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AGragon
03-07-2012, 03:50 PM
Hey.

I'm not going to write the full story of my life and how I started writing here in this thread, this is just a quick question I'd appreciate if you answered, and I'll go straight to the point as to not bore you.

I've received around 15 rejections for my young adults novel, some of them aren't even "physical" because of the famous no-answer-means-no policy a few agencies use.

The question here is... should I give up already? Should I just move on to another project and consider the end of this one? (I haven't started writing a second novel yet, although I did write 2 sequels for the first book of the series I queried, out of fun and enjoyment of course.) Or should I keep going, sitting and awaiting for that rare legendary knight of salvation (one agent out of 20, miracles.)

I'm aware that rejections are really common and one as a writer who wants to be published MUST be ready for them. However I believe we all have got our limits, and pushing this further might be counterproductive, for me and for everyone.

So, what do you think?

Thanks in advance for the answers, and feel free to show your opinion based on personal experience or random thoughts of the moment.

Andrew.

EDIT: It's also worth adding that I haven't got asked for partials whatsoever, just plain rejections.

alleycat
03-07-2012, 03:58 PM
Before moving on, you might want to get at least an idea of why your novel is being rejected. Is it the writing? Is it the storyline? Some other reason?

You might consider finding a competent beta to read the novel and give you an honest opinion.

AGragon
03-07-2012, 04:01 PM
Before moving on, you might want to get at least an idea of why your novel is being rejected. Is it the writing? Is it the storyline? Some other reason?

You might consider finding a competent beta to read the novel and give you an honest opinion.

I've had friends and mates read my novel fully, all of them around the target audience for it.
They all pointed out a few minor things each, normal of every reader. But overall they said it was "hooking" and "a book that you would devour."

I even went as far as to ask some of the agents if my query letter was wrong or had some really bad flaws in it. Not to my surprise, my questions got ignored.

alleycat
03-07-2012, 04:14 PM
I don't know in your case, of course, but sometimes friends aren't the best beta readers unless they are somewhat knowledgeable and can put themselves in the place of an agent/slush pile reader.

Just an example: your friends may not be aware of how important the first few pages are (they may be judging the story as a whole).

It's tough to get something accepted. Sometimes it can be one little thing that's off.

Parametric
03-07-2012, 04:22 PM
If your friends are experienced critiquers, know exactly what makes for publishable fiction in the current market, and can be trusted to give an honest opinion even though they're friends, then you can rely on their judgement. Otherwise, it's time to find some beta readers.

Pyekett
03-07-2012, 04:24 PM
You don't want to rely on friends and mates.

[Added: from this guy's perspective. Reading above, looks like other people may have better friends than I, or maybe it's my appearance of delicate porcelain refinement. Heh.]

Truly, you don't. The thing is, these are people who have to live with you, at least metaphorically. They don't want to hurt you. You need people who are willing to hurt you, not for the sake of pain but for the sake of making the work better and thus you better as a writer. You need other writers, and you need ones that aren't going to tread gently.

You know what you need? Absolute Write. It's the refiner's fire.

Get to posting, reach the 50 post mark, and put your query and/or text snippet up in the Show Your Work section. Take a deep breath, wince in advance, and take it on the chin. This is how you do it:

---
1. Polish as best you can. No "I just thought I'd toss this up, wrote it last night" weaselling. Post it. Make it the best you got. Own it.

2. Excuse the frankness, but you'll want to pre-shit your pants as you obsessively reload the page. Get it over with and get into fresh clothes. There will be time, and you'll be glad for it.

3. Read everything, at least eventually. Don't respond in detail for at least 24 hours. Say thank you and give rep points to everyone who responds, even if you want to murder them for trying to eviscerate your soul. That guy you fantasize about inflicting with a thousand fleas? He gets a rep point and a PM thank you. Trust me.

4. Thank everyone publicly, nurse your wounds privately with your favorite balm of choice, and revise.

5. If nobody hurt your feelings even the slightest, take another deep breath and post: "No, seriously, I need a real critique." Go back to step 2 and start over.
---

It will be okay. You will learn something. And then you will spend a lot of time critiquing other people's work in SYW, and you will learn even more. Have at it, Writer. :)

AGragon
03-07-2012, 04:47 PM
@Pyekett
Thanks for your detailed reply to my thread.
I forgot to mention I did ask a fellow writer/nonprofessional critic and he offered a few suggestions which most of them I then implemented - some I didn't agree with/didn't feel like it'd make the book better though.

Pyekett
03-07-2012, 04:53 PM
You are most welcome.

I shouldn't speak so broadly, and I edited above. But my personal experience is that if I ask a friend (even a professional friend) for review, I don't get as much frankness as I need. The trick is to get a lot of frankness from a wide swath of people. When something keeps consistently cropping up, you have to figure out how to deal with it. The smaller bits are less important than finding the recurring themes from your critiquers.

You only get that perspective from asking a group of relative but experienced strangers who are nonetheless willing to concentrate time and energy on you. That's a situation almost impossible to set up, but it's why Absolute Write is here (among a few other goals).

I trust you will make the right choices for yourself. If it includes the SYW section here, I'll chime in if I see it. Regardless, best of luck.

Sophia
03-07-2012, 04:56 PM
As the rejections are based on your query and not a sample of your writing, you might like to just double-check that your query is doing the best job it can by running it through our Query Letter Hell SYW (http://www.absolutewrite.com/forums/forumdisplay.php?f=174)(password is vista). Don't give up - 15 rejections feels like a lot, but it's a very small number compared to how many potential right-agents-for-you are out there. Once you've checked the query, send it out, and if a rejection comes back, send the query out to the next name on the list. Try not to think about it - this part of it, the business side, requires patience and steadfastness. You can definitely do this!

Edited to add: You need 50 posts before you can start a thread in SYW, but you'll get there. Take a look at the other queries posted, see if you can help the posters, and get to know the community here. And welcome to AW. :)

AGragon
03-07-2012, 05:09 PM
I've been lurking AW for a year now, without posting. Created my account on 2011, but thanks for the warm welcome anyway :)

I'll definitely consider the "Query Letter Hell."

How can you be so sure the rejections are based on my query?

Mr Flibble
03-07-2012, 05:14 PM
Because the query is all the agent has to go on (unless you're sending sample pages too).

It's also a right whatsit to get right. This is often my problem: You know your story (so the query makes sense to you), but you are pitching to someone who doesn't

So you have to be clear. And make it sound exciting. And different to the other 50 odd queries the agent has read that day. And....

If the query was good to go, you'd probably be seeing partial requests. The query is where a lot of writers stumble tbh. Me included.

AGragon
03-07-2012, 05:18 PM
Because the query is all the agent has to go on (unless you're sending sample pages too).

It's also a right whatsit to get right. This is often my problem: You know your story (so the query makes sense to you), but you are pitching to someone who doesn't

So you have to be clear. And make it sound exciting. And different to the other 50 odd queries the agent has read that day. And....

I was enclosing the first chapter on average with each query. That varies with the submission guidelines of each agent.

Parametric
03-07-2012, 05:19 PM
Something else to double-check is that you have a clear genre and your wordcount falls within normal parameters for that genre, ie. you don't have a 5,000-word thriller or a 500,000-word children's book. Really long or really short books can be rejected based on the wordcount alone.

AGragon
03-07-2012, 05:22 PM
Something else to double-check is that you have a clear genre and your wordcount falls within normal parameters for that genre, ie. you don't have a 5,000-word thriller or a 500,000-word children's book. Really long or really short books can be rejected based on the wordcount alone.

115,000 words defined YA. And trust me, it's very defined :)

Maybe it's a bit too long?

brainstorm77
03-07-2012, 05:25 PM
Try betas who are not friends. Also, like others have said, 15 rejections isn't a lot.

Mr Flibble
03-07-2012, 05:26 PM
I was enclosing the first chapter on average with each query. That varies with the submission guidelines of each agent.


Okay

In that case*, it's either your query, your sample pages, or both that are hanging you up (or possibly your premise - if you're pitching a premise that is already market-saturated for example. Or possibly you've got a masterpiece but just haven't found the right agent yet - hard to say without looking at your query/pages!).

Share your work is for more than just queries though. You could pop up say the first 1000 words in the genre appropriate forum.

Another pair of eyes almost always helps.



*Not counting: Agent just signed a similar book, agent is having bad day, agent is scared of spiders and your book is about spiders..ie things you can't control.

AGragon
03-07-2012, 05:31 PM
"if you're pitching a premise that is already market-saturated for example."
"already market-saturated"
"market-saturated"
"saturated"

Oh boy... I think I've found the problem. I've thought about it, but maybe it's me the one that doesn't want to believe it.

Mr Flibble
03-07-2012, 05:33 PM
That doesn't mean it's impossible to get repped on this book.

It does mean you'll have to work to stand out.

Parametric
03-07-2012, 05:33 PM
115,000 words defined YA. And trust me, it's very defined :)

Maybe it's a bit too long?

Oof. That's a hefty size for a YA novel. A huge wordcount is a killer, and if the first pages aren't as tightly written as they could be, that could easily be the source of your problem.

AGragon
03-07-2012, 05:40 PM
Oof. That's a hefty size for a YA novel. A huge wordcount is a killer, and if the first pages aren't as tightly written as they could be, that could easily be the source of your problem.

Thought about this... But cutting a book in half (not literally because ~55k would be short too) once it's already finished is a really hard task if not impossible to accomplish. I mean, it's not hard at all, but that'd mean having to pretty much rewrite it, and judging by how things are at the moment, here's when the "is it really worth it?" question comes to mind.

Mr Flibble
03-07-2012, 05:42 PM
My first book was originally 225k. Yes, yes, I know now. I trimmed that sucker down to 110k. Then I sold it. It was a way better book too.

Calla Lily
03-07-2012, 05:46 PM
Welcome, AGragon.

Actually, 55K isn't short for YA. 110K is a high wordcount for YA, although it's more or less in the upper range for grownup fantasy.

I'll add my vote to those of the other experienced peeps: Head to SYW, read and crit other queries and first chapters, and when you get your post count up to 50 post your own query.

ETA: When I finished my first book in 2005, I was sure it was ready for the world. Then I sent it to a couple of contests and saw how unready it really was. Fortunately, that's when I found AW.

Parametric
03-07-2012, 05:48 PM
Thought about this... But cutting a book in half (not literally because ~55k would be short too) once it's already finished is a really hard task if not impossible to accomplish. I mean, it's not hard at all, but that'd mean having to pretty much rewrite it, and judging by how things are at the moment, here's when the "is it really worth it?" question comes to mind.

How many times have you rewritten it already? One more time wouldn't be that big a deal, right? It's not so hard to cut out excess wordcount when you know how. I'm rewriting a 220,000-word novel right now and I'll be amazed if the rewrite hits 80k, so I know whereof I speak. :tongue If my suspicions are right, nobody is looking past the wordcount and the first page at the moment, so you have no idea how successful the novel might be if revised and requeried. (There's also a chance that nobody will want it then either, but sadly that's a risk we run.)

Ditching the novel and writing a new one is also a legitimate option, but you don't have to do that unless you actively want to.

AGragon
03-07-2012, 05:56 PM
How many times have you rewritten it already? One more time wouldn't be that big a deal, right? It's not so hard to cut out excess wordcount when you know how. I'm rewriting a 220,000-word novel right now and I'll be amazed if the rewrite hits 80k, so I know whereof I speak. :tongue If my suspicions are right, nobody is looking past the wordcount and the first page at the moment, so you have no idea how successful the novel might be if revised and requeried. (There's also a chance that nobody will want it then either, but sadly that's a risk we run.)

Ditching the novel and writing a new one is also a legitimate option, but you don't have to do that unless you actively want to.

I love my characters, and I know most writers do unless it's all about the money. But in all honesty, I don't know where I should start rewriting.

Originally, this YA was 125k. Trimmed it down to 120 first time, then again to 114/115k. I don't think I could take anything out anymore without missing important plot details or giving the impression everything seems rushed.

"if you're pitching a premise that is already market-saturated for example."
That really got to me, maybe I didn't give the best of me for this. Maybe I wasn't original enough.

Calla Lily
03-07-2012, 06:13 PM
A friendly warning. This:

I love my characters, and I know most writers do unless it's all about the money.


Is a fallacy. It's the kind of remark some writers make who think that if a book is successful, then the author has "sold out." You know, "true art" is above all those mundane things like paying the bills or writing what people enjoy reading. The next descriptor is often "hacks."

It's the kind of remark that makes me stabby.

Just letting you know. :)



As for the rest of your post above, you may not be the best judge of whether your book is what the market wants. Again, I advise you to check out SYW.

AGragon
03-07-2012, 06:26 PM
A friendly warning. This:



Is a fallacy. It's the kind of remark some writers make who think that if a book is successful, then the author has "sold out." You know, "true art" is above all those mundane things like paying the bills or writing what people enjoy reading. The next descriptor is often "hacks."

It's the kind of remark that makes me stabby.

Just letting you know. :)



As for the rest of your post above, you may not be the best judge of whether your book is what the market wants. Again, I advise you to check out SYW.
I think you misunderstood me.
I'm not saying that best-seller authors or successful ones "sold out." I'm just pointing out that some authors DO write for the money and couldn't care less about being rejected on one project to just start a new one.

It's really hard for me to ditch this novel not because of the effort I've put into it, or because I think it's been a waste of time (I've learnt many things out of this anyway) but it's more about the characters themselves. I just care about them.

Calla Lily
03-07-2012, 06:28 PM
But would you care about your characters less if you (for example) tightened the word count, cut/combined scenes, upped the action or the stakes?

AGragon
03-07-2012, 06:37 PM
But would you care about your characters less if you (for example) tightened the word count, cut/combined scenes, upped the action or the stakes?

No, and in fact if I do it, I'd do it for "them." (Hell, you'll think I'm crazy talking about my characters like that.) Because I wouldn't want them to die on a shelf or my hard drive.

But then again I ask to myself, is it really worth it? Should I actually let "them" rest and move on to another more original project?

It's hard to judge a whole book by its first 10 pages, and I'm 95% sure it got rejected because of the "market-saturated" part of it. But rewriting that would be rewriting the whole plot. Might as well write a new novel from scratch for that matter.

Thanks for your replies callalily61, I may have sounded offensive, but rest assured I'm not :)

Calla Lily
03-07-2012, 06:39 PM
We're good. :)

I strongly advise you to postpone trunking it till you get some objective opinions in SYW.

Mr Flibble
03-07-2012, 06:39 PM
But would you care about your characters less if you (for example) tightened the word count, cut/combined scenes, upped the action or the stakes?


This.

If you care about the characters, you'll want to do them justice in a really great book. Right?

A few ways that I found to help trim your word count (and that came in handy in subsequent books)


Start scenes later and end them earlier. It sounds odd perhaps...but it will really tighten your writing. Do you really need that opening para or are you just clearing your throat before the scene begins? Do you need that last para of people saying goodbye, when it would end with a zing if you cut it after the last bit of dialogue?

Cut or combine scenes taht only serve one purpose. Just showing your MC traveling? Move whatever plot development to another scene if you can, and combine the purposes of a scene - maybe you have a scene that develops setting, and one that develops plot. Make the words do double duty and combine the scenes so you're developing setting AND plot, or plot AND character.

That goes for paras too - do you need this para? Can you make it do more than one thing (so that you can cut another para)?

Do you have maybe minor secondary characters that could be combined? (You can always save them for future projects - Skrymir was cut from my first book, changed a fair bit for my forth and sixth, turned out to be a bit of a favourite among my readers and may yet get a book of his own)


Now, you still might not sell this book. But I found this was invaluable in helping me see what a book needs, and what it doesn't. It really helped in future books. It will help you learn, if you let it. So it won't be wasted.

AGragon
03-07-2012, 06:45 PM
Thank you, IdiotsRUs, that sounds like helpful advice :)

stormie
03-07-2012, 06:51 PM
Just a thought:

Out of 15 agents queried, you probably should have received at least one request for a partial, if your query is good and the premise of the novel hooks the agent.

So as others here have said, get to 50 posts then put your query on the SYW forums.

MrsBrommers
03-07-2012, 07:55 PM
As others have said, that word count is pretty long for YA. IdiotsRUs has some great tips for tightening up the work. When revising, keep the parts of the book that advance the plot in some way. If it doesn't, trim it. If you are borderline on whether to cut or keep, highlight it and put it in a comment that it's something you could cut when push comes to shove. Don't just focus on polishing the first chapter either. Revise the whole book because what happens if you get a partial request that becomes a full and you say, "Oh, can I do some revisions first?" How long has it been since you put the book away for a bit and come back to it later with fresh eyes? Giving yourself some detachment will help in revisions.

Also, get your query letter vetted. Not just by anyone, but by writers who have written successful query letters. I haven't gotten enough posts yet, but I hear the Query Letter Hell forum is good for this.

Good luck!

Quickbread
03-07-2012, 08:12 PM
115K sounds overly long for YA. If the story itself is tight, and there are no unneeded scenes, then it's possible the language is wordier than needed. Be sure every scene is building on the one before and building the overarching story, versus going on tangents, and that will tell you if they're all essential.

Unnecessary words, like adverbs, lengthy dialogue tags and helper verbs like "was", "was going to", "started to", etc. etc. can take up a shocking amount of space across a whole novel. In many places where you have infinitive verb constructions, you can probably swap it out with one harder-working verb. Try this on the first five pages of your manuscript, and if you are able to excise a lot of words, that's a good indicator the whole manuscript is too wordy. The good news is, that's a really easy round of edits to make, and kind of a fun one because the whole work gets stronger as a result of becoming leaner.

Toothpaste
03-07-2012, 11:10 PM
I am an overwriter. If you read my posts here at AW you might see that this is true. And so when I subbed my first book and an agent was interested, she would only offer rep after I cut 10 000 words.

I only actually cut one chapter. I later re-wrote a sequence in the book, but that had nothing to do with word count. I managed to cut 10 000 words out of my book without getting rid of any characters, or scenes (aside from that one chapter, and that truly was an extraneous chapter, I didn't mind in the end). I simply read my paragraphs and realised that I simply didn't need that many words to describe what I was describing. My dialogue that I thought was oh so witty, actually just went on a bit too long.

And after I'd cut everything, well you'd be hard pressed to pinpoint what I'd cut, because the voice, the quality of the writing everything was exactly the same.

The one big difference? The book was SO much better. It was tighter, it didn't have extra padding. It read, and this is going to sound weird, like a real book.

I bet you could cut at least ten words per page. You could definitely cut more than that. But let's look at ten words per page. If your book is say 300 pages . . . that's 3000 words. Already. A huge dent.


Also, I agree with the others that aside from the wordcount and possibly saturated market for your work (which market is it btw?), it just might be the query. Even if you enclosed a chapter 1, that doesn't mean that any agent actually read it. If the query isn't strong enough, doesn't capture an agent's interest, then they won't move onto the pages. Fixing a query is tough, but it isn't impossible. And it's worth it.

So to answer your question, no, no you shouldn't give up on this work just yet. If anything you should take advantage of this situation and use it to learn and improve your craft. So many people move on so quickly when things aren't going 100% the way they want them to, they never get the chance to really work at something and grow. It's worth taking the time with this simply to grow as a writer. Even if in the end this isn't the book you end up selling.

AGragon
03-08-2012, 12:01 AM
@Toothpaste
Thank you :) Definitely going to consider your advice.

AGragon
03-08-2012, 07:49 PM
This is shameful. Today after lunch I started working on the "chopping" of the book, but I noticed I'm lacking the will to do it.

After I've got to page 4 (having taken out ~700 words already), I had to stop because I didn't feel strong enough to keep going. Kind of like I was invaded by a surge of pessimistic thoughts.

Oh well, that was it. I might continue later.

Calla Lily
03-08-2012, 07:52 PM
Happens to all of us. Perhaps save it for the weekend, with fresh coffee and the whole day ahead of you.

Mr Flibble
03-08-2012, 07:53 PM
/cheerleader dance

You can do it. It's hard, but it will teach you so very much. Then you can :partyguy:

AGragon
03-08-2012, 07:59 PM
@callalily61
@IdiotsRUs

Thank you very much for the encouraging words :)