View Full Version : How many rejections does it take to know your query sucks?

01-08-2013, 05:24 AM
I've been using roughly the same letter at 15 agents now, with only one bite. Is it time to change the query? Is that one bite a fluke?

I had the query critiqued here and took one that met overall approval, and that's the one what got the bite. But I just thought it'd be good to know when to go back to the critiquing process again with it.

01-08-2013, 06:14 AM
Actually, you're doing pretty well. Sadly, you need to query more than 15 to know, but we usually say that a 10% request rate is doing pretty well. It's hard to know if you're within that range or not, but having one out of fifteen isn't bad.

It also depends on other various factors. Are all the agents you're querying people who you think are super awesome perfect fits, or are you being a little more lenient with your decision of who to send to? Does the book fall into an unusual genre or niche? Does it fall outside of normal parameters (too long, too short)? All those things can influence it, too, besides just how good your letter is.

I'd say not to panic yet, though. If you send twenty or thirty and still have only one request, then that's not a very good sign.

ETA to add: Also, are you including sample pages? I've found that my request rate was higher when I included my first five pages.

01-08-2013, 06:32 AM
I follow the agents' guidelines and many of them have asked for synopses and pages, the vast majority I'd say. So not sure what to make of that.

I've been submitting those who take Sci-fi, or even better, YA SF because the characters in the novel are very young and in critiques here it was suggested that pitching it YA might be suitable. The topic is very adult though, so it'd be a gritty YA and that might turn some agents off (human trafficking, exploitation, forced prostitution of young teens). The one agent who bit on it has an interest in medicine, I think, and the novel has a focus on scientific experiments (think Secret of NIMH-like).

Because of the topic I try to pitch to women who take SF, but I'm not sure how good I am at ID'ing how suited each is. :Shrug:

I haven't given up on this query yet. Just sent two more out. One of them maybe a great fit. She likes dystopian and dark YA as well as SF. Sounds good to me! But I've had agents who I thought were a great fit reject me before so I'm not holding much hope.

01-08-2013, 06:46 AM
Just speaking personally, if I was only getting a query return rate of one out of fifteen, I would also be concerned. It might be that these particular agents might just have low request rates overall and that's something you can check with a site like querytracker. Or it could be that your query isn't presenting itself the way you want it to.

"human trafficking, exploitation, forced prostitution of young teens" --- this might also be your problem. Agents are people, too. Some of them might not want to represent books that include certain topics, simply because they find them distasteful or difficult to handle well.

Without seeing your query, I can't tell you what I think the problem is. But I don't think reevaluating is a bad idea.

01-08-2013, 06:49 AM
Don't disregard men, either, though. I tend to like books that are about "guy" topics, so it's possible that a guy might really enjoy a topic that you wouldn't expect.

As for calling it YA or SF, might as well do both. If the agent doesn't do YA, you can pitch it as SF. If so, you can pitch it as YA. It sounds like you're on the border and it could be either. I had a similar book that I referred to in a couple of different ways depending on who I was pitching to. And my agent pitched it as something completely different entirely lol.

I think it's always hard to know who is a good fit and who isn't, isn't it? We just don't have enough information. I followed an agent for a couple of years before I submitted to her and thought she'd be a great fit, but I'd been reading her blog for so long I had a decent idea of the kind of things she really liked. It's just impossible to do that level of research with every agent out there. Especially those without a web presence.

01-08-2013, 08:16 AM
I think it's too early to know, to be honest. You might have just hit a group of agents who aren't looking for that type of novel, have full lists, already have that type of novel, etc etc etc.

Don't limit yourself to just women. Men agents might be into your book, too!

01-08-2013, 08:30 AM
Yeah, I'd pitch to the SF and the YA crowd of agents out there. And, we had some pretty dark YA books hit the lists. The Hunger Games is no slouch when it come to edgy and horrific topics-themes.


01-08-2013, 08:49 AM
Yes, that's what I've heard! (Dark, edgy YA). I was excited to hear others think it had potential to be marketed that way. Especially since it's become such a lucrative and huge market.

I have tried men too, but I'll make an effort to be gender-blind in the future. No sense in limiting myself.

It's definitely SF though, takes place on Mars. So if an agent doesn't take SF, I don't sub.

I know I should join Twitter to spy on agents, (the correct term is "follow," right?), try to get to know them better...but I've resisted Twitter as if joining it is like selling my soul. The last thing I need is a social media website addiction driving me more crazy during my (copious) free time and unlimited Internet access at work. I'd get myself fired faster than you could say "Unemployment and brand new car repo-ed." Other than that it's a great idea and I'd love to do it! Twitter all the way...:D

01-08-2013, 09:48 AM
I know a lot of people will say otherwise, but I don't think you really need twitter. I'm not a fan myself. Mostly, though, I queried widely and my querying was based on what they represented and their sales. That information is available in enough places that I didn't really see the need.

I did keep up on Query Tracker, though. That sight was addictive.

01-08-2013, 07:54 PM
You don't have to have a Twitter account yourself to view public Tweets. So, that's an option. That said, I am on Twitter, I love it, but I don't follow agents I'm querying. It's good for updates on when queries are read, etc, but it can drive you bonkers.