Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Persistence versus Denial

First of all -- 50 followers!! Woo-hoo! Thank you all for visiting. It's great to have you here.
I was recently reading a blog comment where someone wrote they had just received their 100th rejection. My first thought was "Maybe that person isn't a good writer and should just get the hint and give up already." But that thought was quickly followed by admiration of the persistence that writer showed.

How many queries do you send, how many rejections do you get before you give up? When is it dedication and tenancity, and when is it just not facing facts that it's not going to happen?

Janet Reid says to query widely, to query every agent that represents your genre. After all, you are searching  for someone who loves your work, a very subjective task. Poll fifty people and you'll get fifty different favorite books. So if you query 100 agents of the 750 agents in NYC alone, you're only hitting 13% of the agents. Doesn't sound quite so desperate when you think of it that way.

But then again, others get representation after querying 10 or 20 agents. Is their writing that much better? Did they just get lucky? You hear stories of sucess after of rejections, but how many bestselling authors own up to getting rejected by 100 agents before securing representation?

I don't have an answer to this and I'd love to hear some opinions. How far do you go? How many rejections do you get before you give up? Have you heard stories of someone securing representation and getting a book deal after high numbers of rejections?


  1. I told myself I'd send out 126 queries before shelving my novel. I'm not there yet, thank goodness. I've definitely heard of people getting representation after tons of rejections- a lot of people post their stats on Querytracker.

    Everyone's journey is different!

  2. If one gets nothing but form rejections, it's time to go back to the drawing board--take a hard look at the query and/or the manuscript. Get more readers--lots of them. Rejection of partials might be a matter of taste, but never getting past query stage is a bad sign that one's marketing materials are poor or that the premise isn't salable.

  3. I know someone who got a deal on the first shot, but he was writing for a specific niche. Most stories I hear are of authors who receive so many rejections they could paper their walls with them! I haven't started querying yet, but I get the sense that it's a confusing jumble of skill and luck--like blackjack.

  4. I'm facing that exact dilemma today: how do you know when to stop? (This, after having cried all over the internet already about an agent--25 yrs in the business!--who rejected me this morning with a 3-line form email after five months on an R & R exclusive and the promise she would "help me make it marketable." I'm still crying.)

    Do I stop at 100? 126? (Yeah, why 126?) Or when someone just finally says "give it up, your writing sucks!" (This, on a manuscript that was once considered by Penguin/Plume for a trade paperback? Someone thought it was good once!)

    Do I even continue on my WIP, the third novel in this non-genre that's hard for agents to pigeon-hole?

    I hope someone post some answers on here. Thanks for asking the question that's been making me crazy all day.

    In all my self-pity, I haven't forgotten my manners: I thoroughly enjoy your blog. Thanks and keep up the good work. : ) <--*through the tears*

  5. I'm never giving up. I love to write and I know my book has an audience, different as it is. Plus writing isn't all that I'm interested in doing with my life, so I can afford to wait a few years. Not that I want to...

    Neat blog, by the way. :D

  6. Thank you all for visiting and commenting.

    Emmaserene - my heart goes out to you. The waiting is bad enough but getting that close only to have it not work out must really knock you down. But don't let it knock you out!

  7. I haven't begun querying yet, but I suppose it will depend on what stage I'm getting rejected. If it's the partial/full stage, I will have to seriously look at my ms again before querying. That said, however, I hope I can persevere until I've exhausted my query list or until my next project is ready. :)