View Full Version : When do you stop?

04-14-2008, 11:31 PM
When do you stop sending out queries and proposals? Say several agents have requested that you send them your stuff, do you still keep querying until someone actually says yes? How many is too many to communicate with beyond a query? I have not queried very many agents, but seem to be having a little luck. I don't want to push my luck, but I also want to feel I have other options if get a rejection. What do you guys think?

Calla Lily
04-14-2008, 11:44 PM
I stopped when I accepted my agent's offer. For me, there was no other acceptable stopping point.

04-14-2008, 11:59 PM
I would highly recommend querying in batches, say 6-12 query letters at a time, then send out the ms to whoever requests it. The advantage of doing it that way and not shooting your entire query wad at once, is that if you get nothing but rejections on your ms, some agents may have given you feedback/suggestions that you can then use (if you think they are valid) in a rewrite.

That's what I did and by the time I snagged my agent, she wanted zero changes to the sample chapters, as did the editor she ended up selling QUEEN OF THE ROAD to. This was entirely due to all the rewrites I did based on rejecting agents' suggestions. And, if I hadn't done all those rewrites, perhaps I might not have gotten the eventual "yes" from my agent, Mollie Glick.

04-16-2008, 08:15 AM
The better question may be "why should I stop querying agents?" To my way of thinking one should never stop until they get an offer and accept it, or until there are no more agents left to be queried. Don't worry about them, think only about yourself at this point in time. The only thing I wouldn't do is submit to agents who request "exclusive submissions." No matter what most say (not all, but most), and no matter what their guideline state, your work could be tied up for months, all to no avail. But that's a personal judgment only you can make. When I didn't have an agent I was against submitting to anyone (agents or publishers) who asked for an exclusive of more than four weeks. And if I did submit to such an agent or publisher and didn't hear from them in four weeks I'd send a very polite email (or snail mail) stating that their deadline for exclusivity had expired, etc., etc.

04-16-2008, 09:40 AM
I didn't stop until I got one. There were times that I thought the end was near, but I had sooooo many books I always had that glimmer of hope. I thing that was my secret--I had backup--lot's of stuff polished on deck and in the dugout. Like Jim says, "Send them out until hell won't have it."


04-16-2008, 07:23 PM
Off Topic - Hey, triceretops, I've just noticed that you're published by the same house as my Aunt! :)

04-17-2008, 11:37 AM
Thank you for posting. If you have 6-12 requested proposals out would you wait to see what they say before querying more? If I get an offer, I am going to have to let everyone else know, right? Also, if there are any problems with my proposal I want to fix them before everyone sees it. I have not heard from any of the agents who have seen the proposal so I don not have any feedback. It is making my a little nervous. Although I hope it is everything they want, I am starting to become anxious and nervous. I really never thought I would have this problem. OK, I am hoping it is not a problem.

04-17-2008, 07:22 PM

Personally, I would wait, especially if it were closer to 12 proposals out and/or this is your first round of proposals out (ie you haven't gotten any feedback, yet). And, yes. If you get an offer, immediately let everyone know. That should speed up their process, they'll read quickly (some might say something like, "Can I have until the weekend?" and it is totally up to you whether you want to grant that, but if the person was higher up on your list than the one who made an offer, why not?), and then you'll see if you're in the lucky position of having a choice. Speaking of which, talk to the agent who made the offer, see what you think and if you still have proposals out with agents you want to consider, be very enthusiastic and appreciative, but also say that you need a little time to make a decision.

I'm not sure what you think is a "problem." You must have a very good query to now have several proposals out. Even IF no one makes an offer on this batch, perhaps a few will give some feedback. Mull it over, decide if it's valid and if so, rewrite the proposal before querying anew.

Really, it sounds like you're very much on the right track.

04-18-2008, 12:22 AM
Thank you so much. I am going to take your advice Prevostprincess. I think if no one makes an offer out of this group then I might need to make changes to the proposal or something like that. I still have a few queries out from awhile ago. If I get requests from those guys I will send out the proposal, but that it for now. This is my first round of sending out my proposal and query.
I am also wondering if agents like the idea, how often do they help you make a better proposal if it needs some work? I am not saying I don't have a good one. I tried my best. Really, I just don't know what they are thinking or going to think. Thanks again.

04-18-2008, 12:54 AM
I'm going to assume you're a man so I can inform my husband that there IS one who will take my advice :)

Agents tinkering with your proposal and sample chapters is not uncommon at all. My sense from talking to other writers and reading posts on this board is that it's actually much less common to have the agent feel what you had was perfectly ready to send right out. I'm not AT ALL saying that to brag about my own experience: Remember, I rewrote and rewrote and REWROTE (based on rejecting agents' suggestions) before the agent I eventually landed ever saw my stuff. And even then, while she did not want me to touch the sample chapters, she did have me slice the proposal itself down from 16 pages to 4 pages - she said she wanted editors to get to my "wonderful" (OK - I am bragging, now) sample chapters faster.

(I have to say all that rewriting was definitely worth it - although the long wait to get an agent WAS difficult - as by the time I got to write the actual book, I was very secure in my voice, the tone, etc. so that my editor requested very few changes when she saw the completed ms and sent it directly off to copyediting. So, even if you have to do rewrites, hopefully there will be some silver lining.)

I think, though, agents have to love the basic idea AND your writing to make an offer (then there's the always potentially pesky platform issues), not to mention be willing to put in the time on rewriting the proposal/chpts with you.

IF you don't get an offer with what you have out, you really should also consider getting an independent read/consult from someone. You can find someone to hire (there must be recommendations on AW somewhere) or there are places on AW to post work and get it critiqued.

04-18-2008, 08:25 PM
Let me be in the fly in the ointment and say I have never received any feedback on a query. The only feedback you get is rejections, and this sort of information tells you your query isn't working, but not exactly why.

04-18-2008, 08:36 PM
Very true about queries. We were talking about getting feedback on proposals. Not all agents will give feedback on proposals for sure, but some do.

04-18-2008, 08:54 PM
My path was like PP's. My first batch of queries landed some proposal requests, which then all got rejected, but sometimes with helpful hints. Then I wrote nice notes (I spent as much time crafting them as I did my queries) back to a few of those agents asking for just a bit more feed-back about what was wrong. And I got some additional help in return. I really didn't change my proposal much, just tweaked it, but on the basis of the feedback my next batch of queries/proposal landed three offers of representation.

04-18-2008, 08:59 PM
Did anyone from your first batch invite you to resend or try again with them after you fixed things? Just wondering if that can happen. Maybe I am just worried because I don't know what to think.

04-19-2008, 03:11 AM
Did anyone from your first batch invite you to resend or try again with them after you fixed things? Just wondering if that can happen. Maybe I am just worried because I don't know what to think.
No, it was pretty clear they were rejecting me. But several were willing to give me a word or two of advice. I think the key is in how you approach them. And there's no harm in asking.

04-19-2008, 03:12 AM
After making some very minor tweaks in my proposal and answering a few questions agents had after reading my initial query or proposal I received three offers for representation - all from large, prestigious agencies. It can definitely be done. Although we don't think so, agents are thirsting for new writers with salable works. They and the agencies they work for only make money when a manuscript is published by a house and goes on to sell in the public forum.

It's all about business -- of course we must assume that talent is a given.

04-24-2008, 11:00 AM
I got my first rejection. I hope it is my only, but just in case I sent out another query today. I guess I am not ready to just sit and wait. It was a nice thought.

04-25-2008, 06:26 PM
Gettingby, you should be gettingreal... (Sorry, couldn't resist.)

Expect at least 50 rejections as a matter of course, no matter how good you are. While some books do get picked up very quickly, even most successful authors went through a lot of rejection before somebody finally said yes. You are setting yourself up for some very powerful discouragement because of your unrealistic expectations.

And please tell me you are not sending queries out one at a time, and then waiting for an answer before you send the next one. That way madness lies. Some agents can take months (and more) before they work their way down through their mountain of queries to yours.

04-25-2008, 06:40 PM
I said I had several agents request my proposal. I queried about a dozen and most wanted to see more. I do know better than to send out one at a time, and if you read my post it was not about waiting for one response. I am not going to expect 50 rejections. It's not my style. And I think I am being real. I am sorry if being real to you means getting 50 rejections.

Will Lavender
04-25-2008, 07:45 PM
I said I had several agents request my proposal. I queried about a dozen and most wanted to see more. I do know better than to send out one at a time, and if you read my post it was not about waiting for one response. I am not going to expect 50 rejections. It's not my style. And I think I am being real. I am sorry if being real to you means getting 50 rejections.

I don't know if I would expect 50 rejections, but I would expect at least some rejection. You're setting yourself up for major disappointment otherwise.

And getting an agent is not the hard part. The hard part is when it goes out to publishers. Then the rejection starts anew, and at that point it can be a killer because you're so close.

I don't think you should be completely cynical about your work or anything like that, but we've all been rejected. It's just part of the business, and bracing oneself for it is, at least in my opinion, the best way to go about it.

cate townsend
04-25-2008, 08:54 PM
do you still keep querying until someone actually says yes?


04-27-2008, 01:20 AM
I said to expect 50 rejections because I figure it is better to be pessimistic and set myself up for a pleasant surprise than the other way around.

But if I didn't believe, deep down, that somebody will eventually want to read (and publish) what I've written, I wouldn't bother writing. So I can afford to be a pessimist because it's all just a pose to keep discouragement at bay. Make sense now?

05-05-2008, 05:36 AM
Just a little update - I got two rejections on my proposal so I queried about five more agents. Now I have two new requests for my proposal and there are still the others I have not heard back from. I think if I have five to ten agents reading requested material, I feel OK. I am going to stop querying again until I hear from some of these. Anyway, I think I may have found my balance.