The Daily Rejection, Vol. 3

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Editing for authors: because every writer needs a good editor.

cwbuecheler

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Question for my fellow rejected folks: am I the only one who often finds it impossible to personalize a query to a specific agent? I've heard time and time again that's the best way to query, but boy is that easier said than done.

I'm querying for YA sci-fi, but even if I find an agent who specifically represents YA sci-fi I usually don't have anything unique to say to them... unless I happen to stumble upon a book they've repped that's similar to mine, which is very unlikely. So, I'm typically left with a non-personalized query, or (perhaps worse) a lame line like "I hear you're on the lookout for bla-bla-bla XYZ."

I spend so much time scouring the internet to get tidbits of info about these literary agents, and more often than not it's a complete waste.
I've found that it's a lot easier to personalize when an agent uses QueryManager rather than accepting email queries, because typically they have at least a handful of optional inputs that allow for some additional text. I struggle to personalize email queries because I try to stick to the "this shouldn't be longer than a single page in Word, including comps, author bio, etc" guideline. That makes it really tough to start with a paragraph about why you think the ms is a good fit for the agent before launching into your actual pitch.

In a few cases where I've interacted with the agent a bunch on Twitter (or in one case, Discord), I'm able to speak more directly to their interests and in those cases I do definitely try to personalize even if it pushes the query into being a bit longer. Seems to work - I was rejected by all of them but for each the rejection was at least personalized. 😅

-Chris

(ps: hi everyone! I introduced myself in the appropriate section but figured I might as well jump in elsewhere)
 
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Shante_

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I can finally join the Rejection thread! I started querying last week and got my first rejection today. 😭. I was fine at first, but now I'm starting to spiral. Is the query trash? Are the first 10 pages trash? Or was it just a genre/premise the agent didn't find intriguing but someone else will?

<3 to anyone who's in the query trenches with me right now!
 

goddessofgliese

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I can finally join the Rejection thread! I started querying last week and got my first rejection today. 😭. I was fine at first, but now I'm starting to spiral. Is the query trash? Are the first 10 pages trash? Or was it just a genre/premise the agent didn't find intriguing but someone else will?

<3 to anyone who's in the query trenches with me right now!
(((Hugs))) Don't overthink it! It could just be that your story doesn't fit what the agent is looking for at the moment.

Hang in there! We are here with you.
 
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Shante_

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Thank you so much! We'll all get to celebrate our hard wins someday. :giggle:
 

cwbuecheler

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I can finally join the Rejection thread! I started querying last week and got my first rejection today. 😭. I was fine at first, but now I'm starting to spiral. Is the query trash? Are the first 10 pages trash? Or was it just a genre/premise the agent didn't find intriguing but someone else will?

<3 to anyone who's in the query trenches with me right now!
Stay strong. 💪 I've collected well over 300 rejections across multiple books. The ms that earned me three offers of representation was also rejected without so much as a personalized note by at least 45 other agents! Agents reject for a ton of reasons and "this query is / these pages are bad" is probably not even that high on the list for a lot of them.

Good luck!
 

Shante_

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Stay strong. 💪 I've collected well over 300 rejections across multiple books. The ms that earned me three offers of representation was also rejected without so much as a personalized note by at least 45 other agents! Agents reject for a ton of reasons and "this query is / these pages are bad" is probably not even that high on the list for a lot of them.

Good luck!
Thank you so much for sharing! This helps so much! Love the stories of perseverance, and I'm glad it paid off for you! 😁
 
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goddessofgliese

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Stay strong. 💪 I've collected well over 300 rejections across multiple books. The ms that earned me three offers of representation was also rejected without so much as a personalized note by at least 45 other agents! Agents reject for a ton of reasons and "this query is / these pages are bad" is probably not even that high on the list for a lot of them.

Good luck!
Were you previously represented and looking for a new agent? Sorry to be nosy and you don’t have to answer! I’m just curious. I’ve heard of too many stories of authors switching agents and it kinda scares me.
 
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cwbuecheler

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Were you previously represented and looking for a new agent? Sorry to be nosy and you don’t have to answer! I’m just curious. I’ve heard of too many stories of authors switching agents and it kinda scares me.
Oh, I have no problem sharing! Short answer is yes: I was previously represented by Kirsten Carleton of Prospect Agency, until she had to leave the business due to personal reasons, and am unfortunately now back to square one. Long answer is in my newbie introduction thread, here: https://absolutewrite.com/forums/index.php?threads/my-strange-publishing-journey.349632/ 🙂
 

Nether

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Do you send out queries in batches? What kind of schedule do you follow? I want to wait until I have more response so I'll know if I need to tweak my query letter and opening pages, but given how slow the publishing industry is now, I'm afraid it will take me years to go through my query list if I take that approach. :)

Given the nature of my writing schedule, I'm thinking I'll always rely on large batches because otherwise I may run into all kinds of bottlenecks.

However, I've only queried on that first novel -- and made something of a mess of it (and I should probably revise the novel itself because the length is an auto-reject for many agents, but, at the same time, I'm not sure I want to write within that space, so... I have decisions to make), since the resource I used apparently wasn't reliable and a bunch went out to people who don't really cover the genre (going forward, I'll likely rely on something like QueryManager). Given that I've only queried one novel, I feel weird mentioning anything at all.

The next one I'll have go out (actually the fourth novel I wrote) is still going through critiques and I want to beta it. The thing is so far in the past 10 months, I've written the first drafts for 6 novels (and I'm almost halfway through a 7th) so -- even factoring in critiques/betas as a running process -- that's going to be a lot of submissions each year once I solidify my revision process. As such, I'm not I'll be a typical example.

Question for my fellow rejected folks: am I the only one who often finds it impossible to personalize a query to a specific agent? I've heard time and time again that's the best way to query, but boy is that easier said than done.

If I see something interesting or notice a connection, I point it out. So far, it's had no real impact. The only non-boilerplate responses I've had were to boilerplate pitches.

I can finally join the Rejection thread! I started querying last week and got my first rejection today. 😭. I was fine at first, but now I'm starting to spiral. Is the query trash? Are the first 10 pages trash? Or was it just a genre/premise the agent didn't find intriguing but someone else will?

<3 to anyone who's in the query trenches with me right now!

I think I got my first rejection within 48 hours of querying, and it was also the first personalized rejection I got. (Which noted the length, which even before querying I figured was probably going to be an issue. Unfortunately, the videos I'd watched tended to mention the word count associated with another genre, so I didn't realize I was going long until I was already past the length I needed to be -- 102k words instead of 70k or so.)

I'm still waiting on my other rejections, but some should be approaching the universal "if you don't hear from us" period. I'll either revise it, or do an indie publisher run after this. If there's still no interest after the revision, I might rewrite the beginning of the sequel and try a run with that. Otherwise I'll just self-publish those.
 

goddessofgliese

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Oh, I have no problem sharing! Short answer is yes: I was previously represented by Kirsten Carleton of Prospect Agency, until she had to leave the business due to personal reasons, and am unfortunately now back to square one. Long answer is in my newbie introduction thread, here: https://absolutewrite.com/forums/index.php?threads/my-strange-publishing-journey.349632/ 🙂
Wow, that's a hell of a story you got there, Chris! I looked up your books on amazon. Your vampire trilogy are certainly selling well on Kindle Unlimited. Kudos to you! Hope you will also find success in trad. publishing. Well, I hope we all do. :)
 
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goddessofgliese

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Given the nature of my writing schedule, I'm thinking I'll always rely on large batches because otherwise I may run into all kinds of bottlenecks.

However, I've only queried on that first novel -- and made something of a mess of it (and I should probably revise the novel itself because the length is an auto-reject for many agents, but, at the same time, I'm not sure I want to write within that space, so... I have decisions to make), since the resource I used apparently wasn't reliable and a bunch went out to people who don't really cover the genre (going forward, I'll likely rely on something like QueryManager). Given that I've only queried one novel, I feel weird mentioning anything at all.

The next one I'll have go out (actually the fourth novel I wrote) is still going through critiques and I want to beta it. The thing is so far in the past 10 months, I've written the first drafts for 6 novels (and I'm almost halfway through a 7th) so -- even factoring in critiques/betas as a running process -- that's going to be a lot of submissions each year once I solidify my revision process. As such, I'm not I'll be a typical example.
6 novels in 10 months! You are quite productive.

How many queries have you sent?
 

Nether

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6 novels in 10 months! You are quite productive.

How many queries have you sent?

I've only really queried on the first book, and it was about sixty. A handful went out right after I finished proofreading it, but then the remaining 50+ went out over the span of about two months. (Again, using some website that wound up being less-than-reliable; a few of the agencies it listed apparently shut down or split. And, because the website had emails listed, I was mostly doing via email, so it's possible that some may have never even reached the agents. It's impossible to know what even got read when just using email.)

Before sending book 4 to any critique partners/betas, I did 1-2 queries through query manager as a poor man's copyright (and also because I was curious if it was good as-is... although I guess that's not necessarily the best test of quality given the difference in tastes).

Because I'm averaging about a first draft a month right now (since I've picked up speed as I went along), eventually I'm going to hit the point when I'll likely need to do a round of queries every 1-2 months, which is going to be a problem because the turnaround for most agencies is 6-8 weeks so I'll likely backlog if I'm not picked up after the first few. (And, considering I'm writing in multiple genres because I'm probably going to have to, it's possible that I'll need multiple agents.) That said, if I get into the trade publishing process, I'm *assuming* the demands on my time will cut my drafting rate down.
 

cwbuecheler

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Wow, that's a hell of a story you got there, Chris! I looked up your books on amazon. Your vampire trilogy are certainly selling well on Kindle Unlimited. Kudos to you! Hope you will also find success in trad. publishing. Well, I hope we all do. :)
Thanks so much! I wish you the same. It's a long and arduous journey for most, but all you can really do is keep at it.
 

litdawg

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Hi all--I got a story rejection this week and went to do what I always do--send it right back out to the next venue on the list (I'm not a huge fan of simultaneous subs). The next nine venues I wanted to query were all closed to subs. Umm, wow! As much as it irks me, I'm going to have to hold my hot potato until Oct 1 when a few of them reopen.
 
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Laelia

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Hello all. Got a rejection today for a piece of creative non-fiction but it said "Your essay stood out and we enjoyed the read, but we can accept so few pieces, we do have to decline good work." They also said that I could bypass the three month waiting period to submit another if I wanted. Others here have more experience than I do - are these points just polite boiler plate, or should I be actually encouraged by them?
 
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Lakey

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Hello all. Got a rejection today for a piece of creative non-fiction but it said "Your essay stood out and we enjoyed the read, but we can accept so few pieces, we do have to decline good work." They also said that I could bypass the three month waiting period to submit another if I wanted. Others here have more experience than I do - are these points just polite boiler plate, or should I be actually encouraged by them?
I think that’s real. It might still technically be a form letter in that it’s not personalized to your piece and they send the same words to multiple just-missed-the-cut writers, but it’s unlikely that they send it to everyone they reject. Especially the offer to bypass the waiting period—there’s just no reason for them to say that if it’s not true. If they said it on every rejection, why would they bother having the waiting period?

I try not to put too much stock in “feel free to submit to us again” type language that is polite without any particular enthusiasm. But invitations to bypass the regular process, to “mention this letter with your next submission,” that sort of thing—I think those are intended as real encouragement and it’s safe to interpret them as such.

:e2coffee:
 

angelisa fontaine-wood

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I'm rankled. Usually I am fairly philosophical about rejections, maybe I'm in a mood, but I got one that said my story "was not what they had hoped". That seems like a crappy thing to say, I dunno. And then said editor appeared in my social media feed in a write-up calling them all that and a bag of chips so pfpfpfpfpfpfpf. And yeah, I'm in a mood.
 
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TrapperViper

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I think that’s real. It might still technically be a form letter in that it’s not personalized to your piece and they send the same words to multiple just-missed-the-cut writers, but it’s unlikely that they send it to everyone they reject. Especially the offer to bypass the waiting period—there’s just no reason for them to say that if it’s not true. If they said it on every rejection, why would they bother having the waiting period?

I try not to put too much stock in “feel free to submit to us again” type language that is polite without any particular enthusiasm. But invitations to bypass the regular process, to “mention this letter with your next submission,” that sort of thing—I think those are intended as real encouragement and it’s safe to interpret them as such.

:e2coffee:
Totally agree. It's legit and worth being psyched about IMHO...
 

maryland

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Amazon have just delivered copies of my new novel. It's self-published, with my own painting on the cover. The covers are glossy and it's like a Christmas parcel. It's the end of suffering!
!2 agents took three months to reject or not reply - it does take a large chunk of our time, waiting for a response and not knowing what to do in the meantime (yes, next book is half-done.)
Our local independent bookshop refuses to handle any self-published books and treats me like an intruder. "They come in here, with their self-published books and expect them to go into the window," was the response as I backed out of the shop, embarrassed.
My writing group was more interested in recipes, illnesses, holidays, cars and personal problems than writing, and has shown no interest in my books, even when they got a PDF of the last one. Nobody bought a copy or commented on Amazon or Goodreads.
Have just discovered that Net Galley costs hundreds of $$$$s.
In the light of all the above, you can see why those newly printed books - even if they come from the dreaded Amazon - are so important. I feel like a wild animal freed from a trap.
 

Alan Yee

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I’m pretty sure my story out on submission made it past the first readers and is now waiting for the editors to read and decide on it. A lot of rejections have been reported for stories submitted after mine, and now my story is sloooooowly moving up in the queue. I’m trying not to get my hopes up, but you know, an acceptance would be nice.
 

ajmiz827

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I can finally join the Rejection thread! I started querying last week and got my first rejection today. 😭. I was fine at first, but now I'm starting to spiral. Is the query trash? Are the first 10 pages trash? Or was it just a genre/premise the agent didn't find intriguing but someone else will?

<3 to anyone who's in the query trenches with me right now!
Shante --
Don't get discouraged! I started querying last week as well and as of today, I received seven rejections. I was expecting to get rejected; after all who expects to get a request for more material right away? I look at it as a learning experience. I'm still trying to figure out what agents are best for me. So if the agents I query are passing on my book, then it's their loss. I am confident someone will ask for either a partial or a full manuscript eventually.

And even if I do get an offer of representation down the line, I still intend to do more thorough research and vet both the agent and the agency. This is a business partnership and I want the best person to partner with.

I wish you luck with your Agent Search.
 

Alan Yee

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Eeeeee! Confirmed by editors via Twitter:

“Space Unicorn Writers! All of the short story submissions at
@UncannyMagazine
have been processed by the submissions editors. If you haven’t heard from us, your story is with the Editors-in-Chief for final decisions. Thank you for your patience!”

*bites fingernails nervously*
 

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