers and hoped for the best.
And then nothing happened.
I tweaked my query. Went over my first chapter with a fine toothed comb.
I queried some more.
REQUESTS! Yay! This was really going to happen! In two weeks time I just might have myself an agent! After all, that’s how it happened for... (insert the hundreds of published authors who found their agent right away).
But then the requested material came back with an ‘I’m sorry, but...’
Months went by and the cycle got old. And then I felt like ‘well, if it didn’t happen for this book in the first six months of querying agents- it isn’t gonna happen.’ I gave up and moved on to a new project.
But should I have given up on the project if it wasn’t taken on by an agent in the first six months? If one out of ten agents requested the material and eight out of eight didn’t want to commit for whatever reason, is it over? Is my book really not worthy of being read or did I just not find the one agent who likes it as much as my betas did? How do I know that if I don’t just keep going and querying, it might get into the right hands?
I think this is a dilemma a lot of writers today face. On one hand- if it doesn’t happen fast, it doesn’t happen because we give up!
On the other, some published authors query their books for YEARS, hitting up hundreds of agents before finally finding ‘the one’.
And on a more depressing note- some query for YEARS, hit up hundreds only to never be taken on at all. (kill me now)
How do you feel? If you believe your book should be out there but it’s just not happening, do you move on? Or do you continue to query come hell or high water? Do you think if it doesn’t happen fast, it’s not gonna happen at all?
I keep on querying because the book can't ever get accepted if you just quit on it. (Plus those pesky characters, don't like it when you quit. They invade your dreams. Trust me!)Also some of the "I sorry.." letters might come with ideas on how to make the story better so that the next person might accept it. ;)
My first query got to the final stage with one agent before it got rejected. I hated giving up on the idea and moving on. I could only do it by switching to MG. :(
I am all for letting things take their course! I just self-pubbed (and am LOVING it!!), but that was after 2 years, 100 queries, 3 critiques, 3 betas, and a few conferences that kept saying, "Well, your genre is on the upswing, but..." I would love an agent; but since none offered, I gave myself a timeline (that I stretched out, like, three times!) of where I would feel comfortable taking the plunge and self-pubbing. So even that was a long process!
One could go nuts thinking about this. LOL. I query for a few months and then stop because i love to write and I can't write productively while querying. So in my instance, the one that didn't get selected gets shelved and I start a new project. I don't think of it as giving it up permanently, but it just probably won't be my debut. =)
That's such a personal choice. Many writers did go on to get published after querying for a year. So I don't think 6 months is that long. Maybe you need to just take a small break and then query agents that seem like a good fit. Depends. If a writer is getting all forms Rs and no requests then it might be time to relook at opening pages or the query. If there are requests then that's a good sign. I say keep going.
This is definitely a great question. I gave up on my last work and have since moved on to another. I plan to query much longer this time.
In my somewhat limited experience, just a little over 51% of agents/agencies queried didn't even bother to reply. (How rude!) And the one's that did reply, only one showed real interest--but still rejected my manuscript because it "didn't grab her." (No clarification on that was offered.) It is, without a doubt, a crapshoot. Blind luck, Kismet, karma, whatever you call it--you have to be in the right place at the right time with the right query to the right agent with the right manuscript with the right stars in alignment...or you get rejection.
It, in a word, sucks.
Couple this with the recent figures showing that Adult paperback sales are down 64% over the last year...you're looking at slim pickings. Agents want "the sure thing," even though that kind of thing just doesn't exist. They want the easy to market title, with very little work needed. It's a marketability bang-for-your-buck sort of thing.
And all that adds up to why self-publishing is up 161% since last year.
Even with all the extra hoops to jump through, and the agents making super sure that the title is worth anything...there's still a lot of junk on the shelves at my local B&N. But, oh, how I want to be some of that junk!
It's hard to say this but.... Only you know when it's time to put it away.
I'm sitting here querying. It's been quiet -- really quiet. 4 rejections and 1 full request. I never know what to say. I could analyze what it all means, but I'd end up driving myself nuts.
I suppose I'll keep pushing. Meg Cabot sent out over 300 before she found the one and look at her now. There are success stories where it happens fast, but maybe being different makes us more humble and appreciative. Yes, it's what I'm telling myself.
I'm querying my 19th novel!
I must be a hack.
But I keep at it. I tell myself I'm building a shelf of assets.
...that I'm in it for the long haul.
On the bright side, Every time I sit down at the keyboard, my writing improves. So eventually one of the brighter gate guards will notice me. Otherwise, I'll self-publish when I get the gumption, and be more successful than if I t-published.
Time to go write.
that is a great attitude to have Mac and one I definitely share. No matter what I'll keep writing. And querying. Thanks for your comment!
I queried my books for 6 months each. The way I sent out my queries assured me that was all the time I allotted for the process. While I queried, I wrote the next book, so after the 6 months was over, I had a fresh query to send. After three years of this and no takers on anything, although quite a few fulls and partials, I decided to throw in the towel. Every answer was "I can't sell this. It's a great book, but I can't sell it."
So I guess it depends what kind of answers you're getting. If big agents can't sell it, then little ones can't either.
Not an easy question, but my answer is to never give up. You have to believe in yourself and your project. That doesn't mean put blinders on.
If you're not getting requests from your query and opening pages, then tweak the letter and pages until you do. If you're getting requests for the partial, but not the full, then perhaps you need a little distance from your novel so you can look at it with fresh eyes and see how it needs to be improved.
It's a process, but I think a lot of writers hurt themselves by rushing it and querying agents in big batches.
It took me a little over a year to get my agent. I queried in small batches of about 5 and kept entering contests for additional feedback. Along the way, I ended up revising the story twice.
You should also keep working on something new while you query one project. That way, when you reach your threshold (whatever it may be) you have something new to query.
Know what you want and don't settle for anything less.
Anne and I get the same replies, "I can't sell this. It's a great book, but I can't sell it."
Is there anything more frustrating?
Katie- I once got a full request in seven months after sending out a query. You never know with this crazy business. Stay sane...and keep at it!
My one full request came within an hour of the agent receiving the e-mail. I have to wonder if there's merit to the whole quickness thing.
She told me it could take up to 60 days for a reply on the full, but naturally, because she responded to my query so quickly, I'm paranoid that the passing of 3 weeks means the answer is no. And I just sent out 8 more queries on Sunday, and so far haven't heard back on a single one.
All I know is, I'm working on project # 2, and if that doesn't pan out, I'll try again with project # 3.
I'm not even at this stage (well am a loooooooooooooong way off!!) so I truly don't know. I guess knowing me - if I do get to the querying stage - I'd go bananas for the first year or so and if not successful, will sort of give up for another year, then start branching out into other writing projects until I get back my mojo and go mad querying again! LOL!!! And so the cycle begins..
Good luck CQG!!! This publishing thingy is definitely not for the faint hearted whatever options you choose to get published!!!
Sometimes it's timing too. A genre that's slow might not be slow in six months or a year. Several years ago, I put a book away. And then came back to it--re-edited it, rewrote the query, and started submitting again. The genre is still slow, but I'm getting some full requests.
I haven't really queried much. Something to do with my novel being in a genre that's overloaded the market at the moment. I think, though, that I would set myself some targets (this many agents, this much time), and figure if I got nowhere with that, then I should move onto the next project.
Good luck with your querying. I think it's pretty amazing that you've had requests for fulls - that seems like an accomplishment to me :).
Wow, this one hits home. I think I have to keep holding out that hope and sending or it definitely won't happen. At least I won't be able to blame my fears for not succeeding. Right?
I wish it would happen fast, but it just doesn't always work that way. Still gotta try.
Hmmm... it's always hard to say! I've heard over and over that if you don't hear back from an agent immediately, s/he's not interested, and it really seems that way a lot of the time. But for my current MS, I got rejections on requested material the quickest, and the ones who wanted to work with me took a little more time. The agent I'm working with right now took about two and a half months to offer an R&R, since he had some of his colleagues read it and was considering possible changes, and the editorial letter came about four weeks after that.
Only you can decide whether or not to shelve a book.
I think a lot of it depends on the response you get from agents. Did they think the manuscript was not marketable? Did they enjoy the writing, but it wasn't for them? Did they think the book sucked (not that I think they would think that, but it's a question you have to ask yourself all the same)? Can you revise the manuscript and perhaps market it differently?
If they liked it but didn't know how to market it, then personally I wouldn't give up on the novel. Just because a handful of people don't know where to place it doesn't mean it doesn't deserve a place on the shelves. We're living in the Wild West of Publishing right now. The possibilities are endless.
In the end, it all comes back to you, though. Do you believe in the novel? If you do, then you shouldn't give up.
This is like the story of my life right now. Thanks for posting this! I think I'm up to 12 Rs, 1 full request (which was R). I keep telling myself its a slow, steady process.
I think the worst is that when friends/family ask me how it is it going, and I tell them, their immediate reaction is to ask me if I should self publish. It makes me want to scream.
Querying is a long, drawn-out process that is not for the thin-skinned. There's no timeline either. Just go for it!
My writing professor in college told me when she first started out, she was gonna wallpaper her bathroom with rejection letters. I shamelessly copied her mentality.
BTW? "Creepy Query Girl?" GENIUS blog name.
lol- thanks Nicki! I think I have enough rejections to at least cover the far wall:)
I think the answer to that is as varied as the reasons why agents pass on novels!
I think it's always a good idea to allow a work that we think is 'ready' to sit for a while--for months, even--then come back to it after we've immersed ourself in another project. Often that will give us some objectivity as to whether the rejections have something to do with the ms, or genre, or marketing, or just not hitting the right agent at the right time. (sure would be nice if agents gave us specific feedback!)
I also think it's smart to look at all your options. These days, the Big 6 are harder to snag--and consequently, so are the agents. Traditional publishing has several faces, including smaller presses--no agent needed!
...and I will wager that I have far more rejections than you, lol (not that I'm proud of it!) Just keep writing--when you do land that agent or publisher, it's always good to have more novels ready to follow up!
Great questions. I think the answer changes with everyone. It's a decision you have to make. I'd say never give up.
I do believe I'll be published.I've still queried but honestly, I also continued to focus on other projects. I'm not going to stop writing just because one doesn't get picked up. Plus, the more I write the better my skills are.
I do believe that some finished MS aren't ready for the existing market--not that the story is bad, you understand, but perhaps the premise, or genre, while intriguing aren't ready for *prime time*.
I figure it this way. If a ms is requested there's something there. Perhaps they couldn't see a way to sell it easily or they brought it to the company buying powers and it was shot down in favor of another project. It doesn't mean yours was bad--just not what they wanted right then. 0r it wasn't one of the top 5 or 6 projects chosen to develop at that given time.
Take confidence in the requests. Continue working on other projects. Still choose a time slot to query it.
One thing for sure, if you give up, guaranteed you won't be published. As a published friend of mine said:
"The truth is, the number of rejections you receive doesn't matter. You are not defeated until you let yourself be defeated."
Sia McKye's Thoughts...OVER COFFEE
I saw the comment and response on keeping writing and querying, I think that is the way to go.
I love your profile photo!
It depends on how much you want it out there, and if you really feel like it is worth it. For me I think I would try for about a year and see where it goes. But that's just me personal preference :)
Awesome questions! I think giving up is a relative term. If you are struggling to decide whether or not querying is right for you anymore, I say, "what do you have to lose?" Keep it up until your options dry up.
As for it not happening right away, this is also relative. Say the first agent you query requests a partial, then it takes her three months to read it and request a full. Fast forward another three months and she gets back to you with an offer or representation. It didn't happen in weeks, but it did happen. That's good enough for me.
Could be many reasons why this happens, but mostly it's down to marketing. I take it you're sending the first 3 chapters and a synopsis to agents? If so, they like your writing and want to see a full MS, but then don't feel confident in placing it.
My debut, "Covenant", started as a screenplay in 1999, was re-written as a novel in 2005, re-drafted twice in 2007 and 2009, and finally got an agent and sale in 2010. Ten years of work. But I kept writing other stuff at the same time, to keep improving my writing.
Try to figure out what's holding the agents back. Get people to read it for you, get feedback, take criticism and act on it. It might take only a small redraft to turn a maybe in to a definite...
At least you're brave enough to TRY. I've been sitting on my novel for a couple of years, and I've never even tried WRITING a query, much less actually sending them to anyone. I know, pathetic, right? Sigh...
I'll get there eventually. Really.
I was querying my superlong Russian novel and the first of my Atlantic City books (the exact opposite in terms of length) for a short time about ten years ago and gave up too quickly. I'm kinda glad I waited so long, since I didn't know much about querying back then, and now it's also much easier to research agents online.
I also realized, after I pulled my Russian novel off the obsolete MacWriteII and ClarisWorks files, that the original sections of the first seven chapters needed a lot of work. I did a lot of editing, revising, polishing, and rewriting, particularly of the first seven chapters, and now feel it's a much stronger book.
I was querying another superlong book of mine in the spring, and had two full requests out of 25+ queries I sent, both of which were rejected. I now realize I made a big mistake as pitching it as YA. In spite of how most of the characters are young, I now agree with what someone on another forum said, that it sounds a lot more like women's fiction since it's about growth and development instead of action and conflict driving the story. I also made a mistake pretending Parts I and II were book one of a trilogy, just to kowtow to modern-day prejudices against long books. I quickly realized I was selling out, and that it only makes sense and flows well as one long, continuous book.
Now I'm not going to give up until I find an agent, or, if I can't find an agent within a decent time, go the small press or ebook route.
I've resolved myself to querying every agent I can find that represents my genre, then I'll move onto publishers. If it still doesn't happen, then I'll self-publish. If I believe in it enough to seek representation, then it deserves to be given a chance in the marketplace one way or another. :)
I had to stop querying, because the more I re-edited my novel, the more I killed it. The writing became more and more polished, but I stopped believing in the story. I kept thinking of major plot rehauls that could make it unique, beautiful, better. So I stopped, now it's waiting for my current WIP to be ready to query so I can go back to it. :)
I think if you're getting requests, it's just a matter of finding the right agent. I would keep querying but keep writing in the meantime.
This is where I am right now. Two full requests and two full rejections, the only consistent feedback being, "afraid this isn't right for me."
I don't know. I'm trying not to think about it. Do I have to think about it, really?
It's such a hard call. I've been accused of moving on too fast, actually. Can you write your next project while querying? That would be one solution, maybe.
I was going to say "never give up," but in some ways it's not that simple.
I mean if you just keep querying forever and ever the chances that you land an agent who is actually a hack and a crook get much higher.
I'm not sure I have the answer, because my one foray into the land of the query was a miserable failure. I guess I would suggest querying the agents on the bottom of your list first. That way you can get to your dream agents last, and maybe that will be a clear sign whether or not to move on.
Um...yes. I feel like this all the time. Not sure what to do by keep on keep'n on. Great post. Blogging is the perfect forum for venting. Thx.
I definitely have already found myself falling into this mindset, even though I REALLY REALLY SHOULDN'T BE because to date I've sent out less than 20 queries, which is nothing. And I know that.
But still, it's times like these when the internet is the enemy. You read stories of Agent X saying, "I requested a full and read it in 24 hours and immediately contacted the author because I knew it couldn't wait!" And there you are thinking, "That same agent has had my full for a few weeks now. Does that mean they're just not that into it?" *SAD*
And really, that's not fair. To either me or the agent. BUT IT'S STILL HARD.
Most agents will agree that the chances of an MS being rejected are greater than being accepted. But step back from the math and think of the work.
Do YOU believe in your work?
If not, then giving up may be the best thing you can do for yourself. How can you feel good about shouting from the rooftops about a book you have no faith in?
If you do believe it is publishable material, then remember that an agent is i00% human, subject to the same fallacies we're all susceptible to. An agent may reply that a book is not for them because they recognize it as good writing but not something they feel they can sell. There are new and hungry agents coming out that you would miss out on if you give up. And the self-publish option is growing stronger everyday.
So give up, schmive up. Stick with and have fatih in your work...have faith in you :-)
By the way, time is only an indicator of minutes ticking by, not of quality, especially since there are some sucky books out there by agented authors.
I've been querying one of my trilogies for nearly three years now. It's been getting requests, but then rejections. I only recently realized I'm marketing it wrong. I'm fixing it up to try again and hopefully it will be the right way this time.
I've had queries answered within days with requests, and a query answered 6 months later with a request for a full. I've also had same day rejections and partials returned without any comment at all besides the usual thanks but not for me. Somebody once said it's a crap shoot and I think it's true but that doesn't mean I'm giving up. I don't think I could stop writing even if I wanted to.
It's an ugly business no matter how you look at it. I never know what to to and it cause me constant angst.
I'm still querying but I try to think more about my current WIP because querying can make you nuts!
I say go with your instincts.
If you're hating life, depressed at all the rejection and no longer enjoying the writing, than you should stop. If you're still enjoying the writing but getting nothing but rejection - write anyway. It's a nice hobby to have and you enjoy it.
And, of course, the self-publishing option is always there.
I think you keep querying and if nothing happens in the time frame YOU feel comfortable with you should think about throwing it up on Amazon or Barnes and Noble. If six months is the timeframe you set for your project that I think six months is right but maybe for some they think a year or like you said years.....if you are passionate about what you have written then persistence may be the key. Good Luck!
Man that's a good question. I know I don't have an answer, but I definitely have my preconceived notions. I'm on the same page as you, if you don't get enough agent interest in 6 months then something is wrong. I don't know that it's a reason to give up, but it's definitely a reason (to me) to re-evaluate your work with a critical eye. Good post!
The thing is, getting an agent doesn't guarantee a sale, something most writers don't like to consider at this stage, but trust me, it happens a lot. My advice is to have a plan A,B, and C that you can live with, and not hang all your hopes and dreams on one hook.
It's a hard truth that the project you are querying may not be the one to launch your career. That's why it's so important that you are always moving forwards and writing something new - and better!
When to give up on a project? Only you can know. But if you are getting nothing but form rejections perhaps this isn't the 'one'.
It's gonna happen when it happens; It's gonna happen when it finds the right agent.
It ain't gonna happen because the market isn't right/there's something else in the works too much like your book/the agent has too many clients to take on another writer with promise but isn't perfect/the writing isn't up to par/the story is too problematic/etc., etc.
Just keep on tweeking and sending out! That is the only way, that's what I tell myself.
I queried for awhile then went to a conference and signed an agent. I think it helped to meet in person. Then parted ways with said agent and signed with another, who shut her doors. Then I said, okay, done. Sent to small presses and took offers. :) Now my books are coming out and I'm happy. That being said, I'm considering the entire process all over again. LOL I NEVER give up and neither should anyone else. It doesn't mean you have to make a traditional choice, either. IMHO
I guess it's a gut thing--you know when you want to keep going, and when you want to stop. But hold out as long as you can! You never know.
Honestly, I do the same... but usually it's because after six months I've started working on something else, and my enthusiasm goes down for the previous book... then I reread it and think "THIS IS CRAP" and that just ruins any motivation to continue querying. :/
I'm in the same boat you are, CQG. It's hard to let a query fly and then wait, and wait, and wait, and nothing, and you're not sure if the e-mail went through the first time, so you're contemplating sending a little check-up e-mail. It's a little maddening.
If you believe in the book, and your beta readers feel it's at a good stage, I don't think it would be right to let it sit where other people can't read and enjoy it. After a while, it might be time to think about finding a good editor, some cool artists, and putting together an e-book for Amazon. It's working more and more for people these days, so it should only grow as a viable alternative to agents and traditional publishers.
Best of luck!
I think it's hard to let a query go, especially after rejection after rejection after rejection. Maybe you need a little break from querying it. Step back from it, wait a few weeks, and then go back to your query letter and start sending it out like mad. Because if I felt like I had written something that truly needed to be out there, I don't know if I could let it go very easily.
Also, I've passed on a few blog awards to you today!
This whole agent is entirely subjective. If an agent is what you want and you know you have a good book, keep at it. Eventually, you'll find one who loves it as much as you.
I move on - for a while - but I keep coming back, because I really do still believe in my project. So I revisit querying in doses.
Oh gawd I'm so there this week. I had to repeatedly remind myself it's too soon to give up, TOO SOON!
1. Keep querying.
2. And while you query, keep revising that work based on the feedback you get.
3. In between revising, keep writing that new project until it's ready to query, too.
4. Apply #1 to the second project, and keep going from there. Don't stop till you find your agent.
You had better NOT be giving up on the book I read a year ago. I loved that one.
I stopped querying my last book because I realized I could make it better. I just needed time and more writing-craft smarts before I could tackle it again.
I think Connie hit the nail on the head - so much is timing, what's in vogue and so on. I knew a gal who sent her ms to an agent but the assistant tossed it on the TBR pile. The agent came in from lunch, bumped the pile, picked up the ms that had fallen and said, "Guess I'll read this." It was the gal's ms. She got a contract.
Thanks for dropping by my blog today and signing up to follow. I'll join yours as well -- along with those 800+ other people!!
Wow, that's tough to think about. Just keep going. That's what all my agented friends say. Just keep on writing. :)
It all gets totally frustrating. I'm not ready to query...yet, but I'm glad to read these types of post that get me thinking about what I would do if this scenario played out for me. Would I give up and move on to a new project? Would I self pub? Would I just keep plugging along? I don't know but now it is in my mind and I definitely hope the best for you and all the other writers out there!!!
I would love to be able to say that I would have continued querying forever if I hadn't gotten an agent, but really, I don't know what I would have done. Querying is painful and soul-sucking and I was honestly pretty miserable the entire time I was doing it. I'm sending you massive good vibes! You have a great attitude!
I joined a writer's group earlier this year, and what I found most refreshing was that the majority of the group had no interest in getting published. Many of them are retired and writing because they enjoy it. There are a few published authors in the group, and one guy who went to school for publishing but now works in a different industry. It made me reflect more on writing as a craft and an enjoyable artistic outlet rather than a goal to achieve publication.
That is more of a side note I know, but sometimes it helps to have perspective. I think the longer you keep writing and the more fun and dedication you have to the craft, you will find success. I'm a glass half full kind of girl!
my first book i queried for 6 months, had 35 requests and 35 rejections. it came down to one word: voice.
my second book i queried for a YEAR. nearly signed with an agent...then nearly signed with another...then decided to go straight to small presses. i've had much better luck that way! (but i'm not making an announcement...yet)
querying sux the big one. I'd usually query a MS for a while til I was convinced it wasn't going to happen, then I'd write a new MS and start all over again. Four completed MSs later, I have an agent---LOL! So I don't know if that answers your question.
But for the one that landed me an agent, I hadn't started querying it yet. Blog contest. Blogging wins! ;p <3
When I finally signed with an agent, I was on the verge of giving up. Said agent (and several others) had had my ms for MONTHS. All the success stories I'd heard were of mailing off the ms and getting "the call" the next day. Or something like that. I was sure an agent who was going to love my work would not take MONTHS. But then-- voila! It happened. It took me completely by surprise. With this book, I was determined to query 100 agents before I quit. I usually use that as a measurement rather than length of time querying.
Yes, it definitely is frustrating. I understand! I have other shelved books to prove it. I think you know in your gut when it's time to stop and move on to the next thing.
Whatever you do, don't give up!
I agree with most of the commenters: Keep going, because some books take a special kind of agenty mind to fall in love. But in the meantime, definitely start a new novel. It makes the process so much less stressful, because your brain is happily occupied with something creative.
I think it's totally worthwhile to keep querying, especially if you feel your project is the best it can be. I regret querying my novel before it was ready. I racked up so many rejections, and then the MS went through some major revisions. The only reason I'm setting my novel aside now is because I've queried almost 100 agents. I say, get to that number and then you can quit! But never stop writing. I totally believe you can do this :)
I haven't quite got to the query part yet, so I'm living vicariously through all of you. I have to admit...I'm terrified.
I think that just because it doesn't happen fast, doesn't mean it won't happen.
Yet, at some point...you've gotta keep writing, even if that means new material.
Thanks for this!
Hang in there and don't give up!!!
Kathryn Stockett's book 'The Help' was turned down 60 times ... then ...
It does get hard though. We are only human.
It certainly sounds harder than ever to get a novel accepted, but is this not why so many people are following the ebook option first.
Don't give up! At least you are querying and writing. I am barely doing either one.
I have awarded you with the versatile blog award, come to www.christylasheasmith.com and check out Sunday 9/25 post to claim your prize!
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