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orion_mk3
06-09-2013, 10:13 PM
A very basic question, but one that has been bugging me for a while:

How does one rack up the 100+ rejections that I often read about (usually in the context of "I was rejected 199 times before Agent X was all "heck yeah dawg")?

I'm in the middle of a submission cycle with a newly revised query that went through the crucible of the SYW forum, and combing through AgentQuery and the like I can find a maximum of 36 agents, many of whom are at the same agencies. Unless I re-submit to some of them, it seems impossible to approach the 100+ numbers I see kicking around.

Am I missing something? Do people resubmit with a new query after X amount of time to the same people, or am I missing out on some other source of agents? I want to avoid directly submitting to publishers until I've exhausted the agent route.

K.B. Parker
06-09-2013, 10:16 PM
I'm not the best source for this type of question (I'm not sure If I ever see myself going for a traditional publishing deal), but perhaps those who have 100+ Queries have submitted multiple manuscripts?

SentaHolland
06-09-2013, 10:37 PM
It may depend on how old you are and how many books you have sent out. I believe people who send out 100+ queries try everything, after a while, agents, editors, anyone they can get to. And why not? Some people are successful after all of that, as you say. Good luck and may your road be shorter and less painful!

Chris P
06-09-2013, 11:01 PM
To my understanding, the 100+ queries is for the same book. I'm not too sure how they do it, either. You might want to try using different search criteria. For a previous project, when I searched for "contemporary" and got a totally different set of about 40 agents than the 50 I got for searching under "mainstream." I use Query Tracker, by the way.

For my current project, I get about 200 agents listed for the search criteria I'm using, but I sort by agency then go to their website and query whichever agent I think has the best chance of liking my work. I'm at about 30 queries sent out, and I can see the end of the agency lists, so I'm going to be in your boat eventually. Some agencies will tell you "querying one queries us all" or "do not requery within six months," but most don't. I'm interested in hearing what more experienced people here say about requerying a different agent in the same agency.

Siri Kirpal
06-10-2013, 02:09 AM
Sat Nam! (literally "Truth Name"--a Sikh greeting)

I wouldn't be able to find 100 agents for my current sub-genre (spiritual memoir) either. But it's possible to find well over 100 agents who rep commercial fiction, romance, YA, etc.

There are several places to hunt: Agent Query, querytracker, Writers Digest, aar-online.org, and the blogs for writers conferences.

Blessings,

Siri Kirpal

Aggy B.
06-10-2013, 02:29 AM
I have a list of over 170 agents that I've been querying for The Steampunk Novel. It includes anyone who lists SF or Fantasy among the genres they rep AND some who only list Commercial Fiction, but have clients that write SF/F.

Of that 170, I've queried just over 130, but I haven't gotten over 100 rejections yet, because I'm querying on a rolling basis (so a little less than half of those I've queried haven't gotten around to sending a rejection or a request for more material).

It is important to look for related genres - Mystery, Thriller, Suspense may all describe the same book but one agent may list Thrillers, while another lists Suspense. The best thing to do is A) put them on your query list and B) check out who they rep to see if they seem like they take things similar to what you're querying. (Also, Literary Fiction sometimes includes more genre based work depending on how it's written.)

No one likes hearing "No, thanks," and I'm certainly not in a rush to collect a drawerful of rejections but I would rather query and hear "Not for me" than not query and realize later that I should have.

katci13
06-10-2013, 02:34 AM
It's definitely possible. I think people with 100+ rejections though are counting the non-responses for sure. I sent out 77 queries last time and only got 38 rejections. But for that book, I had over 150 agencies and almost 200 total agents on my list.

zegota
06-10-2013, 02:52 AM
I'm skeptical that there are fewer than 100 agents available for the genre you're writing. Perhaps if you're in a very specific niche, but there are a ton of agents who represent "commercial fiction," which basically means "anything but literary." Doing a simple search on QueryTracker for Commercial Fiction produces 480 agents. Now, certainly, some of those will say things like "I represent commercial fiction except for Fantasy," etc., but that's still a lot. I know for a fact there are more than 100 agents who represent Fantasy and Science Fiction, but if you're writing mystery erotica, you might not be as lucky.

orion_mk3
06-10-2013, 03:35 AM
I'm skeptical that there are fewer than 100 agents available for the genre you're writing.
It's not so much that I was asserting there are fewer than 100 agents. It's more like "I have only been able to find X number of agents and this seems rather low, so tell me what I am doing wrong." :)

And you guys have delivered! Lots of great tips. I had no idea that commercial fiction was such a catchall, and people suggested some resources that I have not used as yet. Thank you, and keep them coming!

Aggy B.
06-10-2013, 05:56 AM
It's not so much that I was asserting there are fewer than 100 agents. It's more like "I have only been able to find X number of agents and this seems rather low, so tell me what I am doing wrong." :)

And you guys have delivered! Lots of great tips. I had no idea that commercial fiction was such a catchall, and people suggested some resources that I have not used as yet. Thank you, and keep them coming!

Yeah. I've noticed lately that people are getting confused about the idea that Genre Fiction is somehow not Commercial. But Commercial is kind of the super-umbrella, with specific genres sitting underneath, then the sub-genres. Literary, of course, is an umbrella by itself. Except for when it is considered Commercial or Genre.

Aggy, mostly just writes and puts labels on after the fact

AshleyEpidemic
06-10-2013, 06:39 AM
Yeah. I've noticed lately that people are getting confused about the idea that Genre Fiction is somehow not Commercial. But Commercial is kind of the super-umbrella, with specific genres sitting underneath, then the sub-genres. Literary, of course, is an umbrella by itself. Except for when it is considered Commercial or Genre.

Aggy, mostly just writes and puts labels on after the fact

I'm a little bit confused now. Even if genre fiction may be commercial that wouldn't mean I would query my fantasy to an agent who reps commercial (and doesn't specify no fantasy). Or are you saying I would?

I'm confused. Someone hold my hand and guide me to the light.

Siri Kirpal
06-10-2013, 07:26 AM
I'm a little bit confused now. Even if genre fiction may be commercial that wouldn't mean I would query my fantasy to an agent who reps commercial (and doesn't specify no fantasy). Or are you saying I would?

I'm confused. Someone hold my hand and guide me to the light.

Sat Nam! (literally "Truth Name"--a Sikh greeting)

Take a look at the agent's client list. If one of those clients writes some brand of fantasy, you could try it. Or if they say, "really anything as long as it's well written," go ahead and query them.

Blessings,

Siri Kirpal

katci13
06-10-2013, 08:43 AM
QueryTracker has a pretty large database. It's not all inclusive, but if you haven't been there, I would definitely have a look.

Drachen Jager
06-10-2013, 09:25 AM
Here are some of the resources I've found.

QueryTracker (http://querytracker.net/)
AgentQuery (http://www.agentquery.com/)
Publisher's Marketplace (http://www.publishersmarketplace.com/)
The AAR website (http://aaronline.org/Find)
The SFWA has a great Agent resource (http://www.sfwa.org/other-resources/for-authors/writer-beware/agents/#Last) as well, with links to other resources and a really good rundown on what to look for, and more importantly what to watch out for. Some of it applies only to SF/F, but most of it is general advice that applies to all writers. I highly recommend anyone starting an agent search read through this page and follow most of the links before sending any queries out.

Chris P
06-10-2013, 02:11 PM
I have a list of over 170 agents that I've been querying for The Steampunk Novel. It includes anyone who lists SF or Fantasy among the genres they rep AND some who only list Commercial Fiction, but have clients that write SF/F.

Of that 170, I've queried just over 130, but I haven't gotten over 100 rejections yet, because I'm querying on a rolling basis (so a little less than half of those I've queried haven't gotten around to sending a rejection or a request for more material).

It is important to look for related genres - Mystery, Thriller, Suspense may all describe the same book but one agent may list Thrillers, while another lists Suspense. The best thing to do is A) put them on your query list and B) check out who they rep to see if they seem like they take things similar to what you're querying. (Also, Literary Fiction sometimes includes more genre based work depending on how it's written.)

Yeah, this seems to be the way things are going for me too. The agents' websites seem to be a lot more broad than I would believe from the drop-down menus in Query Tracker. That's why lately I've only been using it to identify agencies then looking within the agencies' guidelines for the best agents. Often the best agent in the house was not the one Query Tracker put at the top of the search.

Ctairo
06-10-2013, 05:47 PM
Do people resubmit with a new query after X amount of time to the same peopleNot unless they're demented. Agents hate resubmissions for the same project (if Twitter is any indication - which it should be since we're talking agents talking about rewritten queries).

Drachen Jager
06-10-2013, 08:15 PM
Not unless they're demented. Agents hate resubmissions for the same project (if Twitter is any indication - which it should be since we're talking agents talking about rewritten queries).

Several agents have come out on AW and said it's fine to re-query them with a project, so long as you've spent some time (six months minimum) and significantly improved it. Not just an edit for grammar and touch-ups, but deep edits.

mellymel
06-10-2013, 08:38 PM
Can I just ask you what category/genre your MS is?

orion_mk3
06-10-2013, 11:04 PM
Can I just ask you what category/genre your MS is?
It is a historical adventure with science fiction elements, or historical science fiction with adventure elements. The combination of genres seems to have made the entire process of querying rather more tricky than if it were straight up one or the other.

Drachen Jager
06-10-2013, 11:21 PM
It is a historical adventure with science fiction elements, or historical science fiction with adventure elements. The combination of genres seems to have made the entire process of querying rather more tricky than if it were straight up one or the other.

I wouldn't narrow it down to historical. What you're talking about should fit most agents who accept SF/F.

Aggy B.
06-11-2013, 12:18 AM
I'm a little bit confused now. Even if genre fiction may be commercial that wouldn't mean I would query my fantasy to an agent who reps commercial (and doesn't specify no fantasy). Or are you saying I would?

I'm confused. Someone hold my hand and guide me to the light.

Basically, what Siri Kirpal said. Some agents don't specify any genre but simply say "Commercial Fiction". The best thing to do is try and check out who they rep to see if they seem like they'll rep Fantasy or Romance. Some will say "Commercial Fiction" and then say "I especially like a well-written thriller or smart women in sexy romances or whatever."

For instance, Inkwell Management says they represent all genres, but you really have to look closely at the individual bios to figure out who reps what.

Personally, I start with the agents that are clear about their preferences (i.e. the folks at Donald Maass) then work down through the less obvious ones (i.e. Catherine Drayton of InkWell).

JournoWriter
06-11-2013, 02:33 AM
I'm at 100+ queries; rejections about half of that, the others no response. That includes agents and independent publishers.

If you think figuring out the different types of fiction that agents rep is hard, puzzling out the varieties of nonfiction is a beast!

Phaeal
06-11-2013, 09:54 PM
I racked up 281 subs, but I was sending to agents who accept YA, which is a lot of agents these days. As long as they didn't specify they excluded SFF, they probably got a query from me.

:D

peanut
06-12-2013, 12:25 AM
I'm with you, Orion. I can only find about 40 or 50 agents who want Fantasy. That is with querying multiple agents within an agency. When I look at agents who are requesting partials or fulls it's usually for Young Adult.

AshleyEpidemic
06-12-2013, 12:56 AM
I think I may need to expand my horizon to agents who specify commercial


I'm with you, Orion. I can only find about 40 or 50 agents who want Fantasy. That is with querying multiple agents within an agency. When I look at agents who are requesting partials or fulls it's usually for Young Adult.

There are definitely more than 40 or 50 fantasy agents. I have a list of 75 and that doesn't include anyone who doesn't accept web based queries. Even then, the list has been narrowed to only agents with sales in the last year and from what I deem a respectable agency.

Drachen Jager
06-12-2013, 03:18 AM
I'm with you, Orion. I can only find about 40 or 50 agents who want Fantasy. That is with querying multiple agents within an agency. When I look at agents who are requesting partials or fulls it's usually for Young Adult.

QueryTracker lists 168 agents who rep Fantasy. From experience you can find another 40-50 or so if you look.

Not all of them are great agents, of course, but QueryTracker seems to be fairly good at keeping the con artists out.

orion_mk3
06-12-2013, 06:51 PM
I'm with you, Orion. I can only find about 40 or 50 agents who want Fantasy. That is with querying multiple agents within an agency. When I look at agents who are requesting partials or fulls it's usually for Young Adult.
YA is pretty hot right now, it's true; the QueryTracker list is glutted with them. I'd hate to be a YA writer when the bottom inevitably falls out of that market...

That said, I have been using the tips in this thread to expand my query list with some success. Everyone has been pretty helpful!

waylander
06-13-2013, 01:42 AM
I'm with you, Orion. I can only find about 40 or 50 agents who want Fantasy. That is with querying multiple agents within an agency. When I look at agents who are requesting partials or fulls it's usually for Young Adult.

Have you looked at the AW list of SF/F agents? I'm pretty sure there are more than 40/50 agents on it.

Drachen Jager
06-13-2013, 03:04 AM
YA is pretty hot right now, it's true; the QueryTracker list is glutted with them. I'd hate to be a YA writer when the bottom inevitably falls out of that market...

Why inevitable?

I mean, other than in the sense that the collapse of any given market is inevitable given a long enough timeline.

And, you know, if someone had successfully published several YA books and decided to transition to a different market they'd have a significant leg up over those who had never published at all.

Or is your point more that you feel neglected because yours isn't the hot market segment right now?

orion_mk3
06-13-2013, 06:29 PM
Why inevitable?

I mean, other than in the sense that the collapse of any given market is inevitable given a long enough timeline.

And, you know, if someone had successfully published several YA books and decided to transition to a different market they'd have a significant leg up over those who had never published at all.

Or is your point more that you feel neglected because yours isn't the hot market segment right now?
All of the above!

wampuscat
06-13-2013, 07:35 PM
Here are some of the resources I've found.

QueryTracker (http://querytracker.net/)
AgentQuery (http://www.agentquery.com/)
Publisher's Marketplace (http://www.publishersmarketplace.com/)
The AAR website (http://aaronline.org/Find)
The SFWA has a great Agent resource (http://www.sfwa.org/other-resources/for-authors/writer-beware/agents/#Last) as well, with links to other resources and a really good rundown on what to look for, and more importantly what to watch out for. Some of it applies only to SF/F, but most of it is general advice that applies to all writers. I highly recommend anyone starting an agent search read through this page and follow most of the links before sending any queries out.

This.

Also, find out who the agents are for the books and authors you love. A lot of authors thank their agents in the acknowledgements. (Or you can Google it.)
Follow agent blogs.
Follow agents on Twitter.
SCBWI members can download "The Book," which contains an agent directory.
I'm pretty sure RWA has an agent directory as well.

JulianneQJohnson
06-13-2013, 07:43 PM
I have racked up around 100 queries for my current book. I started with agents who seemed especially interested in my genre, then branched out to agents looking for commercial, and agents who don't specifically say "no thrillers." I count "no response" as a rejection, after a reasonable amount of time.

As others have said, Query tracker is great, but it isn't the only source. I started with The Guide To Literary Agents, but if you use that, make sure you look up each agent here on AW, because some of their listed agents are borderline scam agents. Also check the agent's website for more up to date genres accepted and submission guidelines.

Krazykat
06-13-2013, 11:19 PM
To be honest, I find the assertion—which comes up frequently here—that anyone should be able to find 100+ agents to query a bit annoying. From what I've seen, that's just not realistic for every genre. (And no offense to anyone, but there appears to be a stubborn tendency here to ignore that!)

I have used all of the references mentioned here (and AW is certainly the best resource for finding out what all those resources are:)), and I don't see how anyone could find more than 60-70 reputable agents who rep adult SF.

Everyone says: 'Just look at how many come up when you search for agents who rep SF/Fantasy on QueryTracker or AgentQuery.' That's absolutely true, but when you actually go to the agency websites and find out what they're looking for, you'll subtract far more potential agents than you'll be able to add from any other source. So the real number is actually much lower than it appears. This is because a large percentage of agents show up in that category because they represent YA only in those genres. (Or they might show up on the list just because they'll consider urban fantasy, especially if it includes romance.)

If you are querying SF that's not targeted to the YA audience, the only way I can see that you could get close to a hundred agents would be to try those who simply say they rep 'commercial', as some have suggested here. But that would mean sending the kind of queries where you're pretty much shooting in the dark.

And of course there would be no way to personalize those queries, because you have no information telling you why this agent might be interested in your book, other than that they rep fiction in general and they don't specifically exclude speculative fiction. (And a great many of the agents who rep mainstream or commercial fiction do make that exclusion very clear.)

So I think we need to be careful not to perpetuate the myth that everyone should be able to find that many agents to query, without taking genre into consideration. Of course if we're talking YA or romance, sure—you probably won't have any trouble coming up with a list that goes into three figures. With other genres—you're really going to be scraping the bottom of the barrel to get there.

Aggy B.
06-14-2013, 05:40 AM
And of course there would be no way to personalize those queries, because you have no information telling you why this agent might be interested in your book, other than that they rep fiction in general and they don't specifically exclude speculative fiction.

Unless, you know, you look at who they rep and the books they've sold in the past.

I'm not saying that every SF or F book will be right for every agent, but it's not impossible to make an educated guess at who might like it. Even if spec-fic is not their specialty.

orion_mk3
06-14-2013, 09:08 PM
So I think we need to be careful not to perpetuate the myth that everyone should be able to find that many agents to query, without taking genre into consideration. Of course if we're talking YA or romance, sure—you probably won't have any trouble coming up with a list that goes into three figures. With other genres—you're really going to be scraping the bottom of the barrel to get there.
This was the central crux of my original post. People have been quite helpful in getting me out of the 25-35 agent doldrums, but looking at the numbers suggests that you may be right outside of the perpetually large Romance and currently hot YA areas.

But then again, I'm still querying at a rate of roughly one a day. There's a ways to go yet before I hit another wall.

nkkingston
06-15-2013, 07:50 PM
Is it much more common to query a ton of agents before you get an offer compared with querying publishers-who-take-unagented-queries?

I ask because if I got 100+ rejections for the sort of fiction I write (heck, if I got 15+), the market for which tends towards epubs, I'd assume there was something wrong with my writing, or at least my query. Agents obviously take on significantly fewer books than publishers, so I guess there's a much higher chance of "not taking anyone on" or "just acquired something too similar", but the really high numbers people seem to take as a matter of course with agent subs surprises me. It must be so gruelling.

ETA: I hope I don' come across as disrespecting my fellow writers here; the high numbers just really took me by surprise. As someone who's yet to get to agent queries, I'd always assumed it was similar to direct to publisher. Though there are hundreds of publishers in my genre, there's only fifteen or so I'd want to be published by.

orion_mk3
06-15-2013, 09:26 PM
I ask because if I got 100+ rejections for the sort of fiction I write (heck, if I got 15+), the market for which tends towards epubs, I'd assume there was something wrong with my writing, or at least my query.
My impression, and what I assume others have done, has been to revise the query organically as time goes on.

There are enough success stories of people who have passed through 100+ agents before finding one that I think in most cases the rejection rate is just really high and the process grueling. But feel free to correct me.

Aggy B.
06-16-2013, 12:29 AM
I think the usual "figure" thrown around for a successful query is one that gets a positive response 1 out of 10 times. Of course, some folks write more intriguing queries and get a much higher response.

Also, unlike with most publishers, when querying agents one should query multiple agents at a time. So the number grows much faster than when submitting directly to publishers (who may or may not allow simultaneous submissions).

I've been querying in batches (usually 3-10 queries at a time) every week since the beginning of December so the numbers are starting to add up. I started with the folks who were obviously "a good fit" and have worked my way towards the less obvious ones.

I could go with smaller groups, waiting for a response from each one before sending out the next, but since I've recently had one full request roll in (from the query letter) at the four month mark, I prefer to keep querying until I get an offer.

ETA: It would be great if it didn't take so many queries and there's nothing about having made X number of queries or having received Y number of rejections that makes one person's approach better than another. I just feel, personally, that it's better to keep asking until I get a "Yes, I love it!" than to wait until I'm certain all the current letters are "Not for me". Even if, in the end, I wind up with one of the first people I queried.

Debbie V
06-18-2013, 01:46 AM
My impression, and what I assume others have done, has been to revise the query organically as time goes on.


This. It's a numbers game and if the query isn't getting partial requests, you revise the query. If the partials aren't getting full requests, revise the manuscript. Deciding how many to send before revising is the hard part. A ten percent success rate may be good for some where others look for five percent.