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kellion92
03-22-2011, 02:48 AM
Another poster wanted to know the average number of rejections before getting an agent. I don't think there's much good data out there, so let's create some!

If you have an agent, how many rejections/no responses did you receive before accepting an offer?

ETA: If you have had more than one agent, please answer for your most recent querying experience. Thanks!

ETA: And only include the rejections from the book that attracted the agent. This isn't about long-term perseverance, but how long it takes for an agent-attracting book to find an agent.

Amarie
03-22-2011, 05:29 AM
Kellion, this is always a tricky question because of how many different manuscripts some writers have to write before hitting on one that gets an agent. You may either want to specify you are just talking about the manuscript that got an agent or if you want to know all rejections, specify that instead.

kellion92
03-22-2011, 07:43 AM
Amarie, it would be most useful to include only the rejections for the book that got the agent. Or so I think.

blacbird
03-22-2011, 07:47 AM
Does infinity count as more than 100?

Wayne K
03-22-2011, 07:51 AM
More than 100, but I sent 2 or 300 before I knew what I was doing

Wayne K
03-22-2011, 07:52 AM
Just saw the ETA . The second agent took about fifty

Anne Lyle
03-22-2011, 04:00 PM
Two rejections, two no-responses. That's the full extent of my novel-submissions-to-agents history prior to representation.

ChaosTitan
03-22-2011, 05:34 PM
Amarie, it would be most useful to include only the rejections for the book that got the agent. Or so I think.

Oops. I selected my answer before I saw your clarification. I chose 51-75, because it took three different books before I found an agent.

Now, on the book that was actually signed, I sent nine queries and got four rejections and one non-response.

Phaeal
03-22-2011, 05:50 PM
Interesting. So far, the two most heavily populated categories are at the extremes of 0-10 and More than 100. The mid-range is empty. I am already developing a hypothesis about this distribution, but it must await further data and the completion of my Cylon detector.

Nick Blaze
03-22-2011, 08:00 PM
Interesting. So far, the two most heavily populated categories are at the extremes of 0-10 and More than 100. The mid-range is empty. I am already developing a hypothesis about this distribution, but it must await further data and the completion of my Cylon detector.
This is a bit surprising, actually.

Anne Lyle
03-22-2011, 08:11 PM
My conclusion is, either you know what you're doing from the get-go and send a commercially viable manuscript to an agent who's a good match, or you plug away and perseverance pays off in the end. The mid-range is empty because it's the "meh" manuscripts and less determined writers that fail to secure an agent.

Sounds about right to me :)

Irysangel
03-22-2011, 09:13 PM
Oh, I didn't see the clarification either. I put 51-75 because like ChaosTitan, I shopped two earlier manuscripts that got rejected all over town. The third one that snagged me an agent, I only queried about 10 I think, and pulled the ms before I could get a lot of rejections.

Second agent, no querying (was a direct referral from a friend). When I moved on to my third agent and queried again, I sent out 4 queries, got one rejection, one offer, and two non-responses.

Phaeal
03-22-2011, 09:29 PM
My conclusion is, either you know what you're doing from the get-go and send a commercially viable manuscript to an agent who's a good match, or you plug away and perseverance pays off in the end. The mid-range is empty because it's the "meh" manuscripts and less determined writers that fail to secure an agent.

Sounds about right to me :)

Hey, stop horning in on my hypothesis. Although I do have a speshul corollary at which you merely hint, muhahahahaha...

Phaeal
03-22-2011, 09:30 PM
This is a bit surprising, actually.

The results or the fact that my Cylon detector is not yet market-ready? (Not my fault -- people and other entities keep distracting me.)

Jess Haines
03-22-2011, 11:55 PM
To the original poster: It was either 5 or 6 no response/rejections. I then took a break for about 4 months, reworked my query and fixed up my ms, and then received an offer of representation on the next query I sent out.


Interesting. So far, the two most heavily populated categories are at the extremes of 0-10 and More than 100. The mid-range is empty. I am already developing a hypothesis about this distribution, but it must await further data and the completion of my Cylon detector.

I would respectfully request a copy of your plans for building a Cylon detector. We desperately need one at my house while playing the BSG board game.

Jamesaritchie
03-23-2011, 12:08 AM
No rejections.

Phaeal
03-23-2011, 12:17 AM
I would respectfully request a copy of your plans for building a Cylon detector. We desperately need one at my house while playing the BSG board game.

Even though you are one of these disgusting people who get an agent within 0-10 attempts, I will ask Six to PM the algorithms your way. Use them at your own risk.

I see that the 0-10 responders now have a commanding lead. My hypothesis is undergoing some revision, to take into account a possible response bias. Much-rejected people, where are you? And bring chocolate and Scotch when you come.

PoppysInARow
03-23-2011, 01:33 AM
I'm one of those 0-10 writers. My first query turned into a full and then an offer of representation within 24 hours. This query was sent in a batch of five, three others rejected, and one other partial request.

I understand why people could look at stats like this and get frustrated. But the fact is, I wrote six books before I wrote the one that got me my agent. Four of them were queried. A few of them came close, but otherwise they bombed.

I took everything I learned from three years of querying and several more years of writing and put it all into the book that got me my offer. It's not like the people who only send out a handful of queries before getting an offer spin off a quick book and send it out there and have agents clawing at their legs. The stats for a particular book, in my opinion, are really only half the story. You have to look at the whole career before you guage how a writer got their agent.

Otherwise, it's easy to get discouraged when your book has eighty rejects and someone else got an offer on their first query.

illiterwrite
03-23-2011, 01:35 AM
One rejection before my second query landed me my agent. But the book never sold.

kellion92
03-23-2011, 05:40 AM
Poppys, that's a good point. We need a full survey that asks how many novels written, how many novels queried, how many rejections on each novel that was trunked, how many on the one that got repped, how many offers, how many total rejections?

Anybody want to put up a full survey somewhere else? :D

Anne Lyle
03-23-2011, 12:05 PM
I took everything I learned from three years of querying and several more years of writing and put it all into the book that got me my offer. It's not like the people who only send out a handful of queries before getting an offer spin off a quick book and send it out there and have agents clawing at their legs. The stats for a particular book, in my opinion, are really only half the story. You have to look at the whole career before you guage how a writer got their agent.

Very true - my 4-rejections book is my first novel, but it took me four years and two writing courses to get there, and many years of unfinished novels before that. I'm a very cautious submitter, because I don't like to go into a competition I can't win :)

KTC
03-23-2011, 03:52 PM
Too many to count, but who cares. It's part of the process. Some get lucky on the first time out, some never get lucky.

Jamesaritchie
03-23-2011, 09:04 PM
Too many to count, but who cares. It's part of the process. Some get lucky on the first time out, some never get lucky.

It isn't luck that lands an agent or a pubisher, it's a combination of doing the research it takes to know exactly where to send something, and of having the quality to send.

Priene
03-23-2011, 10:34 PM
Fascinating. The successes are following something like a geometric distribution (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Geometric_distribution), where most manuscripts get placed early with a mean of about 10 rejections before successes, and there's a very long tail stretching beyond a hundred. And getting all good manuscripts accepted involves something like the coupon collector's problem (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Coupon_collector%27s_problem).

In short, you're most likely to get an acceptance early, but there's a continuing low probability even after you've accumulated dozens of rejections.

wyntermoon
03-23-2011, 11:06 PM
First book:
8 agents queried
2 requested proposal within ten minutes
4 passed, 2 no-response

Total time: 6 weeks before accepting representation

Note: First book didn't sell but second one did (on Monday). :)

Never give up, never give in!

wyntermoon
03-23-2011, 11:07 PM
It isn't luck that lands an agent or a pubisher, it's a combination of doing the research it takes to know exactly where to send something, and of having the quality to send.

Word. *bolding mine but can't emphasize this enough*

Jess Haines
03-23-2011, 11:57 PM
Even though you are one of these disgusting people who get an agent within 0-10 attempts, I will ask Six to PM the algorithms your way. Use them at your own risk.

Thank you kindly. I will take the... uh... source into consideration. O.o

Snappy
03-24-2011, 12:44 AM
Research, quality MS and query, AND a certain amount of luck. No one can tell me that luck didn't play a part in it.

Phaeal
03-24-2011, 01:15 AM
Fascinating. The successes are following something like a geometric distribution (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Geometric_distribution), where most manuscripts get placed early with a mean of about 10 rejections before successes, and there's a very long tail stretching beyond a hundred. And getting all good manuscripts accepted involves something like the coupon collector's problem (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Coupon_collector%27s_problem).

In short, you're most likely to get an acceptance early, but there's a continuing low probability even after you've accumulated dozens of rejections.

Nice.

Another factor important to understanding the phenomenon: What type of books are getting quick acceptances?

I imagine:

-- The MS is competent to excellent.
-- The MS is clearly in a perennially popular genre (romance, mystery.)
-- The MS is in a currently "hot" subgenre, with market saturation not yet in sight.
-- The MS has one or more effective hooks. Internal hooks are in the MS itself, a plot twist or intriguing situation or character, for example. External hooks could be everything from "The author is a celebrity" to "This book addresses a big cultural topic in some way." Something marketing could use.

Or:

-- The MS hits the RIGHT DESK early, with the RIGHT DESK meaning the one occupied by the book's ideal reader, the one who "gets" it. Could be luck, could be inspired research.

Or:

-- A combination of the above two.

I imagine that the longer the book goes begging, the more likely it's "difficult" in some way:

-- Cross-genre.
-- Genre-expanding.
-- Offbeat/experimental.
-- Less popular genre or subgenre.
-- Just plain idiosyncratic or different in some way.
-- No clear external hook for marketing to use.

For such books to be accepted they MUST hit the RIGHT DESK. And the RIGHT DESK might not be obvious to the researcher. The slow-acceptance writer must have enough faith in the book to persevere for a loooong time. Those without this faith will drop out, maybe too soon. Hence the light population of the middle-range numbers.

Chris P
03-24-2011, 01:27 AM
Interesting stats. They support the approach of querying about a dozen agents and then stopping to re-evaluate the query and your approach. I have only sent out 5 with one rejection so far (I only started this weekend) but I suspect my approach on who to query is going to need the biggest adjustment.

ETA: Obviously I can't vote in the poll because I just started querying.

Nick Blaze
03-24-2011, 01:43 AM
It isn't luck that lands an agent or a pubisher, it's a combination of doing the research it takes to know exactly where to send something, and of having the quality to send.
There is always luck involved. Always a gray area. Yes, great research and a quality manuscript is much more likely to land, perhaps up to 99.9%, but it can even come down to the mood of the agent. Obviously, it's not beneficial to allow their mood or physical health to get in their way, but humans are humans.

kellion92
03-24-2011, 06:01 AM
Great analysis, Phael.

ink wench
03-24-2011, 04:00 PM
Yup, Phael did a nice job.

Targeting is great, but targeting without luck gets you nowhere. I did such a good job of targeting a couple agents with my most current book that I got glowing rejections that ended with the agent stating they'd already taken on something too similar. No way I could have known that, though, because those books hadn't sold yet.

Phaeal
03-24-2011, 06:17 PM
Heh. All the agents I pinpoint-targeted ("I love and am actively seeking YA urban fantasy with a male protagonist and a Cthulhu Mythos background and a brainy female BFF and at least two named canine characters set in an old streetcar suburb of Providence, RI, in a remodeled Craftsman with carriage house") turned me down. All I knew about the preferences of the agent who read the full overnight and offered the next day was that he'd read YA.

Windcutter
06-01-2011, 10:55 PM
Interesting statistics. From other threads it also seems that a lot of people shop their first novel around, get lots of rejections on query alone (with only a few partial requests), then trunk it, and get an agent pretty fast when they send out queries for the second novel. It's like their first book has a totally unmarketable idea or something. I wouldn't be curious if I didn't see such a situation pop up very often in agent-related conversations.

Anna L.
06-01-2011, 11:48 PM
Those stats don't tell us if the query changed though. My first query was generic (I followed all those how-to-write-a-query guides) and nobody cared for it. After 20ish rejections I wrote a brand new query without paying much attention to query guides, just trying to be catchy. Sent it to five agents. A week later, my first full request rolled in. Coincidence, or proof I now have a query that works? Time will tell.