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ReflectiveAcuity
11-14-2011, 02:45 AM
I first began submitting queries back in 2008 for a 118K-word memoir that included a history of the town where I grew up. After several rejections, I decided to self-print. I understood that the market for that particular work was probably limited; something that was later proven with just fewer than 200 books sold, to date, on Amazon and other sites. Up until that time, my writings (paid-for material) had been relegated to some trade publications (mostly travel magazines that were interested in my travels to Cuba) and writing contracts on oDesk.com (which, by the way, is a great place to make money as a writer if you want to dish out about 15-20 pages a day for an entire weekÖand receive a payment of about $45 for all that work.) Last week I began submitting queries once again for a 123K-word historical-fiction manuscript that I completed and then spent about six months polishing to perfection. I had, this time, studied the query process firmly and fervently, and thanks to the overwhelmingly-immense amount of information on the net about how to write that one-page letter (and thanks to many of you, as well, here at AW), I have no doubt that mine is as good as itís going to be. Very importantly, I also studied which agents I should submit to. And with literary agencies now preferring to go greenósaving treesÖand all thatóit seems that most now prefer queries by email, making the submission process a lot simpler. What I donít understand is the agenciesí comments about not always being able to respond.

No response? An agencyís submission guidelines often offer a note (usually at the end) informing the author that they receive hundreds of query submissions a weekósome say hundreds a dayóand that it is impossible to respond to everyone. Because my writing is a heck of a lot better than my math, I seem to have difficulty grasping that notion.

I have lived fifty years (a whole half-century), and I think it would be fair to say that I have met several thousand human beings throughout the course of my lifetime (possibly a lot more). I have yet, however, met anyone who had told me that he or she had written a 120K-word manuscript, and much less anyone that had queried a publisher or literary agent. The what-are-the-odds-of-that thought sometimes rolls through my mind like a bad nightmare.

So who else out there is doing what Iím doing? What hundreds-of-query-submissions are literary agencies getting? From people wanting to publish a handful of pages with poetry? (I have met a lot of those).

Sure, sure, I knowÖjust walk into any major book store and look around (or look at the amount of interest shown here on AW, for instance). Itís quite obvious that there are many others out thereÖsomewhere. Iím not totally out of touch with reality.

Certain literary agencies receive hundreds of queries a day? Oh! So thatís why they donít do television commercials.

Paul
11-14-2011, 02:50 AM
em, welcome to the beginning of a long and often lonely road.


anyway, the questions you'll be asked is, did your research not suggest that getting a first novel of 123k words published would be more difficult than say, 90k?

and when did you send out your queries?

and, what's the beef? No responses?

:)

ReflectiveAcuity
11-14-2011, 03:30 AM
em, welcome to the beginning of a long and often lonely road.


anyway, the questions you'll be asked is, did your research not suggest that getting a first novel of 123k words published would be more difficult than say, 90k?

and when did you send out your queries?

and, what's the beef? No responses?

:)


I began sending out queries about 10 days ago. I know itís too soon for responses. Iím not complaining. I was just wondering, in general, about agents that never respond (unless interested in the work, of course).

I basically had no control over the word count. Once my hands start typing, they wonít stop until the story is done. And this story transports readers through decades from the 1950s through the 80ís, with flashbacks to WW II (the 40ís) when a couple in the story had met. Kind of hard to squeeze that into 90K words. At this point I would not be able to cut back the word count for this novel. That would be the equivalent, I think, of removing the arm or leg from my first born.

Drachen Jager
11-14-2011, 03:37 AM
Most agencies see over 200 queries a week. That's why they all use form-letters or non-response to tell you they're not interested. Even taking a few minutes each would mean hours every month and days of productivity every year wasted.

Yes, there are thousands of other people shopping manuscripts 80k or longer right this minute. There are billions of people in the world, so it's not too surprising you haven't met any.

C'est la vie.

VictoriaWrites
11-14-2011, 03:43 AM
I basically had no control over the word count. Once my hands start typing, they wonít stop until the story is done. And this story transports readers through decades from the 1950s through the 80ís, with flashbacks to WW II (the 40ís) when a couple in the story had met. Kind of hard to squeeze that into 90K words. At this point I would not be able to cut back the word count for this novel. That would be the equivalent, I think, of removing the arm or leg from my first born.


I will be the first one to admit that I am super inexperienced and know basically nothing about querying agents. But... this worries me.

How did you not have control over your word count? I understand that first drafts are long for many people, but did you edit? Did you cut extraneous material?

And the bit about editing your novel being equivalent to removing an arm or a leg from your first born is probably not an attitude that will get you far in the publishing industry, IMHO.

happywritermom
11-14-2011, 03:48 AM
I understand the trade-off -- the ease of equeries means more queries, which means agents have a much more difficult time responding -- but I also feel your pain.

When I first entered query hell about three years ago, it seemed most rejections came overnight. So did full and partial requests. The agent I ultimately signed with requested a full immediately and I signed with him about a week later.

Now, I must have about 30 unanswered queries out there, some as old as five or six weeks. Yet, I'm learning that the lack of immediate response does not necessarily mean no response. I am sometimes shocked to see a response in my inbox from an agent I queried almost two months before.

This time around, the average response time for a response seems to be about six weeks. Full requests have come any time from a few hours after querying to a few weeks. I'm waiting to hear back on a couple of fulls that have been out for two months. Three years ago, I would have nudged by now. This time around, I'm giving it three months before I even think about nudging.

You would be amazed how many writers -- good and bad -- are out there. With the advent of computers, high-speed internet and email, it's not all that hard for wanna-be writers to put together something they call a manuscript and start spamming every agent out there with it.
It's not that agents are getting more quality.
Rather the computer age has resulted in more quanity, much of it junk that agents have to sort through to find the gems.

Chumplet
11-14-2011, 03:58 AM
If you go through your manuscript, you might cut several hundred words by cutting extra adjectives and extraneous words like "that." You might tighten your prose by showing rather than telling (I know I'm guilty of that). Without knowing if your manuscript is bloated, we can only offer general suggestions.

I assume you had beta readers or critique partners for your book. If not, stick around long enough to be eligible for Share Your Work and give us a sample of your writing. Even comments on a short chapter can give you the tools to tighten your whole manuscript.

Agents don't always respond. That sucks. I know because I've been querying one of my novels for over a year and over a hundred agents. Some were helpful, some asked for revisions but passed, and some only gave me the sound of crickets.

I think an important quality a writer should possess is patience.

ReflectiveAcuity
11-14-2011, 04:11 AM
Yes, there are thousands of other people shopping manuscripts 80k or longer right this minute. There are billions of people in the world, so it's not too surprising you haven't met any.


I guess you're right. Come to think of it, I haven't met anyone that's flown to the moon either.

ReflectiveAcuity
11-14-2011, 04:18 AM
How did you not have control over your word count? I understand that first drafts are long for many people, but did you edit? Did you cut extraneous material?

And the bit about editing your novel being equivalent to removing an arm or a leg from your first born is probably not an attitude that will get you far in the publishing industry, IMHO.

I'm sorry, but if I can paraphrase what I stated, I would feel something similar to that of Picasso or Goya being asked to slice off a big chunk of their artwork after it was done. --- Yes, the manuscript has been edited and it was read by my wife, who said "it's great". (You may think that's a biased opinion, but believe me, she can be brutal).

Chumplet
11-14-2011, 04:37 AM
I'm sorry, but if I can paraphrase what I stated, I would feel something similar to that of Picasso or Goya being asked to slice off a big chunk of their artwork after it was done. --- Yes, the manuscript has been edited and it was read by my wife, who said "it's great". (You may think that's a biased opinion, but believe me, she can be brutal).

My parents read my books. My dad had many helpful comments. But they are family and they will be biased. Also, they are readers, not people in the industry who know the finer details on how a book is structured.

Getting feedback from other writers is priceless. Yes, they can nitpick, but if you get consistent comments from several people, you begin to see what needs work and what can stand alone.

Picasso and Goya destroyed, painted over and trashed countless paintings before they had something they could feel proud of. I'm a painter too, and my early work was crap.

We love our creations. They are precious to us. But we all need a little perspective once in a while.

jclarkdawe
11-14-2011, 04:41 AM
Last week I began submitting queries once again for a 123K-word historical-fiction manuscript that I completed and then spent about six months polishing to perfection. I had, this time, studied the query process firmly and fervently, and thanks to the overwhelmingly-immense amount of information on the net about how to write that one-page letter (and thanks to many of you, as well, here at AW), I have no doubt that mine is as good as itís going to be. Emphasis added. I, however, have no doubt that your query has some problems. When you get up to 50 posts, if you dare, come on over to query letter hell in share your work and let the squirrels work on it. Take a look at some of my posts and if you're feeling real lucky, send me a PM and remind me I wanted to look at your query.

I could be wrong, but I've got some whiffs of problems in your queries already. But until I see the query, I can't decide which one(s) are going to show up there.

Certain literary agencies receive hundreds of queries a day? Oh! So thatís why they donít do television commercials. Some agents receive in the range of 35k a year, based on their figures. I believe them. Figure a query takes about 30 seconds to process. A hundred a day takes an hour to go through. And 99% of the queries are rejected. A lot of fishing for very few fish that you want.



I began sending out queries about 10 days ago. I know itís too soon for responses. Iím not complaining. I was just wondering, in general, about agents that never respond (unless interested in the work, of course). No, it's not. Take a look at my thread -- An experiment with a query (http://www.absolutewrite.com/forums/showthread.php?t=86645). People have gotten full requests in minutes from sending the query.

I basically had no control over the word count. Once my hands start typing, they wonít stop until the story is done. And this story transports readers through decades from the 1950s through the 80ís, with flashbacks to WW II (the 40ís) when a couple in the story had met. Kind of hard to squeeze that into 90K words. At this point I would not be able to cut back the word count for this novel. That would be the equivalent, I think, of removing the arm or leg from my first born. Two things concern me here.

First is you have what's called a cradle-to-grave story. Not meant as a compliment. These types of stories are incredibly hard to have a central arc to. Without knowing that central arc, the query is next to impossible. I've seen very few good queries for this type of book.

Second is not having control over your story sounds like editing problems. It wouldn't surprise me if that bleeds over into your query. Long books need incredibly tight queries to be successful. Long books with meandering queries warn an agent that editing needs to be done. Lots of editing.


I could be wrong here, and it's up to you, but I'm feeling some problems already without even seeing your query. I'm not an agent, but I look at a lot of queries and after a while, you get a feel for these sorts of things.

Best of luck,

Jim Clark-Dawe

Mclesh
11-14-2011, 04:47 AM
My parents read my books. My dad had many helpful comments. But they are family and they will be biased. Also, they are readers, not people in the industry who know the finer details on how a book is structured.

Getting feedback from other writers is priceless. Yes, they can nitpick, but if you get consistent comments from several people, you begin to see what needs work and what can stand alone.

Picasso and Goya destroyed, painted over and trashed countless paintings before they had something they could feel proud of. I'm a painter too, and my early work was crap.

We love our creations. They are precious to us. But we all need a little perspective once in a while.

Chumplet, this is brilliant.

leahzero
11-14-2011, 04:54 AM
I'm sorry, but if I can paraphrase what I stated, I would feel something similar to that of Picasso or Goya being asked to slice off a big chunk of their artwork after it was done. --- Yes, the manuscript has been edited and it was read by my wife, who said "it's great". (You may think that's a biased opinion, but believe me, she can be brutal).

RA,

Just by your writing and communication approach in this thread, I have a strong intuition that your MS is probably verbose and digressive. There's likely a lot you can cut.

The point that previous posters were trying to make is the attitude "I won't harm my precious baby" is seriously detrimental to a writer who wants to be published commercially. The way you're expressing resistance to trimming your work to genre standards is very typical of beginning writers.

There's a popular phrase in writerdom: "Kill your darlings." It can mean a lot of things, but to me it especially means to not fall so in love with my words that I refuse to cut material, even when the cutting would improve the work.

I'll second Uncle Jim's suggestions: take the time to get to know AW, get your post count up, and share what you're comfortable sharing (your query, your first chapter, whatever). I'm sure your wife is a tough cookie, but there's no substitute for letting other writers of all skill and success levels slap some eyeballs on it.

Best of luck.

Cyia
11-14-2011, 05:15 AM
It sounds like you may have a case of Golden Word Syndrome. Whether you want to believe it or not, you DO have control over what ends up in the final MS. What's final for you will NOT be what's final should that MS make it all the way to publication.

Thousands of books get published every year (commercially), those thousands are roughly a percentage of 1% of what gets written, so that tells you how much competition's out there. As far as how many queries an agent gets a day, my agent had a contest last week and got over 600 in an hour. (That's definitely higher than normal, but still a glimpse at how many people want a shot at publishing.)

It's not only time that makes an agent reluctant to reply, either. Many of the agents who have previously replied to all have stopped that policy because they get combative, aggressive, even threatening responses to very professional "not for me" answers. No one's going to continue doing something that puts them in the path of that kind of abuse.

Listen to jclarkdawe and turn the squirrels loose on your query when you've got the posts required to use Share Your Work. The people here are exceptional at pinpointing problems with execution and voice in a query, and doubly skilled at finding those pesky words you can't seem to cut.

Chumplet
11-14-2011, 06:07 AM
Also, it's a good idea to read author's posts and blogs on how to receive critiques. There is a difference between a good critique and irresponsible criticism. Get feedback from many sources, choose what works for you and don't try to please everyone.

You might not please every agent, but there is probably one out there who will connect with your work and want to be your champion. Your job is to find that agent. Don't worry about the ones who don't respond, or give you a cursory rejection. Don't obsess. Don't give up. Don't ignore your peers who care for their fellow writers.

This is not a competition. Every good writer has a place in this big, bad, cruel, indifferent world of publishing.

Damn.... I think I have to go look at my MS again.

Jamiekswriter
11-15-2011, 12:56 AM
My parents read my books.
Even the naughty ones???? ;)

Anyway to the OP, you might also want to do a find search for "LY" that will bring up all the adverbs. Cut 'em. Use a strong verb instead.

Also search on "said." You might not need all the ones that are there.

Do you have a prologue? You might be able to cut that too.

Definitely, post up in Query letter hell. The feedback is awesome.

I sent out over 100 queries and it took me about 18 months to get an agent. About 20% of the agents didn't respond, but most of them I knew going in they were a "no response = no agent." Keep trying and don't give up.

quicklime
11-15-2011, 01:49 AM
reflective,

just jumping on the "I already get a bad vibe about several things" bandwagon. Now, that's not always a bad thing, and this isn't a pile-on: if you're certain it is golden, put some up and see what others think. See if there is a trend. You may indeed have something finished, but be aware whole orders of magnitude more people are fervently convinced of this than are correct. That is WHY the slush pile is so huge.

If you want us to say "agents is bastids for not responding", well, I'm sure some folks can do that, but most folks here are actually trying to help you. It may not LOOK like help, because they are dragging you far afield from where you thought you were headed in this thread, but their intentions are good. More importantly, they tend to be a pretty damn astute bunch. Make friends with QLH and SYW. See what folks there have to say; the advice is free, other than maybe having to wait a few more weeks to get your ducks in a row before more querying.

Quick

Cyia
11-15-2011, 01:59 AM
I understood that the market for that particular work was probably limited; something that was later proven with just fewer than 200 books sold, to date, on Amazon and other sites.


Let me also point out that 200 books sold may not be an indication of market-size, but rather a product of self-publishing. That's a pretty standard self-publishing sales total.

Chumplet
11-15-2011, 02:01 AM
Even the naughty ones???? ;)

I did not allow my dad to read the naughty one. But my mom did!

jaksen
11-15-2011, 03:30 AM
Aren't historicals often 'longer' than say, ordinary fiction? Someone somewhere put up a 'typical' word count of various genres. I am not sure what thread it was on, or who did it, but I do recall historicals (along with fantasy epics) being on the longer side, even for a debut writer.

Anyhow, waiting two weeks for any kind of response from an agent is nothing, nada, like a mere breath. I've seen writers (on AW) who took up to a year to get a good agent, and another year before the book sold to a good publisher. This writing stuff takes time. Even sending in a short story to a good magazine can take up to nine months to get a response and then another six months to a year before it is published.

(I seem to like the word 'good.')

The thing to do while waiting is to always be writing - always be writing, AND to keep looking around, reading blogs and places like AW and Publisher's Marketplace for information on agents, agencies, and so on.

Good luck!

Raquel
11-15-2011, 04:33 AM
I'd seriously suggest finding a great critique partner. My critique partners have taught me a ton about writing. Unfortunately it also ruined reading for me as I find myself wanting to grab a red pen and write in the margins of published books outlining holes in their plots before mailing it back to them (No I've never done this. It wouldn't do any good.) But I must say most everything I've learned about writing comes from the wonderful people who've taken hours of their time to teach me what I need to know to make my manuscript better.
The point is readers are far more forgiving than writers. If you want to make your manuscript fantastic you need people who know what they're talking about and have worked in the field of writing.

LaneHeymont
11-15-2011, 05:47 AM
I understand the trade-off -- the ease of equeries means more queries, which means agents have a much more difficult time responding -- but I also feel your pain.

When I first entered query hell about three years ago, it seemed most rejections came overnight. So did full and partial requests. The agent I ultimately signed with requested a full immediately and I signed with him about a week later.

Now, I must have about 30 unanswered queries out there, some as old as five or six weeks. Yet, I'm learning that the lack of immediate response does not necessarily mean no response. I am sometimes shocked to see a response in my inbox from an agent I queried almost two months before.

This time around, the average response time for a response seems to be about six weeks. Full requests have come any time from a few hours after querying to a few weeks. I'm waiting to hear back on a couple of fulls that have been out for two months. Three years ago, I would have nudged by now. This time around, I'm giving it three months before I even think about nudging.

You would be amazed how many writers -- good and bad -- are out there. With the advent of computers, high-speed internet and email, it's not all that hard for wanna-be writers to put together something they call a manuscript and start spamming every agent out there with it.
It's not that agents are getting more quality.
Rather the computer age has resulted in more quanity, much of it junk that agents have to sort through to find the gems.

I didn't get any further in the thread than this, because you totally confused me (not hard lol). SO, you have an agent? Or you had one, parted ways and are now on the all consuming hunt for ANOTHER one? Why is finding an agent so much like hunting? lol

Cyia
11-15-2011, 06:37 AM
I didn't get any further in the thread than this, because you totally confused me (not hard lol). SO, you have an agent? Or you had one, parted ways and are now on the all consuming hunt for ANOTHER one? Why is finding an agent so much like hunting? lol


As unlikely as it sounds, sometimes agent/author combos don't work out. Personalities clash, priorities change, new writers enter the mix, etc. Some agents also leave "the game", which means their writers have to find new representation.

LaneHeymont
11-15-2011, 06:40 AM
As unlikely as it sounds, sometimes agent/author combos don't work out. Personalities clash, priorities change, new writers enter the mix, etc. Some agents also leave "the game", which means their writers have to find new representation.

Oh, no I totally get and know that. I was just confused if THAT'S what happened...I didn't want to assume since...when you assume... :)

happywritermom
11-15-2011, 06:42 AM
As unlikely as it sounds, sometimes agent/author combos don't work out. Personalities clash, priorities change, new writers enter the mix, etc. Some agents also leave "the game", which means their writers have to find new representation.

What Cyia wrote.
I never thought I'd be doing this again.
I thought I'd found my forever-agent.
But it didn't work out for a bunch of reasons and I terminated my contract a few months ago.
So here I am again.
It's kind of like dating after divorce.
I'm much more leary and much more particular this time around.

LaneHeymont
11-15-2011, 06:51 AM
So here I am again.
It's kind of like dating after divorce.
I'm much more leary and much more particular this time around.

I like this analogy!

seun
11-15-2011, 04:29 PM
I basically had no control over the word count. Once my hands start typing, they wonít stop until the story is done. And this story transports readers through decades from the 1950s through the 80ís, with flashbacks to WW II (the 40ís) when a couple in the story had met. Kind of hard to squeeze that into 90K words. At this point I would not be able to cut back the word count for this novel. That would be the equivalent, I think, of removing the arm or leg from my first born.


AWOOGAH! AWOOGAH!

That's my red alert alarm going off. If your way of thinking is that you genuinely don't have any control over the word count, then you're going to get nowhere. What happens if an agent or publisher tells you they like your book but they want you to lose 20,000 words? Do you tell them sorry, but I can't cut anything. It would be like removing a limb from my child.

LaneHeymont
11-15-2011, 05:44 PM
AWOOGAH! AWOOGAH!

That's my red alert alarm going off. If your way of thinking is that you genuinely don't have any control over the word count, then you're going to get nowhere. What happens if an agent or publisher tells you they like your book but they want you to lose 20,000 words? Do you tell them sorry, but I can't cut anything. It would be like removing a limb from my child.

+1

ReflectiveAcuity
11-15-2011, 06:09 PM
RA,
Just by your writing and communication approach in this thread, I have a strong intuition that your MS is probably verbose and digressive. There's likely a lot you can cut.


but most folks here are actually trying to help you. It may not LOOK like help, because they are dragging you far afield from where you thought you were headed in this thread, but their intentions are good.


What happens if an agent or publisher tells you they like your book but they want you to lose 20,000 words? Do you tell them sorry, but I can't cut anything. It would be like removing a limb from my child.

My feelings are not hurt by harsh criticism. On the contrary, I welcome it and know full well that it will greatly help me with learning more about the phases of writing and publishing. So keep it comin’; I love it. I am very thankful to all of you here in this AW community.

I did, however, scroll back through the thread to read what I had written and was unable to find clear moments that were verbose or where I had rambled on, unless I should have eliminated the use of some humor set within parenthesis. (What? No sense of humor?)

Anyway, my intention with starting this thread was to get some feedback about agents that NEVER respond. Not about agents that take too long too respond. And surely not about the differences between a 90K-word and 123K-word ms.

Seun: If an agent were to read the entire manuscript and then ask me to remove 20K words, then yes, I may be reluctant to sign with that agent and simply wait until another responds more favorably. I don’t mean to boast, but I have been over this ms. many times and, in my heart and mind, every line seems critical to the storyline as a whole.

~RA~

Barbara R.
11-15-2011, 06:30 PM
I donít mean to boast, but I have been over this ms. many times and, in my heart and mind, every line seems critical to the storyline as a whole.

~RA~

That means that you've taken it as far as you can alone; it doesn't mean it's perfect. We can only see what we see; we can't see what we don't. Every time I send a ms. out I feel it's perfect, though I know it's not. That's what editors are for. I've had the benefit of some great ones, and they've helped me produce better books than I possibly could do alone. Every published book you've ever admired has undergone editing. An inability to recognize and accept good editing is a major detriment to any writer's career.

As for not responding to queries, I'm with you there. We've had other discussions about that on this forum, and some people disagree; but I think that even a robo-reply of "Thanks, but it's not for us" is better than nothing.

quicklime
11-15-2011, 07:39 PM
Seun: If an agent were to read the entire manuscript and then ask me to remove 20K words, then yes, I may be reluctant to sign with that agent and simply wait until another responds more favorably. I don’t mean to boast, but I have been over this ms. many times and, in my heart and mind, every line seems critical to the storyline as a whole.

~RA~

understood.

bear in mind that I'm sure you can imagine a literary poseur type, and what do you think THEY feel about THEIR baby--this is sort of like the "how can you be certain you aren't crazy, if the definition of insanity includes being unaware?" thing.....

We're all telling you that from tone and what we've seen thus far, we strongly suspect your stuff would benefit from a beta (as barb, who IS an agent, mentioned, sometimes you need a second opinion).


I get that this isn't what you asked. Understand this is how this board tends to work, however--you asked a question nd you got answers, but you also got answers to unasked side questions, because people are trying to help and help isn't limited on only answering the questions you directly ask. Bear in mind what Seun said had already been said what, a half-dozen times before in this thread? That sort of repeatable hammering at the same idea should give you some pause to consider.

Take it or leave it. Not all agents will respond, that's how it is, for your original post, but if you want more to respond you may want to look at your work and query, as agents who want work tend to invariably respond :tongue. Maybe in the end you will be right, but right now you seem to just be digging your heels in instead of considering. As a whole, that sort of mentality is a huge block to succeeding. And telling an agent who will take you on that your story is too important and every line is too critical is a little like shooting yourself in the foot....repeatedly. word gets around, and there may well not be another "favorable" agent

seun
11-15-2011, 08:07 PM
Seun: If an agent were to read the entire manuscript and then ask me to remove 20K words, then yes, I may be reluctant to sign with that agent and simply wait until another responds more favorably. I donít mean to boast, but I have been over this ms. many times and, in my heart and mind, every line seems critical to the storyline as a whole.

~RA~

More power to you if your ms is of a publishable standard and wouldn't benefit from cuts. I had the same thought about mine until the publisher said they wanted the opening trimmed to get to a certain point sooner. I worked on it, moved some scenes around, lost others and ended up cutting 9,000 words. I also ended up with a vastly improved book which will be published early next year.

The issue here comes from one particular word in the section I quoted.

Seems.

I absolutely believe you that it seems critical. It seems critical to you. That doesn't mean a publisher will see it the same way.

Cyia
11-15-2011, 08:25 PM
If an agent were to read the entire manuscript and then ask me to remove 20K words, then yes, I may be reluctant to sign with that agent and simply wait until another responds more favorably. I donít mean to boast, but I have been over this ms. many times and, in my heart and mind, every line seems critical to the storyline as a whole.

2 things -

1 - you may never get an agent to read the whole thing if the first pages are over-written. Agents don't work that way.

2 - signing with an agent doesn't mean that edits are over. Even if the agent loves every word, exactly where and how it's placed, an editor may suggest slicing off entire sections (or at least trimming them down), and you won't necessarily know the extent of changes until after you've signed the contract and the editor is allowed to "dig in" deep. You're going to have to expect a cumulative 3 - 5 or so rounds of edits between general revision letters and then line edits, then copy edits, etc, etc, etc.

jclarkdawe
11-15-2011, 09:17 PM
I'm not saying I'd recommend all these cuts, but these are all possible.


My feelings are notaren't hurt by harsh criticism. We know what you're talking about. You don't have to repeat it. On the contrary, I welcome it and know full well that it will greatly help me with learning more about the phases of writing and publishing. So keep it cominí; I love it. Repetition. You made your point. Move on. I am very thankful to all of you here in this AW community. We know who you're thanking.

I did, however, scroll back through the thread to read what I had written and was unable to find clear moments that were verbose or where I had rambled onany verbosity or rambling, unless I should have eliminated the use ofyou mean some humor set within parenthesis. (What? No sense of humor?)


Normally I won't edit a post, because it isn't meant to be polished. But because you're not seeing what could be cut, I thought I'd show you rather than telling you. I'm not saying you'd want to make all these cuts, but they're all possible.

My feelings aren't hurt. On the contrary, it will help me learn more about writing. I am thankful to all of you.

I did, however, scroll what I had written and was unable to find any verbosity or rambling, unless you mean some humor set within parenthesis. (What? No sense of humor?)

I took your 102 words and reduced it down to 52. Five minutes or less worth of very minimal effort on my part. And managed to convey every point you made.

Now I'll tell you that I'm much more verbose in a post than in a polished piece of writing. But when I look back at a post, I can see the cuts I should have made.

Best of luck,

Jim Clark-Dawe

CaroGirl
11-15-2011, 09:42 PM
Editing a manuscript for length almost always makes it 99.9% better. It also doesn't mean removing plot or changing the story. It's about making the existing story better, more readable, and more sellable. It's a rare publisher who's willing to acquire an over-long manuscript from a first-time writer.

My advice, if you truly believe you can't trim one word from this book, is to write another, shorter, better book and query that. However, I'd be willing to bet a body part that your novel could be trimmed by 20% right off the bat.

No response from an agent or publisher means no. No response is still very common. Even when you get a rejection, there's often no indication about why you were rejected. The only good it does is to be able to definitively check off the "no" box on your submission spreadsheet before the allotted time runs out.

ReflectiveAcuity
11-15-2011, 10:40 PM
Normally I won't edit a post, because it isn't meant to be polished. But because you're not seeing what could be cut, I thought I'd show you rather than telling you. I'm not saying you'd want to make all these cuts, but they're all possible.

Whoa! You slaughtered it! Ouch! Ė Just kidding, Jim. Actually, pretty good job on your part. Quite frankly, I like mine better, but thatís a matter of opinion. Also bear in mind that my creative writing style used for fiction is very different than that used to post these messages.

waylander
11-15-2011, 10:41 PM
Have you posted any of this work in SYW?
You may find that informative if you truly believe the work cannot be improved

quicklime
11-15-2011, 11:33 PM
Have you posted any of this work in SYW?
You may find that informative if you truly believe the work cannot be improved


this....x1000

reflexive, i am getting a strongly recalcitrant vibe. what do you have to lose in considering?

Karen Junker
11-16-2011, 12:00 AM
To answer your original question: Some agents do not respond at all.

Some agents will state on their website that a 'no response' means a rejection. Some simply do not respond unless they are interested. It's sad, but a common practice.

Chumplet
11-16-2011, 05:23 AM
Many are switching to a no response policy. I don't mind as long as they clearly state it on their website, and at least have an auto-response email showing they received my query. What I hate is not knowing if they ever received it.

rainsmom
11-16-2011, 06:03 AM
My recommendation would be to note each agent's stated response time in the spreadsheet (or whatever) you keep to track submissions. I don't like a no-response-means-no policy, but I accept it as an industry given. Just send those queries and forget about them. You could also choose to put non-responders lower on your priority list and query them only once (or if) you make it through the rest of your prospects.

ReflectiveAcuity
11-16-2011, 10:22 AM
Have you posted any of this work in SYW?
You may find that informative if you truly believe the work cannot be improved

I am not allowed to post on Share Your Work yet. I donít have enough posts. Need 50. But Iím looking forward to it.

Did I say my work canít be improved? I may have said that cutting 30K words from the ms. was not an ideal option for me. But I never said it canít be improved.

wonderactivist
11-16-2011, 10:55 AM
So who else out there is doing what I’m doing? What hundreds-of-query-submissions are literary agencies getting? From people wanting to publish a handful of pages with poetry? (I have met a lot of those) ... Certain literary agencies receive hundreds of queries a day?


Dear RA,

I wanted to answer your main question and offer some encouragement.

Who is submitting?

In our small town (pop. about 40,000), there are 30 active authors that I know through the writers club and working at the bookshop. That's just the adults. Let's figure there are at least 10 more I don't know (or teens writing YA). That makes the math easier -- one in a thousand. Maybe one-fourth of those people will query sometime this year -- 1 in 4,000.

Our town is not known for creativity or arts. It's a farm town with one cinema-plex, two hospitals, and a small military base nearby. All pretty average.

So extrapolate to the population of the United States: 307,006,000 -- and 76, 751 American writers might send queries this year. Of course that leaves out the rest of the world, but for simplicity, let's stick with the Americans. If each of them sends just 15 queries, that's

1,151,265

One million, one hundred fifty one thousand, two hundred sixty five --and that's just queries from Americans. (Someone please remind me where the dashes and commas go--hey, I did the math!)

Okay, that's probably way understated since most people send more than 15 queries, but that's why the agencies are overwhelmed. At the same time, the traditional publishers are streamlining so the agents are having to work harder for each sale.

If you want your book traditionally published, you have to compete with all these people for attention.


The Encouragement:

First off, you finished your books and are willing to reach out and query. That alone puts you in the top quarter of writers.

But more importantly, you came here and started asking questions. After you shake off the initial shock and critique angst, you're on the road to improving both your writing and your marketing skills. That probably lands you in the top ten percent of the 76, 751 who sent queries.

You're only in real competition with about 7,675 writers this year and only one agent has to like your book. You simply have to learn how to make your story and query stand out from the crowd -- to make them exceptional.

So stop worrying about the agents' query etiquette and start preparing your book for market. You've already risen to the top ten percent. You can do it.

Warm regards,

Lucie


PS: and one step of that process might be learning to respect poetry

shaldna
11-16-2011, 01:55 PM
There are many reasons that an agent won't respond. Some agencies have a no repsonse means no thanks policy. This means the agents spend less time responding to queries they aren't intersted in and more time on the ones they are. It also means that they don't get sucked into correspondance with an angry or upset writer (happens more often than you would think)

Do I think it's a good system? Well, yes and no. I understand why it's in place, but I feel that it often leaves the writer hanging. Personally I feel that there should be a time frame, such as 'no response within 6 weeks means no' is better.