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Dennis E. Taylor
01-17-2016, 10:57 PM
Scenario: Your agent has submitted your MS to 13 editors across the Big Five.

In general, how many acceptances are you likely to get? Is it, for instance, possible for all of them except one to reject the sub? Are you likely to get several competing offers?

I understand that this is a general question, depends on the genre and the individual MS, and responses can vary all over the place, but my real question is: "how much all over the place?" At what point, when the rejections are coming in, do you start to feel rejection dejection?

For the record, we've gotten 5 rejections so far out of 13, so I'm probably being a snowflake.

Cyia
01-17-2016, 11:00 PM
There's absolutely no way to know. It's going to depend on the MS, the market, the timing, and whether or not the editors click with the piece and/or have space on their lists.

Toothpaste
01-17-2016, 11:10 PM
I've only gone to auction once (which means there was more than one pub interested in my work). Every other time it's been one yes and the rest no.

It's really subjective and based on the piece. I will say that getting multiple offers is a BIG deal and something every author gets very excited about. So with that in mind, I'd say getting multiple offers is rarer than getting just one since if it happened frequently people wouldn't be quite as excited by it. The important thing to remember is if you only get one offer that doesn't mean the book has less of a chance or is less likely to be universally loved. There are so many reasons why a publisher rejects a MS, and several of of them have little to do with how much they like the book itself (a book similar to yours might have just been acquired, they are looking for a different genre at present etc.).

Dennis E. Taylor
01-17-2016, 11:32 PM
Yeah, that's kind of what I thought, intellectually. Much harder to believe it in your gut, though. So, less than halfway through, I should just give myself a slap.

Toothpaste
01-18-2016, 12:50 AM
The thing is, Angry Guy, no one can predict what will happen. And you know that. Many people have found luck with their very first round of submissions, I myself have on several occasions. But just as many if not more find that it takes many many rounds. Sometimes it can take over a year to place a work. And sometimes, I'm sorry to say, but a work never sells (I mean, never say never, but I currently have two novels that were rejected across the board. Someday I might try a new round of subbing, but it's not worth it right now when everyone has just said no). It's so exciting when your work goes out on submission, also nerve wracking. And if there is any way, any at all, to get your mind off of it even for a little bit I highly recommend it. If you can start on a new book, if you can almost pretend like you don't have something on sub in the first place, it'll keep you saner :) . It's hard to do, but I have found over time with this experience that I am able to just let the submission do its thing while I focus on the next. Maybe it's because I have had books that everyone has rejected so I know what that feels like and that it isn't the end of the world. That you can still have a work published even if this particular one isn't. We put so much stock into that first novel, the one that gets us the agent, the one that goes on sub. It's a truly funny feeling when you've been at it for a while and realise that you have more books in you, that not every book is the same or does as well. Now this isn't to diminish getting that publishing deal, believe you me that when it happens it is one of the best feelings in the world. Second only I suppose to holding your very own published book in your hands.

My point, I guess, is to tell you that everyone freaks out when their work goes on submission, but if you can try not to obsess over every little detail, try not to predict things, or guess how things might go, it is far better on one's sanity :) . Easier to say than do. That much I know. From personal experience.

(here's hoping for a quick sale and then all the above will be moot)

jjdebenedictis
01-18-2016, 01:31 AM
The one book I've had on submission, there were no offers on, although one nibble got close before being rejected by someone higher up the food chain than the editor who was interested. :-/

There's no guarantees, but if you've got an agent who believes in the book, your chances are good. It may still take the agent a year or two to get to an offer, however, so try to pretend it's not happening and just concentrate on writing your next book. (Sooooooo much easier said than done, though, right? :) )

Punkin
01-18-2016, 01:48 AM
Depends on your track record. If your previous ten books sold millions, you will likely have multiple offers.

If this is your first or second book, don't get your hopes up.

lizmonster
01-18-2016, 02:09 AM
I've heard of sub times from a few weeks to well over a year that have resulted in sales to major publishers. Publishing can be really, really slow. It seems calendar time doesn't imply anything one way or another.

If you're worried, Angry Guy, talk to your agent. They're there, in part, to help you understand the process, and what's normal. (My agent has never been anything other than professional and reassuring when I run to her with questions, even the ones I think are silly.)

And good luck! It's a nail-biting time, for sure. :)

Toothpaste
01-18-2016, 02:30 AM
Depends on your track record. If your previous ten books sold millions, you will likely have multiple offers.

If this is your first or second book, don't get your hopes up.

Not true. Many first time authors go to auction. In fact being a debut author is seen as a huge bonus in the publishing world. No bad track record, you are fresh, exciting. A fantastic book written in a trendy genre? Publishers will be climbing over each other to get to it. My first book went to auction for example. I still don't think one ought to anticipate an auction, but the idea that as a debut author you shouldn't expect one is totally false.

Punkin
01-18-2016, 02:33 AM
Yes, it happens, Tooth. This is why I don't speak in absolutes.

But multiple offers do not an auction make, and no beginner should expect it.

Toothpaste
01-18-2016, 02:36 AM
Yes, it happens, Tooth. This is why I don't speak in absolutes.

But multiple offers do not an auction make, and no beginner should expect it.

It's Toothpaste, Tooth is my second cousin once removed ;)

No author of any stripe really ought to expect anything. I mean, aside from decent professional treatment. Multiple offers do not an auction make, but nonetheless I know many first time authors (including myself) who did go to auction. Your claim that unless you are a huge bestselling author you shouldn't expect it, is false in my opinion. I know you weren't speaking in absolutes, but you definitely came across saying that first time authors rarely go to auction. And I disagree. I think they go to auction more often than midlist authors do. And I think especially in the very popular categories like YA, it has become downright common to see a battle over a debut author's work.

Of course this oughtn't mean anything, and no author should go along thinking smugly, "My book is going to go to auction and sell for 7 figures!" But the idea that new authors face a harder road than others is a false narrative that I think makes new authors scared to try. New authors are actually in high demand. And that's my point.

phantasy
01-18-2016, 03:04 AM
Interesting thread!

So if all of the publishers reject your MS, what do you do? Self pub, or try again next year?

Or write a new book, hope that ones gets sold, and then try to sell your old ms again?

CEtchison
01-18-2016, 03:20 AM
For the record, we've gotten 5 rejections so far out of 13, so I'm probably being a snowflake.

But those eight you have yet to hear from could be all the difference.

I was fortunate enough to receive multiple offers for my debut, three of which were from Big Five pubs and one from a well-established independent. I don't know exactly where or how many editors my agent submitted to (I didn't want to know) but I do know two imprints had passed before I received my first offer. Once my agent notified the other editors of an offer on the table, three more quickly followed, along with several more passes because it was similar to something on their list, they just didn't like it, they didn't think it was print worthy, they didn't know how to market it, etc. etc. etc. And there was that one editor that went radio silent. ::shrugs::

Add them all up and I had a bunch of rejections too. The difference is mine all came in the span of a week. There was no auction. Instead it was like selling a house, where editors presented their best offer. And of those four, only one had advance money. Despite the lack of upfront money, I had the luxury of choosing my publisher. My agent and I created a list of pros and cons regarding print runs, marketing, cover art, royalty rates, who we thought could do the best job of launching a debut author, etc.

So there may be more writers who get multiple offers out there, but it doesn't get the attention of those seven-figure deals because the offers aren't any different than if they were the only offer.

Keep your head up and best of luck with the remaining submissions.

Punkin
01-18-2016, 03:43 AM
Thirteen submissions? Why stop there? At minimum (unless you write medieval German Haiku) you've got dozens of fine prospects out there. Maybe hundreds.

Toothpaste
01-18-2016, 05:11 AM
True Punkin, but generally a good agent begins with about that many top choices and then moves on from there with each new round of submissions. As I am sure you are well aware, an agent doesn't submit willy nilly but is in touch with each editor to whom they are submitting, making sure the submission is welcome in the first place. It makes sense then that an agent would choose her top bets for that particular project and then carry on from there. Basically my point is an agent carefully curates her list of editors for each project and chooses editors she thinks is right for it, she doesn't just blindly sub to hundreds of publishers. In time if the book isn't accepted in the first few rounds yes it is very possible for a book to be submitted to, I wouldn't say hundreds, but possibly dozens of good reputable publishers of various sizes. I have had a few of my books definitely go many many rounds before finding a home (and sometimes, alas not finding one at all).

I am curious, you said elsewhere you had 42 deals and yet you seem to have a very different experience of publishing compared with many on the board. You bio doesn't say where you are from, maybe that's making the difference. I for my part am speaking of my experience with UK and North American agents.

blacbird
01-18-2016, 06:07 AM
Somewhere between zero and thirteen.

Seriously. There's really no point in agonizing about such a question. What will happen will happen, and ain't a damn thing you, dear author, can do about it.

caw

Punkin
01-18-2016, 06:17 AM
I second that motion, blacbird.

Punkin
01-18-2016, 06:19 AM
Toothpaste, any agent worth having, will personally know dozens of editors who handle your genre. If not, he shouldn't take on your project. What would be the point of waiting?

AW Admin
01-18-2016, 06:45 AM
Punkin, I am going to suggest that you take this opportunity to post less and read more until you get some bearings.

Because you have completely misinterpreted your audience, and you've done it so badly that I suspect you're textually tone deaf.

So far you've dismissed a literary agent, multiple exceedingly well-published authors, and two acquiring editors for Big 5 houses.

And done it while spouting absolute nonsense.

Jamesaritchie
01-18-2016, 07:11 AM
Scenario: Your agent has submitted your MS to 13 editors across the Big Five.

In general, how many acceptances are you likely to get? Is it, for instance, possible for all of them except one to reject the sub? Are you likely to get several competing offers?

I understand that this is a general question, depends on the genre and the individual MS, and responses can vary all over the place, but my real question is: "how much all over the place?" At what point, when the rejections are coming in, do you start to feel rejection dejection?

For the record, we've gotten 5 rejections so far out of 13, so I'm probably being a snowflake.

You aren't likely to get any. Most novels agents submit to publishers do not sell. But it matters who your agent is. Some agents are a heck of a lot better than others, draw far more attention for publishers than others, and are very, very careful about what the manuscripts they take on.

But every agent submits novel to all the big publishers. If being accepted were the norm, every writer with an agent would be a published writer. This obviously is not the case.

Jamesaritchie
01-18-2016, 07:14 AM
Interesting thread!

So if all of the publishers reject your MS, what do you do? Self pub, or try again next year?

Or write a new book, hope that ones gets sold, and then try to sell your old ms again?

You keep submitting elsewhere, and if you really want to succeed, you already have a second novel ready to go long before you run out of places to submit the first one. And a third one ready to go long before either of the first two is done, for that matter. You don't try again next year, you try again tomorrow.

Jamesaritchie
01-18-2016, 07:15 AM
Not true. Many first time authors go to auction. In fact being a debut author is seen as a huge bonus in the publishing world. No bad track record, you are fresh, exciting. A fantastic book written in a trendy genre? Publishers will be climbing over each other to get to it. My first book went to auction for example. I still don't think one ought to anticipate an auction, but the idea that as a debut author you shouldn't expect one is totally false.

Define "many". It's fewer than one in fifteen thousand at the publishers I deal with.

Jamesaritchie
01-18-2016, 07:17 AM
Depends on your track record. If your previous ten books sold millions, you will likely have multiple offers.

If this is your first or second book, don't get your hopes up.

If your previous books sold millions, you there will be no multiple offers. You already have a contract, and submission is just a formality.

Toothpaste
01-18-2016, 07:28 AM
Toothpaste, any agent worth having, will personally know dozens of editors who handle your genre. If not, he shouldn't take on your project. What would be the point of waiting?

What the devil are you going on about? I mean seriously, what? I said that an agent begins with their top choices and then continues from there with multiple rounds of submissions often, as I said above, winding up submitting to dozens of editors. At this point I think it's best not to engage with you as you clearly aren't reading my posts, and that clearly and quite frankly you don't seem to know what you are talking about and are more interested in spreading misinformation to show off than to actually help others.

Toothpaste
01-18-2016, 07:38 AM
Define "many". It's fewer than one in fifteen thousand at the publishers I deal with.

I don't know James, not the majority of course. But several. How about that? How about several debut authors every year go to auction, and it is far more common for a debut to do so than a midlist author. I would also say you find a heck of a lot of auctions relative to other genres in YA. And so someone coming along and claiming that debut will not go to auction is downright wrong.

But I'm curious about your figure, can you link to where you get those numbers from? It would be nice to have the actual number at hand in general.

Cyia
01-18-2016, 07:52 AM
A good number of YA debuts go to auctions. Of the ones that don't, several are preempts.

But here's the catch, "auction" is not code for super-stupendous, lottery-sized paycheck. A book can go to auction and still be in the "nice" sale category. It can go to auction and be in the four-figure range. All an auction means is that more than one publisher is interested in the book. Even with a preempt, there's no guarantee that you're talking big money. All it means is that a publisher offers more than you and your agent think you'll get if the book went to auction. Then you pull it off the table and sell.

I've had one preempt, one auction, and one regular sale. (1st book, 2nd book, and 3rd book respectively). In each case, a dozen or so is about the size of the editor-submission-pool in question. Each submission resulted in wildly different submission windows (meaning hours in one case, months in another), and one involved a massive rewrite. Each sale was to a different house, with the choice of each being based on several factors.

No two sales are alike, no matter the author. There are always details and variables, and each of them has an impact on the outcome.

Roxxsmom
01-18-2016, 08:11 AM
Thirteen submissions? Why stop there? At minimum (unless you write medieval German Haiku) you've got dozens of fine prospects out there. Maybe hundreds.

Actually, in speculative fiction (which is hardly medieval German Haiku) there are 44 novel markets approved by the SFWA for membership (http://www.sfwa.org/about/join-us/sfwa-membership-requirements/#novels) (they require certain terms, such as advances of a certain size or above and royalties at or above a certain percentage). Not all take all subgenres within the larger umbrella. So an agent being able to make dozens (more than a couple dozen, anyway), let alone hundreds, of submissions seems unlikely in that genre. Maybe if you include presses that don't pay advances (or only minuscule advances) there would be many dozens or hundreds.

I can't speak for other genres, of course. Maybe some have far more high paying imprints, or they are less partitioned into specialty imprints the way SF and F tend to be.

Punkin
01-18-2016, 09:37 AM
I just don't see any point in waiting, Toothpaste. If you know 100 prospects, pitch 100 prospects. What are you saving it for?

Punkin
01-18-2016, 09:40 AM
Actually, in speculative fiction (which is hardly medieval German Haiku) there are 44 novel markets approved by the SFWA for membership (http://www.sfwa.org/about/join-us/sfwa-membership-requirements/#novels)

I agree with you, Roxxsmom. Many fish in the sea. But notwithstanding the virtue of any particular publisher, not every author merits a dream deal.

cornflake
01-18-2016, 09:44 AM
I just don't see any point in waiting, Toothpaste. If you know 100 prospects, pitch 100 prospects. What are you saving it for?

Uhm, because if you know 100 editors, they're not all going to be interested in the same thing, have openings for the same thing, work at houses you feel would be best for the thing, and, in addition, why would you send to 100 at once?

Same reason you don't query all 100 agents on your list at once either. You do it in batches. What if you send one batch and five people all say it's good but what'd really be great is to do X? Then it's good you didn't send out all 100.

Also, if you know 100 editors, and send them all what you have, every time you have something, they'll soon stop taking your calls and trash your emails upon receipt.

Roxxsmom
01-18-2016, 10:09 AM
I agree with you, Roxxsmom. Many fish in the sea. But notwithstanding the virtue of any particular publisher, not every author merits a dream deal.

Actually, my point is that there are fewer large fish in the sea, at least in some genres, than you seem to think.

An agent puts an enormous amount of time and energy into their clients' manuscripts, getting them ready for submission and the actual process itself. They're probably going to focus on markets that are the best matches for the particular book and ones that pay professional advances and royalties, not presses that will earn them a tiny trickle of royalties at most.

I'd imagine that an agent who hits every editor they know of with every manuscript they have, regardless of what subgenres that editor works with and their current wishes and interests, wouldn't be taken terribly seriously by those editors.

Oh, look, another submission package from Sue. I wonder if it will be another Steampunk novel (even though I don't handle steampunk), or will it be another 200,000 word doorstop (even though this imprint doesn't handle anything longer than 130,000 words)?

As for meriting a dream deal. Isn't this at least partially about luck and timing? A good agent isn't going to pick up a manuscript they think lacks the potential to be popular, but even the best of them don't have a crystal ball.

AW Admin
01-18-2016, 10:16 AM
Punkin has left the building.

phantasy
01-18-2016, 05:59 PM
You keep submitting elsewhere, and if you really want to succeed, you already have a second novel ready to go long before you run out of places to submit the first one. And a third one ready to go long before either of the first two is done, for that matter. You don't try again next year, you try again tomorrow.

Wait, so at no point does a MS run into never being accepted by a publisher? Sorry, can you or someone clarify? This answer was a tad vague.

eqb
01-18-2016, 06:17 PM
It's possible that your first novel gets rejected all around, but your second novel sells. At that point, the publisher might consider publishing novel #1. Why? Because sometimes the novel you write first would not make a good debut novel for the author, but it might do better as your second or third published book.

phantasy
01-18-2016, 09:21 PM
Thanks, eqb!