The Daily Rejection, Vol. 3

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

Unimportant

I got a Sisyphus point!!!!!
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I got my first rejection, just a day or two after sending out queries. It was a very nice personalized note about how my niche (books about books) is a tough one and I might want to go to a small publishing house. (I still want an agent, even for a small press, but I guess that's not her scene. She's at a big NY agency.)

So all around, very pleased with my first rejection!
I acknowledge that your book may be niche, and that if you were ever to seek feedback it ought to be from experts in the field (which I most definitely am not), but I would love love love love to read your book.

So please keep that in the back of your mind as you slog through the misery that is querying and publishing: An utterly unimportant nobody from nowhere would kill to see (read) how the literature of her childhood fits in with and has shaped her today.

You have an enthusiastic audience of one at the very least.

Please do share with us when your book is published and available for purchase.
 
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mccardey

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I acknowledge that your book may be niche, and that if you were ever to seek feedback it ought to be from experts in the field (which I most definitely am not), but I would love love love love to read your book.

So please keep that in the back of your mind as you slog through the misery that is querying and publishing: An utterly unimportant nobody from nowhere would kill to see (read) how the literature of her childhood fits in with and has shaped her today.

You have an enthusiastic audience of one at the very least.

Please do share with us when your book is published and available for purchase.
Same
 

Meg Wilson

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if you were ever to seek feedback it ought to be from experts in the field
I'll let you in on a secret: there are no experts in the field. Academics who study children's literature are playing insider baseball with all their theories and such, usually within a very narrow domain. (As an academic myself, I'm not throwing shade, that's just how academics are!) So I'm kind of out here on my own.

I would love love love love to read your book.
Wow, that's amazing. I'm blushing. šŸ˜Š

Would you like to read my book, like, . . . now? I'd be happy to share. I've already gotten incredibly useful feedback from friends who are simply fellow enthusiasts, and I would love to hear your take on it.
 
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Aiwendil

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Got my second rejection out of the queries I've sent out. Six rejections to go.
 

LStein

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Hi all! I'm excited that I get to join you in the query trenches. I've just sent out my first queries today, so no rejections yet. But I have a question for you veterans. I only sent out 9 to some fast responders to test the water, as suggested by r/pubtips and Alexa Donne, but I noticed that on Query Tracker, something like 7% of queries get a request. Is 9 too small of a sample size to see if my query is working?
 

zmethos

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Hi all! I'm excited that I get to join you in the query trenches. I've just sent out my first queries today, so no rejections yet. But I have a question for you veterans. I only sent out 9 to some fast responders to test the water, as suggested by r/pubtips and Alexa Donne, but I noticed that on Query Tracker, something like 7% of queries get a request. Is 9 too small of a sample size to see if my query is working?

I don't know if 9 is too small a sample (math is not my strong suit), but I usually send out only 5-10 queries at a time to see what kind of responses I get. Then I tweak as seemingly necessary.
 
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LStein

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I don't know if 9 is too small a sample (math is not my strong suit), but I usually send out only 5-10 queries at a time to see what kind of responses I get. Then I tweak as seemingly necessary.
Are you getting mostly rejections or no responses at all? The latter seems more common these days.
 

LStein

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First rejection on my query + 20 pages. Trying not to take it as a judgment of my writing.
 
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ambianc

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^ I'm in the same boat. I got another rejection this morning. I really don't know what to do. Most of the rejections all say that they love the premise, and this last one said my writing is excellent. So I'm just not sure what to fix. I had only one ask for a full manuscript but she ultimately passed saying she liked the premise but just wasn't for her. Otherwise, so many just don't respond to my query.
 

LStein

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^ I'm in the same boat. I got another rejection this morning. I really don't know what to do. Most of the rejections all say that they love the premise, and this last one said my writing is excellent. So I'm just not sure what to fix. I had only one ask for a full manuscript but she ultimately passed saying she liked the premise but just wasn't for her. Otherwise, so many just don't respond to my query.
How many queries have you sent out? It seems like you're getting positive responses, so I hope that's encouraging.

From everything I'm reading and seeing, agents seem like they have to fall in love with the MS to offer representation, so it seems like a lot of books with good premises and writing get turned down. I go back and forth between finding that reassuring and frustrating.

Also, out of curiosity, how long did that agent have the full? I have one full out and am on tenterhooks!
 
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Unimportant

I got a Sisyphus point!!!!!
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^ I'm in the same boat. I got another rejection this morning. I really don't know what to do. Most of the rejections all say that they love the premise, and this last one said my writing is excellent. So I'm just not sure what to fix. I had only one ask for a full manuscript but she ultimately passed saying she liked the premise but just wasn't for her. Otherwise, so many just don't respond to my query.
If you're getting personalised responses lauding your premise and/or writing style, that's really promising. No query/book is going to entice every agent; it only needs to grab one. Agents can love a book but not feel that they have the connections/networks to sell it. Almost-grabbing suggests that that One Agent For You is right around the corner.

I'm assuming that you've had people read and comment on your query and opening pages (and full ms), and that you've tightened and polished the heck out of them, and that you're following all the agents' guidelines re sending the number of pages they want, mentioning comps if they require that, etc. In which case, there's not a heck of a lot more you can do but wait for that One Agent For You to come along.
 
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ambianc

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So that agent had the full for about a week. So hang in there! I've got all my fingers and toes crossed for you!!!

Ugh I've sent so many out, I've sent out overall 18 queries. With two full requests. And about three rejections. With five I'm counting on as no responses. Every three weeks or so, I try to re-evaluate and revise and send out another batch.


^@unimportant - thank you, that makes me feel better. It's tough. I feel like I should be getting more partial requests? I guess it worries me that so many of my requests just aren't responded to. And yeah I keep revising and polishing things up. I think after this next batch I might take a break and send out my ms to another round of beta readers.
 

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Do you have comp titles? Check your opening pages (and manuscript) against the opening pages (and full) of your comps. Be brutal on your own self-evaluation.

Beta readers are crucial but don't discount the value of a side-by-side comparison of your manuscript to works that sold.
 

ambianc

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Do you have comp titles? Check your opening pages (and manuscript) against the opening pages (and full) of your comps. Be brutal on your own self-evaluation.

Beta readers are crucial but don't discount the value of a side-by-side comparison of your manuscript to works that sold.


Oh this is a good idea, I hadn't thought of that! Thank you!!! I'll definitely do this.
 
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LStein

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So that agent had the full for about a week. So hang in there! I've got all my fingers and toes crossed for you!!!

Ugh I've sent so many out, I've sent out overall 18 queries. With two full requests. And about three rejections. With five I'm counting on as no responses. Every three weeks or so, I try to re-evaluate and revise and send out another batch.


^@unimportant - thank you, that makes me feel better. It's tough. I feel like I should be getting more partial requests? I guess it worries me that so many of my requests just aren't responded to. And yeah I keep revising and polishing things up. I think after this next batch I might take a break and send out my ms to another round of beta readers.
Thank you! It varies so widely. On Querytracker this agent has had fulls out for over 2 months, sometimes over 3 months and most get rejected. But then she'll occasionally reject or offer quickly. Who knows?

It seems like 50% of queries are getting no responses at all so you're not alone there. Also some agencies take a while to even reject queries or request pages from them. (Even fast responders like Bookends gives 6 weeks as their query response time, though most respond much faster than that.)
 

Diospyros kaki

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So that agent had the full for about a week. So hang in there! I've got all my fingers and toes crossed for you!!!

Ugh I've sent so many out, I've sent out overall 18 queries. With two full requests. And about three rejections. With five I'm counting on as no responses. Every three weeks or so, I try to re-evaluate and revise and send out another batch.


^@unimportant - thank you, that makes me feel better. It's tough. I feel like I should be getting more partial requests? I guess it worries me that so many of my requests just aren't responded to. And yeah I keep revising and polishing things up. I think after this next batch I might take a break and send out my ms to another round of beta readers.
18 doesn't seem like many (says someone who is 10 to 15 ahead of you). I've got about the same response and request rate as you. 1 of my full requests turned into a No Response, which was extra aggravating--but I think it's par for the course.
 
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ambianc

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oopfh, I swear waiting on a full manuscript request is one of the most stressful things in life. And I know, I think the only luck I've had is I've managed to get my query in to a few who JUST reopened, so it seems like they are the only people who respond fast.


and okay good, I've been desperately trying to hold myself back. I really want to just rip the bandaid off and query everyone all at once, but I know that's not the right way to go about things. And right?! I just wish sometimes they would give us something. :Shrug:
 

LStein

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oopfh, I swear waiting on a full manuscript request is one of the most stressful things in life. And I know, I think the only luck I've had is I've managed to get my query in to a few who JUST reopened, so it seems like they are the only people who respond fast.


and okay good, I've been desperately trying to hold myself back. I really want to just rip the bandaid off and query everyone all at once, but I know that's not the right way to go about things. And right?! I just wish sometimes they would give us something. :Shrug:
I am really feeling this today. I want to query 10 more agents but I'm forcing myself to wait until I get more rejections or requests from the first batch. It's only been 1 week since I sent my first queries! I know that's not that long, but it's still hard to wait :)
 
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Here are my most recent query stats, for anyone new to querying. In early 2021, I queried 109 US agents and 11 non-US agents.

Of 109 US agents, 57 did not reply. 52 replied with form and personal rejections. It took from zero days (three agents) to 250 days for those Rs to arrive. (One full request.) That's an average wait of 53 days, with a standard deviation (FWIW) of 60 days. (No response from just over half of the agents queried.)

Of the 11 non-US agents, 6 did not reply (again, just over half). The other five were rejections, three form and two personal, and it took between 28 and 180 days to receive those. That's an average wait time of 81 days, StDev of 60 days.

These numbers are in line with the querying stats on my first project, queried 2019, although there were quite a few more personal Rs this time around. (Fewer full requests, which I expected, in part because I would not personally ask for a full on a second-in-series, even if it stands alone which this does.)

I also was unsurprised (largely unbothered) by these numbers due to the request rates on Querytracker. Many agents who represent my genre request only a few percent (if that) of the queries they receive. My single full request came from an agent who requests at a higher rate. A friend of mine queried at the same time as I did, and he received replies (rejections) from agents who never got back to me at all--read into that whatever you will.

The best advice I would give my younger self (who wanted advice and tried the route of query-in-small-batches) is to identify lit agencies with a rapid response time, and query those agencies first. Because otherwise, waiting for feedback on your query means waiting months and months and months... before you send off that second batch of queries.

My second piece of advice (to my younger self, and anyone else who might be interested) is to look at the Pitch Wars showcase. Analyze the query hooks and opening 200 words, especially in your genre. See what your personal response is to those words, whether you want to read more or not, and ask yourself why. Then look at your own opening in comparison. And also see how many agents felt as you feel about the Pitch Wars entries--which you can see by the request stats.

But in the meantime--to anyone querying for the first time--congratulations on making it this far! It's a huge accomplishment.
 

LStein

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Here are my most recent query stats, for anyone new to querying. In early 2021, I queried 109 US agents and 11 non-US agents.

Of 109 US agents, 57 did not reply. 52 replied with form and personal rejections. It took from zero days (three agents) to 250 days for those Rs to arrive. (One full request.) That's an average wait of 53 days, with a standard deviation (FWIW) of 60 days. (No response from just over half of the agents queried.)

Of the 11 non-US agents, 6 did not reply (again, just over half). The other five were rejections, three form and two personal, and it took between 28 and 180 days to receive those. That's an average wait time of 81 days, StDev of 60 days.

These numbers are in line with the querying stats on my first project, queried 2019, although there were quite a few more personal Rs this time around. (Fewer full requests, which I expected, in part because I would not personally ask for a full on a second-in-series, even if it stands alone which this does.)

I also was unsurprised (largely unbothered) by these numbers due to the request rates on Querytracker. Many agents who represent my genre request only a few percent (if that) of the queries they receive. My single full request came from an agent who requests at a higher rate. A friend of mine queried at the same time as I did, and he received replies (rejections) from agents who never got back to me at all--read into that whatever you will.

The best advice I would give my younger self (who wanted advice and tried the route of query-in-small-batches) is to identify lit agencies with a rapid response time, and query those agencies first. Because otherwise, waiting for feedback on your query means waiting months and months and months... before you send off that second batch of queries.

My second piece of advice (to my younger self, and anyone else who might be interested) is to look at the Pitch Wars showcase. Analyze the query hooks and opening 200 words, especially in your genre. See what your personal response is to those words, whether you want to read more or not, and ask yourself why. Then look at your own opening in comparison. And also see how many agents felt as you feel about the Pitch Wars entries--which you can see by the request stats.

But in the meantime--to anyone querying for the first time--congratulations on making it this far! It's a huge accomplishment.
Thank you so much for the data and advice! I wonder if a hooky premise is more important than great writing.

I can't believe how many agencies follow the "no response means no" policy. It makes it extra frustrating to not know for sure if they even saw the query.

I did try to target fast responders but I now realize that a lot of them only respond if they want to see more, so I'm not sure where I stand really.
 
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LStein

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Welp, I got a rejection on a query today. I was getting itchy waiting but rejection still stings a bit. Sending out another query tonight!
 

Elizabeth George's book Write Away