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View Full Version : Form rejections and when to revise



Devil Ledbetter
04-26-2010, 07:52 PM
I don't mind form rejections or even non-response rejections. They're part of the business. But I wonder now how much the wisdom that form rejections mean the query is poor still applies now that most agents are relying heavily on form rejections or non-response rejections.

Since agents have significantly reduced the number of personalized rejections they're willing to send out, how many or what percentage of form rejections would now indicate a weak query? After 3 or 4 form rejections should I assume the query is the problem, or should I chalk it up to agents' new reluctance to send almost anything but form rejections? Should I wait until I have 8 form rejections to revise? 10?

My query has a hook, sticks to the plot and is businesslike. It's only going out to agents who represent the kind of novel it is. It doesn't contain any of the glaring errors virtually all of the blogging agents have shared as reasons for form rejections.

If I revised it yet again for every few form rejections, am I just spinning my wheels?

Drachen Jager
04-26-2010, 09:14 PM
Yes. I do it too but there's no need to revise. If the query is good the book will stand or fall on it's own strengths.

If you're super concerned, there is at least one agency out there who actually does not accept queries, Moveable Type Literary just wants the first 10 pages + a synopsis. That's an attitude I can really appreciate.

It's important also to remember that début books by non-celebrities are very very rarely picked up by a good agency. I can't find the thread right now but there's a link to an interview with an Acquisitions Editor for TOR who says it's much easier to find an agent once you have an offer from a publisher. You don't have to ACCEPT that offer but having it makes finding an agent pretty simple.

You have to look at it from the Agent's point of view. They want their work to be relatively smooth, if they call an editor they want the person on the other end of the phone to be thinking, "Oh great it's ----- I'm sure I'll want this book."

Their job's half done by the time they pick up the phone! Just because the Editor knows that agent has a record of bringing in quality projects. So the incentive is double for an agent, they DO have something to lose by being rejected or selling a book that flops.

Phaeal
04-26-2010, 10:02 PM
It's an interesting question, when to redo the query. I waited for ten form rejections, then revised. However, you will get to the point when you're convinced the query is as strong as you can make it. What to do then?

All a query has to do is present the story as succinctly, as honestly and as compellingly as possible. After that, it's just a matter of hitting the agent, maybe one in a hundred or more, whose nerves start to tingle when she reads your letter. If the story's not the flavor of the month (which may garner a lot of responses for that reason alone), you just need to settle in for the long haul.

Mystic Blossom
04-27-2010, 01:47 AM
You should also make sure you're querying the right people, but there's nothing wrong, in my opinion, with putting your query letter through a few hoops. Honestly, the second you stop thinking about statistics, the easier your life is going to be. Just focus on making your query the best it can be, and find the best agents that fit your work, and the rest will take care of itself.

Ineti
04-27-2010, 03:04 AM
If I revised it yet again for every few form rejections, am I just spinning my wheels?

Possibly, yes. There are hundreds of agents and editors out there. If you're revising after just a few rejections, you may not be giving your query enough of a chance.

I'd suggest sending the query to a couple dozen agents and editors before revising or rewriting the query. Unless you're writing in a really small, niche genre, you should have no problem compiling a large list of agents and editors who handle what you write.

Good luck!

arkady
05-02-2010, 01:05 AM
Moveable Type Literary just wants the first 10 pages + a synopsis.

Where'd you find those submissions requirements for Moveable Type? I found their website so artsy and confusing that I never did discover what their submissions requirements are. And their page at Publishers' Marketplace wasn't any better.

Jamesaritchie
05-02-2010, 10:49 PM
I don't mind form rejections or even non-response rejections. They're part of the business. But I wonder now how much the wisdom that form rejections mean the query is poor still applies now that most agents are relying heavily on form rejections or non-response rejections.

Since agents have significantly reduced the number of personalized rejections they're willing to send out, how many or what percentage of form rejections would now indicate a weak query? After 3 or 4 form rejections should I assume the query is the problem, or should I chalk it up to agents' new reluctance to send almost anything but form rejections? Should I wait until I have 8 form rejections to revise? 10?

My query has a hook, sticks to the plot and is businesslike. It's only going out to agents who represent the kind of novel it is. It doesn't contain any of the glaring errors virtually all of the blogging agents have shared as reasons for form rejections.

If I revised it yet again for every few form rejections, am I just spinning my wheels?

How does the manner of rejection change anything at all? Agents never were big on true personalized rejections. Even the best personalized rejections are still almost all form.

That aside, a rejection is a rejection is a rejection, whether it comes with a form response, a personalized rejection, or no response at all. Whatever form a rejection takes, it always, no exceptions, means the query you sent did not make the agent want to read your manuscript.

Glaring errors are bad, but it isn't glaring errors that cause most rejections, it's simply a bland, boring query letter. Take every error out of a bland, boring query letter, and it's still a bland, boring query letter. No one says yes to such a query.

From my experience, My query has a hook, sticks to the plot and is businesslike sounds exactly like a query I wouldn't want to read. "Businesslike" is generally not good. A businesslike query usually tells the agent about the novel, and regardless of what the novel is, such queries all sound alike. Remember Charlie Brown's teacher? That's how most queries read after a few days on the job.

A good query sparkles with imagination. A good query has stellar, exciting writing that shows the agent the story, and shows the agent you can write extremely well.

A really good query is unique to the writer, and to the agent. It does not just stick to the plot in a businesslike manner.

On a side note, never use the economy as a reason to cut off your own nose. Writing is a business, and if you aren't willing to invest in your own business, why should an agent or publisher be willing to invest in it?

And computers are NOT green. Paper is far greener than computers and e-mail. Paper comes from renewable resources. Computers and e-mail come from non-renewable, getting scarce, petroleum, along with many semi-rare elements and minerals.

Using computers to go green is like practicing abstinence by having sex.

Niki_G
05-07-2010, 10:40 PM
I had this same question. Is form rejection after form rejection: your idea stinks to everyone but you or your idea is just not for me personally? I know it's all subjective, but... Especially when you include sample pages as well. You just can't help but wonder.

So 10 to 20 is a pretty good number to use then? Have people look at your query and try a new version after 10 to 20? That seems to somewhat be the consensus.

illiterwrite
05-07-2010, 11:04 PM
If you haven't had any requests for sample pages after 10 queries, personally I'd take a good hard look at the query and your story. If you read your query on the back of a book, say, would YOU want to read it? Or does it sound like other books you have already read? Is it confusing, does it ramble?

Drachen Jager
05-10-2010, 09:15 AM
Where'd you find those submissions requirements for Moveable Type? I found their website so artsy and confusing that I never did discover what their submissions requirements are. And their page at Publishers' Marketplace wasn't any better.

http://www.publishersmarketplace.com/members/meredithdawson/

"Having found that that query letters do a fine job of showcasing one's talent in writing jacket copy or promotional material but rarely offer agents a useful preview of a writer's prosecraft, in lieu of query letters, MTLG asks that authors send the first ten pages of their manuscript, followed by a one page synopsis of the balance of the work, and a word count."

A sentiment I can agree with.