View Full Version : What if querying agents does not work?

11-23-2014, 07:52 PM
Quick question for everyone:

If someone is not getting luck looking for an agent, what is the best next step? Submitting directly to the publishers house, or to self-publish?


11-23-2014, 07:55 PM
Put it aside; write another; pitch that.

11-23-2014, 07:59 PM
Ken, what do you mean 'write another'? Write another novel or query letter?


11-23-2014, 07:59 PM
Take a good look at your query and first pages. Get some great CPs to tell you what works and what doesn't.

Both could be vetted here in Share Your Work. The peeps here give excellent advice.

11-23-2014, 08:00 PM
There are a lot of factors that go into whether an agent rejects a query. Could be the query. Could be the partial. Could be the wrong time. Hard to say what the next step for your book is.

11-23-2014, 08:02 PM
I'm going to agree with Ken, too. Writing another book is also a good option. Sometimes the first one out isn't the one that nabs the agent's attention.

(It was the third book for me.)

11-23-2014, 09:08 PM
Good advice, but something needs to change. A better query, a better novel. We all have weaknesses. Writing another doesn't mean you automatically get better. Post your query here, join a writing group, find betas, volunteer as a beta for someone else.

Networking is the fastest way to improve yourself.

Put it aside; write another; pitch that.

11-23-2014, 10:15 PM
Yep. Another book.

TKO has a point. Another novel won't, necessarily, be better. Only one way to find out for sure.

Re: the query. IF you got requests and had your ms read by agents then it's the ms. BUT if you didn't get requests, or just one or two, then it --could-- be the query. In that case revisit it and try again. My two cents.

Whatever you do, though, don't wait too long to start another manuscript. That's what writing is all about. You increase your odds and hopefully improve with each successive one. G'luck.

Old Hack
11-23-2014, 10:29 PM
To echo what's already been said, if your query has been sent out to a lot of good agents who are actively looking for work in your genre, and you've not received any partial or full requests, then your query needs work.

If you've had those partial and full requests but still haven't found representation then it's likely your book needs work, or that you've been very unlucky with timing.

Remember that most writers don't find representation for their first, second, third or fourth books: it takes time to learn your craft and get your skills up to speed.

By all means self publish if you're determined that it's the way you want to go: but don't assume it's the best thing to do with a book which has been roundly rejected. Often, not publishing it at all is the best thing to do in that situation.

11-23-2014, 11:45 PM
I had trouble finding an agent for a while. I found it easier to get in with some indie publishers that don't require agents. As each book got published, I would query agents with the next one. It wasn't until I wrote my fifth book that I finally got an offer of rep. I self published once, but the book wasn't up to the standards of my other books and it didn't sell.

11-24-2014, 02:26 AM
I agree that the next step is definitely to keep working on the next manuscript. Always have something else you're working on as another opportunity and as a way to build your skills.

That being said, for the current manuscript, I think it depends on the reason the agent search didn't work out. Evaluate the feedback you got, if you got any. (And if you didn't get any, that can also be a sign.) If the manuscript needs work, decide if you want to work on it again. (In the meantime, write something new!) If it's a matter of the manuscript simply not having a broad commercial appeal, it might be that it's better suited for small presses or self-publishing. Which you decide to go with depends on your goals and how much you want to take on the editing, marketing, etc, of publishing your manuscript.

Not securing an agent for a manuscript doesn't necessarily mean that the manuscript is unpublishable. There are so many factors that go into it. But I think it takes writing and querying a few before you can have a better feel for if it's your writing that needs work or that the market you've been trying to place your work in isn't suitable for it.

11-24-2014, 02:35 AM
Quick question for everyone:

If someone is not getting luck looking for an agent, what is the best next step? Submitting directly to the publishers house, or to self-publish?

As others have said, it depends on why you have not secured agent representation for this novel.

1. It might be the query letter. Run your query letter through Share Your Work.

2. It might be the opening pages. Run your opening pages through Share Your Work.

3. It might be that the manuscript is just not well-written enough to be considered publishable. See #2. Be aware that most authors have written a million words and/or several novels before they write something good enough that an agent/publisher would consider it.

4. It might be that you've targeted the wrong agents and/or classified your book in the wrong genre. See #1.

5. It might be that your book is too niche-market to be marketable to big presses (most agents aren't interested in books that will only fit in with small niche presses).

11-24-2014, 04:22 AM
At 69 posts, my first thoughts are you may want to

1) Participate more here
2) sub in query letter hell
3) critique in qlh as well

11-24-2014, 04:25 AM
Also worth noting: subbing directly to publishers means a bigger slush pile and not much else-- if you arent drawing interest from agents the odds are pretty good you wont with publishrs either, you will just get to wait far, far longer for the rejections

11-24-2014, 03:18 PM

At 69 posts, my first thoughts are you may want to

1) Participate more here
2) sub in query letter hell
3) critique in qlh as well

11-24-2014, 03:38 PM
Before you rush in to small publishers or self publishing, think about this: why did you decide to pursue an agent and the so-called 'traditional' method first? Think about your goals and what you're trying to accomplish. Self-publishing may be the right choice for you. Even if it is, however, self-publishing this book may not be the right choice at this time.

Also, before you change directions, what does 'querying agents does not work' mean? How many agents have you tried? What sort of responses are you getting? How long have you been at it? For many published writers, the road to publication is littered with hundreds of rejections, often on multiple novels. And there may be good reasons for these rejections.

I don't mean to sound like "Joyless Jeffo" here--I actually try to be an encouraging kind of guy--but you really need to examine your goals AND your work before you change gears and go for self-publishing or small-publisher. It is not an automatic road to agents and 'Big Five.'

Good luck!

11-24-2014, 05:26 PM
Agree w/ posters who suggest critting, putting the ql up in SYW, etc.

And I agree with posters who suggest starting something else.

The indie pub route, I know, consensus seems to be, don't go there until you have exhausted that agent pool. My case, agent pool is getting shallow but not exhausted. The indie pubs I submitted to were more receptive to my book, talking % who requested the full. Who are currently considering the full.

It's a difficult book, quite possibly a niche book. I have to find that niche and that may be the issue with your book. Maybe not. Your query needs to be solid. As does your novel. As does your writing. That's not taking into account all the other variables, some of which have been mentioned here.

Be patient, do the work, learn as much as you can, participate here, read as much as you can, and keep writing.