The First Two Hundred [updated: Make that NINE hundred seventy five see post 24]

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

AHunter3

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At some time around 9 this morning I sent out my 200th (and 201st) query.

If I were genuinely wallpapering my room with rejection letters I'd be well along the way towards covering the first wall. (I'm not, since more often than not that would involve printing out emailed rejection notices).

June will mark the one-year mark of sending out query letters.

I don't have infinite patience for this, so I think when I've sent out 2000 or it's been 10 years, whichever comes first, I may have to reconsider whether I want to keep on trying.
 
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JoyMC

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Are we talking the same manuscript? Because yeah, you probably don't want to query the same manuscript forever and ever amen. But while you might reach a point where it's time to stop trying with that one, it doesn't mean you have to give up on querying. Are you working on something new?

It took me 290 queries to get an agent - on my fifth manuscript. If I had stuck with my first manuscript, which had some good points, but also some insurmountable points, I never would have gotten my amazing agent.

Soldier on!
 

AHunter3

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The main project is a memoir and I think memoirs take longer to sell to an agent.

I could care less if I ever get anything else published if this one does not, insofar as this is the one that matters. I have, on the other hand, worked up some additional projects (figuring that if they snag an agent first, I then have an agent, who will with any luck be willing to also help place the one that matters) and some of those 200 queries were pertaining to Project 2. But not many.
 
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Expat-hack

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You are an inspiration. I was at 60 queries and ready to quit (I haven't). I have to keep in mind that many around here have literally sent out hundreds. What a business. Good luck and may your luck quickly change.
 
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Director C

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You need to focus on the story you'll get to tell when you give a book reading to adoring fans. About how you sent out hundreds of queries and almost lost hope before your memoir finally sold and skyrocketed to #1 on the NYT bestseller list.
 

AHunter3

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current stats:

The Story of Q

total queries = 346
rejections: 222
outstanding: 120
under consideration: 2

Story of Q As NonFiction (memoir):

total queries: 316
rejections: 219
outstanding: 95
under consideration: 1

Story of Q As Fiction:

total queries = 30
rejections: 3
outstanding: 25
under consideration: 1


That Guy in Our Women's Studies Class

total queries = 22
rejections: 20
outstanding: 2
 

Romangoblets

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If I received 200 rejections, I, probably, would trunk it or sit down and take a rather long look at what's not working for so many agents. I don't mean to be negative. If it were me, however, that many rejections related to one manuscript signifies the manuscript is not working in a big way. Good luck.
 

AHunter3

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If I received 200 rejections, I, probably, would trunk it or sit down and take a rather long look at what's not working for so many agents. I don't mean to be negative. If it were me, however, that many rejections related to one manuscript signifies the manuscript is not working in a big way. Good luck.

This is just the first year. I'm going to do this for at least 10 years and then I'll seriously consider dropping the project.

It's not as if this is one of many books I'm interested in writing. I'm not a person who desires to write books as either a profession or as a hobby and this is "A BOOK" that I could toss into the trunk and start working on the next one. I'm a person who wishes to tell a particular story, and writing a book seemed (and continues to seem) like the best opportunity to get it out there.
 

Romangoblets

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This is just the first year. I'm going to do this for at least 10 years and then I'll seriously consider dropping the project.

It's not as if this is one of many books I'm interested in writing. I'm not a person who desires to write books as either a profession or as a hobby and this is "A BOOK" that I could toss into the trunk and start working on the next one. I'm a person who wishes to tell a particular story, and writing a book seemed (and continues to seem) like the best opportunity to get it out there.

I hear what you're saying but maybe the traditional agent route is not going to happen. If you just want to "get it out there," why not self-publish? That way you could accomplish what you set out to without spending a decade potentially spinning your wheels with rejecting agents. Two hundred rejections in one year is a signal to you to take a serious look at your manuscript if, in fact, you desire to continue querying agents. Again, it seems self-publishing may be your best bet. Good luck
 

AHunter3

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Thanks for the goodluck wishes, but unless there's a lot about self-publishing that I'm not understanding, it leaves the book promotion efforts in MY hands, and those are the skills I ain't got. If I could promote ANYTHING, I could probably reach people without writing a book, if you see what I mean.

Once I've hit every living breathing agent at least a time or two over the course of a decade, if I don't get representation I'll look elsewhere.
 

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How do you do it? I can count the number of times I have been rejected by anything on one hand, and each one was terrifying. I am having a hard time putting my nose back out there. You are an inspiration.
 

cornflake

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I don't understand a few things (not that I have to but just asking) -

First, you have what looks like the same books queried as fiction and non. Do you have two versions or are you just querying a memoir as fiction to have more places to query?

Which brings me to second, you say '10 years,' as if you're just going to query for 10 years, come hell or high water, but won't you run out of agents long before then? I mean they do keep making more, but still. How're you not close to that already?

I agree there's an issue with the query and/or pages at the rates you seem to be getting. I'm not sure if rejections include people who've requested, but if requests are only the 'under consideration,' people, that's less than 1% request rate, which says the query is amiss. If people are all rejecting pages as well at that rate, I'd suggest looking at it as a whole.

It doesn't mean you can't tell the story you want to tell - it may mean you can't tell it the precise way you want to tell it, if you mean to tell it by trade publishing.
 

DoNoKharms

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I also recall from the QLH thread that this book was tough to place genre-wise: not quite fiction, not quite memoir, not quite academic paper. The truth is, an agent's top criteria is 'will this sell', and I do think your story has a fairly small and non-commercial niche. For something like that, I do think it might be worth considering learning the promotional skills and self-publishing, especially if you're unwilling to compromise. Surely if your timeline is a decade, you could learn the skills of a self-publisher and gain more than jamming the same round peg into the same square hole.
 

Shandylous

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Also, many (but not all) agents are looking for writers with an interest in writing more than one book. You say you are not interested in writing as a career, or even as a hobby. If it is this the one-and-only book for you, I'd consider what other posters have mentioned and explore your options beyond the traditional agent route.
 

AHunter3

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I don't understand a few things (not that I have to but just asking) -

First, you have what looks like the same books queried as fiction and non. Do you have two versions or are you just querying a memoir as fiction to have more places to query?

Yeah, it's the same story; the names have all been changed anyway and unless the subject is a famous or semifamous person, any memoir can be treated as fiction.

Which brings me to second, you say '10 years,' as if you're just going to query for 10 years, come hell or high water, but won't you run out of agents long before then? I mean they do keep making more, but still. How're you not close to that already?

True! I guess I should say "10 years or I run out of living agents, whichever comes first".
 

AHunter3

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I got a request for a full!

:snoopy:


http://ahunter3.livejournal.com/15150.html

Current Stats:

The Story of Q, total queries: 542
Rejections: 513
Outstanding: 28
Under Consideration: 1

As Nonfiction: (total queries): 358
Rejections: 340
Outstanding: 18

As Fiction: (total queries): 184
Rejections: 173
Outstanding: 10
Under Consideration: 1
 

Treehouseman

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I think gender identity is about to become a bit of a memoir hot topic shortly, (there's a lot more trans rights and representation articles in the media - it's on the verge of taking off) so best of luck!
 

AHunter3

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I have a couple of relatively rare paper queries sitting in their envelopes to my right, waiting for me to send them out snail mail. If I count those two I just crossed the 800-query mark.



Current Stats:

The Story of Q, total queries: 800
Rejections: 732
Outstanding: 68

As Nonfiction: (total queries): 579
Rejections: 513
Outstanding: 66

As Fiction: (total queries): 221
Rejections: 219
Outstanding: 2


Those numbers are all for lit agents. I'm also directly querying small presses these days. I have 6 turn-towns (and/or no reply after 3 months) and 3 outstanding.


Director C said:
You need to focus on the story you'll get to tell when you give a book reading to adoring fans. About how you sent out hundreds of queries and almost lost hope before your memoir finally sold and skyrocketed to #1 on the NYT bestseller list.

I should totally write an article for the local newspaper about being an author and sending out 800 query letters.
 
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AHunter3

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** holds on to couch cushion while trying to breathe normally **

I think I have a publisher. I mean I definitely have an offer. It's a publisher often mentioned here on AbsWrite WaterCooler. Not as scammers but with some worrisome behaviors. A fair number of you have published with them.

I think I should see if having an interested publisher will generate a bit more interest on the part of an agent.

I really want to see this book published. You could probably guess that from the 800 query letters thing, huh?
 

pinkbowvintage

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Wow, that's a ton of query letters. I assume you've revised the query in between and gotten feedback on the MS from multiple people?

If you really want to see this book published, my best advice would be not to query everyone at once with a MS that may not be "perfect" yet. Congrats on the full, and I hope things do work out with this publisher! But there's no rush to get published :)
 

Jamesaritchie

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Two hundred queries in one year is about a hundred and eighty too many for my taste. I don't see much success when writers sent out queries in numbers like that. It usually means the same query is going to a lot of different agents, and this is seldom a good thing for any of them.
 

AHunter3

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I once again have a publisher. Offer, contract, and release date.

If I could talk to myself circa 2013 I would say "After you get 200 rejection letters from agents, it is time to quit querying agents and focus on querying small publishers". Which is what I did but only after about 750 agents rejected me.
 

AHunter3

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Update: My 2017 publisher wanted to discard the first five years (34,000 words) of my story arc, and after unsuccessful attempts to negotiate, I asked for my rights back. I have my THIRD contract on the damn book and just sent back the last-chance author's revisions. Book should come out some time this spring although it isn't officially scheduled yet.



My final stats were


1453 useless queries to literary agents






117 queries to small presses resulting in


1 signed contract 2016 (Ellora's Cave, went out of business)


1 signed contract 2017 (NineStar Press, irreconcilable diffs, asked for my rights back)


1 signed contract 2019 (Sunstone Press)
 

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