Rejection, rejection, rejection...

Recently, several writers asked me for some tricks or miracle ways that would help them find a literary agent and to publish their first novels. Each one of them already received upwards of 100 rejections to query letters.

There's good news and there's bad news.

The good: you've received only 100 rejections.

The bad: expect more.

Sadly, that is the reality of the post 1990s publishing market consolidation: a handful of key people where there was plenty.

Folks, you do not need an agent to get published (my example proves it), but it is becoming a Catch 22: more and more publishers will not accept anything from writers directly - submissions and queries must come from known literary agencies.

Trouble is... agents consider writers their worst enemy. Why? Because majority of writers do not make enough money to make the effort of selling their works worth while. What an agent wants is a Tom Clancy, someone who manufactures mega sellers so they can sit back and cash in cheques for nothing.

Imagine this scenario: an employer calls you and offers you a job - basically to cash in a cheque. What do you do?

Now look at it this way: you (the employer) offer a literary agent to sell your book and receive a cut from sale. What is an agent's reply? Some will send a bitchy reply to never-ever bother them again. Many will blacklist your IP / email address. Majority will ignore you (it makes no difference whether you query by email or snail mail, except that you will save money by emailing because despite assurances that all mail is responded to if an SASE is included - it is simply not so.)

Folks, there is no miracle way. Query, query, query... When an agent does not reply or when you receive a rejection without any explanation (95% of rejections) and you can't figure out why :

  1. re-send you query again after some weeks

  2. try another person from the same company

  3. change your subject line

  4. re-write your query / synopsis - concentrate on different aspects of your novel (make it sound more gory, or sexy, or political, or controversial, or change the genre it falls under...)

Finally, if you are only considering sending out your first query letters let me give you this advice: expect to receive rejections. Trust me, it will be that much easier to bear when you know they will be coming. They will be coming.

Start emailing literary agencies or publishers

1 comment:

  1. Hi:

    Everything you say is the gospel truth. I've been writing for forty years and have produced over twenty five novels in the last ten years. Some of them were started back in the sixties.
    I queried over two hundred agencies and agents. The only ones who answered my queries did so with a form letter. If you're not rich, have a gimmick, or are already a money-making author, forget it. I even used the same formats for query letters suggested by such famous authors as Stephen King, Dean Koontz and others.
    I once sent the first three chapters (slightly modified of course) of Gone With the Wind to an agent only to get a form letter rejection. Try it sometime. They don't even read your manuscripts.
    Wouldn't you think that an author who has been writing for thirty years could produce at least one book that is worth publishing? I write technical books, mysteries, horror, thrillers, suspense, romance (two of my romance stories were published by True Confessions Magazine proving men can writer romance,) westerns, science fiction and anything else I can think of. I have co-authored two best selling computer books and dozens of technical articles. My novel Cicada Summer was published by Treble Heart Books. I got that contract myself without an agent.
    To prove that agents don't read anything unless you're famous, I target two well-known agencies. Most of their agents are women. I followed their guidelines to the letter using expensive paper, followed the best rules for writing a query letter and was professional as I could get.
    Every two weeks I have sent them the best of my novels, mysteries, thrillers, horror, science fiction, romance and even a paranormal erotica mystery. What did I get for my efforts, a form rejection letter that is the same every time. Most of the time as soon as I sent the query, I got the form letter back. Sometimes, I got it the next day or a few days later. I sent them by email as requested and also some by snail mail. It's disgusting that they say they're taking on new clients and tell you what they want and when you go to the expense and trouble of providing that, they send you a rejection. They want you to be professional but they aren't professional at all.
    Even Jake Elwell (Dan Brown's agent) was nice enough to send me an email that wasn't a form letter. So, what do I do, I send them form letters.
    People, all us writers need to get together and form a writer's union. We can establish a review committee that will ensure that all manuscripts that go through our committee is top notch. That way, maybe we can convince publishers to read what we write.
    It is unconceivable that a writer can write for twenty or thirty years and not produce something that will sell.
    Please check out my horror novel, Cicada Summer at http://www.bn.com.
    Dallas Releford Author