View Full Version : Over 20 requests and still no agent

06-16-2008, 10:40 PM
I have had more than 20 requests for my proposal and more keep coming so I feel confident my book idea is quite good. However, I have gotten enough rejections to question something might not be right. It is really hard for me to understand what I am doing wrong. The feedback in my rejections is not to helpful. I have emailed some agents who wrote very personal rejections and asked if they had any advice or could help me understand what's not working. I know it is not their job to help, but I am just feeling a little stuck. I still have a few recent requests that need to be mailed out, but I fear that my work (even though several agents have said it is a strong proposal) might not be in perfect shape. I feel like if these were easy fixes, someone would take me on and then help clean it up or whatever before shopping it around. But that doesn't appear to be happening. How do you gage how far off you might be? How do you know if you need to take a different approach with your proposal? And how often do agents write back with more feedback if you ask for it?

Calla Lily
06-16-2008, 10:48 PM
Have you posted your proposal in SYW?

06-16-2008, 11:07 PM
Get a couple of critique partners to look over your work.

Karen Duvall
06-16-2008, 11:11 PM
Gettingby, I believe you write nonfiction, right? So maybe it's your platform? I keep hearing that term tossed around when it comes to nonfiction. Are you an expert writing about something associated with your knowledge? I just don't have enough to go on to think what the problem might be.

06-16-2008, 11:14 PM
Oh, what Karen said is spot on. I keep hearing that from agents about non-fiction. On their blogs, at a writers' conference I attended. Platform is extremely important to them when selecting new non-fiction clients.

06-16-2008, 11:20 PM
I do have somewhat of a platform. My proposal includes published clips related to the subject matter and I have a pretty good magazine willing to endorse my book. And my contacts for the book are people not just anyone has access to. So I tend not to think that is the problem.

I have had people I know read my proposal and thought that now it is in great shape. I'm not a big fan of using SYW for my proposal because I don't really want all this info out there before the book.

It is just frustrating to know I have something good but feeling something might be wrong. Two new rejections on my proposal today are not helping.

Karen Duvall
06-16-2008, 11:29 PM
:Hug2: on the rejections, Gettingby.

clara bow
06-16-2008, 11:31 PM
Bummer about the rejections. However, in querying 20 is a small number, so I wouldn't feel too disheartened. Query widely, although not all at once. The rejections may just mean that those agents don't have the contacts, or your topic isn't what their contacts are seeking right now--but they won't necessarily tell you that. If the rejections aren't strongly personalized, don't read too much into them. It could be market timing, too.

Calla Lily
06-16-2008, 11:32 PM
I'm not a big fan of using SYW for my proposal because I don't really want all this info out there before the book.

I've seen other express this and I admit that I don't understand it. :) SYW is password-protected. We really, honestly only want to help you buff it to a glow, and we have no intention of stealing your work. My critters in SYW have been an enormous help.

If you choose to post, please put a link here and I'll take a look at it.

06-16-2008, 11:40 PM
Clara - I have had more than 20 requests, but I have queried more than 100 agents. There are many I am still waiting to hear from.

Callalily - I believe SYW was created with the best intentions. Personally, I feel like it is more of a place for beginners to get some help. My proposal is very polished and I believe well written. The problems might not be easy fixes, if there really are problems. But thanks for the offer.

06-16-2008, 11:41 PM
Gettingby & Karen,

Let's assume that your query letter and manuscript are written well, which I have no reason to doubt, and that there's a need, market, and audience for your work. Since you've queried numerous agents, and from some of your past posts, it seems clear that you've approached many appropriate agencies. All this said, Karen may have an excellent point. My experience writing nonfiction has always involved the writing of a very detailed platform. I've always made it part of my proposal. Beyond all else said in a platform, you must state why you are well qualified to write a book on the subject, or if you lack such qualifications that you've aligned and consulted with qualified others who will lend their name (and title-if appropriate) to the work. For example, I once wrote a book about magic (basically history of, and how the masters of old and today did and do their "magic" tricks). I knew absolutely nothing about magic, but I believed I had a really good and different idea for a book. After initial research I lined up a very well known magician to consult and oversee the entire work. He is listed as the co-author even though he didn't write a word on his own. I also used his name, title, and various connections in my proposal and platform. Is this perhaps the type of thing that might be holding you back?

Calla Lily
06-16-2008, 11:47 PM
gettingby, you might want to look at Terry Whalin's Book Proposals that Sell. Good luck!

06-16-2008, 11:49 PM
Thanks, Scope. It is always great to have you post. I understand what you are saying about a platform, but I think I am OK in that department. I wish I knew what was wrong and how to fix it. Do you know any magic tricks that might work?

06-17-2008, 12:04 AM
No, but if I did, I'd magically send you my magic wand.

06-17-2008, 12:51 AM

cate townsend
06-17-2008, 08:21 AM
Just lending some support, gettingby. I don't have experience with non-fic so I'm not sure I can help. Maybe change your perspective on the whole rejection numbers thing. Instead of thinking of all the requests you've received that turned into rejections, think of the requests that are still coming in, and those that might turn into requests. It sounds like you're pretty confident that your work is the best it can be, so let it go at that and stay focused on the positive.

06-18-2008, 09:50 PM
I have been trying to rework things, but easier said than done because I don't really know what's wrong if anything. Woke up late, but had a few more requests for my proposal. I am sending out the same one that other agents have seen, hoping I am just making a fuss over nothing or one of the new agents will have solid advice if something needs to be changed. I did add a little to my platform just in case. None of the agents that have rejected me ever respond again. I don't expect them to, but I know some of you have had some luck with that. I really just want an offer so I can get this book done and published. This is just such a crazy ride trying to sell a book.

06-20-2008, 08:17 AM
Hey, what is SWY? I'll probably wanna go there and check mine out...