Not even a partial

Submission protocol, query etiquette, and strategies that work
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dios4vida
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Not even a partial

Post by dios4vida » July 29th, 2010, 12:22 pm

Hi all,

My second ms is walking the long and lonely Rejection Road in Queryland right now. I just got my fifth (I think) rejection on this one. That brings my total number of rejections to 17. Granted, I know why my first novel got rejected. It's a first novel, and let's face it: it stinks. But this new ms is so much better. I got great reactions from my critique partners, and even I can see the growth my writing skills have undergone. I really believe in this story and thought this new novel had a good chance of getting at least some attention.

Alas...no. Nothing.

It's getting me down. I've never gotten any interest on any of my work. No partial requests. Just straight up "no."

In all the blogs I frequent I've read everything from "it might not to right for the market" to "if you don't get any interest whatsoever then you're really doing things wrong" and everything in between. I don't know what to think anymore. Is my writing really that substandard? Or is it really that the market is flooded with high fantasy right now and no one cares about my genre?

Has anyone else faced this issue? Any helpful advice, or anything at all? Encouragement? Cookies?
Brenda :)

Inspiration isn't about the muse. Inspiration is working until something clicks. ~Brandon Sanderson

Down the well
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Re: Not even a partial

Post by Down the well » July 29th, 2010, 12:41 pm

Yes, eat a cookie.

If all the rejection is coming at the query stage then you need to take a second look at your letter to see if it is written as enticingly as it could be. If there isn't a strong enough hook you aren't going to snag interest.

If you start getting rejected after agents read pages then you might want to consider a rewrite. Make absolutely certain you are starting the novel in the right place -- right where the s**t hits the fan, as they say. And, in all honesty, I do think fantasy is a highly competitive genre. You can see how many writers on the forum are writing it. Things probably do have to stand out as more original to get recognition.

It is maddening. I hate the query process. It makes me question everything. Blah. I'm going to go eat a cookie too.

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polymath
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Re: Not even a partial

Post by polymath » July 29th, 2010, 12:42 pm

Send me the first page, 250 words or so, by private message and I'll take a look under the hood and comment. Include the query too, at least the pitch part.
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Re: Not even a partial

Post by Emily J » July 29th, 2010, 12:51 pm

Okay, I'm trying this again, but this is the second time today my posts have disappeared! But I suppose I need to follow my own advice, my advice being: Never Give Up! Never Surrender! (to steal a line from Galaxy Quest)

I feel your pain, I truly do. My manuscript earned 3 form rejections and 2 no responses out of 5 queries. Ouch. After looking it over I decided that I was querying too early and that I still had some serious rewriting/editing to do.

Rejections are tough, and they are inevitable. There are certainly things you can do to improve your odds, study your craft and study the market. It's true that high fantasy is not selling very well right now but there are still houses out there buying. But you also need to look at the rejections. Are they all form rejections? How about the submission guidelines, did they call for a query, a query and a synopsis, or a query, synopsis and pages? If it is only your query getting rejections that could be your problem right there. Have you posted your query on the forum for review? How about your synopsis?

Before you give up, I think you should get some more feedback on your query, synopsis and your manuscript. Find beta readers, critique partners, (or forum-goers) who are brutally honest. Listen to all of their feedback and make choices about what needs to be changed and why. Edit edit edit. Then when you are ready research the crap out of the agents you are submitting to. Do they have blogs? (like Nathan) twitter? Check them out. Customize your query accordingly. Then, if all that fails and you still haven't garnered a request, start over. Write another novel.

Persistence, persistence, persistence.

And yes, by all means, have a cookie.

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Re: Not even a partial

Post by Sommer Leigh » July 29th, 2010, 1:10 pm

Try not to let it get you down because rejections aren't personal. They don't even really say anything about your writing. All they say is This Manuscript is Not Right for This Agent and to give it a silver lining, do you really want an agent who isn't right for you anyway?

You don't want just any fit, you want THE BEST fit. And sometimes that means a lot of rejections. And yeah, it might also mean your manuscript isn't ready. I feel your pain about not knowing where the problem might be. Reach out in the feedback forum for some helpful advice on your query and first 250 pages. Everyone around here is so nice and helpful and SMART. Oh my god everyone on this forum is so smart! I think that it is easy to see problems with other people's submissions, terrible difficult to see it in our own.

Good luck to you and congratulations on putting yourself out there. That's such a huge first step.
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Re: Not even a partial

Post by Margo » July 29th, 2010, 1:21 pm

dios4vida wrote:Any helpful advice, or anything at all? Encouragement? Cookies?
Advice (hopefully helpful): Do everything you can to get to a convention or workshop where you can get a professional agent and/or editor to look at the first few pages of your work. I highly recommend Donald Maass' Break Out Novel Intensive. It is expensive, it is a week long, and it is a brain-frying experience to be in classes all day, take meals with the other students and instructors (meaning more industry and writing talk), and finish the evening with crit workshops that can eaily run past 10pm, broken up by two or three hour breaks wherein you are doing homework or stealing a nap. However, Donald himself and (if I recall) five professional editors (ranging from good to OMG brilliant) look at the first 50 pages (and a synopsis, I think). When you consider that Lisa Rector (for instance) usually makes about $500 to look at the first 50 pages, and multiply that times five, and throw in Don's private session, then throw in something like 6 hours of class a day, meals and lodging included...it's a bargain (if a person can afford it in the first place).

However, if you don't have $2000-$3000 to invest in the BONI (or in Odyssey), you can keep an eye on the conferences you can reasonably get to for workshops involving crits from pro authors, agents, or editors. These are much less expensive (major workshops sometimes run only $200-$400 for four days of workshops and events). Or maybe the $500 for working with Lisa Rector on the first 50 pages is more doable. Frankly, I think her insight is worth every penny. So is Don's, but you can't just contract for it.

Also, I'm guessing you're pretty lucky to have polymath volunteer to take a look. *fingers crossed for you that poly will know exactly what you need*

Encouragement: 99.9% of published writers have had this experience. They pushed forward. So can you.

Cookies: virtual white chocolate macadamia?
Urban fantasy, epic fantasy, and hot Norse elves. http://margolerwill.blogspot.com/

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dios4vida
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Re: Not even a partial

Post by dios4vida » July 29th, 2010, 1:29 pm

Thanks guys for your input. To answer some questions:

Yes, I researched the agents and sent them everything that they asked for, and nothing more. All the rejections were forms.

I did post my query and synopsis on the feedback threads. Here is the query link: viewtopic.php?f=13&t=1696&p=17387#p17387

And here is the synopsis link: viewtopic.php?f=14&t=1702 (For some reason my synopsis didn't get many reviews...)

I appreciate all the encouragement and advice. I guess I just have a lot more work to do (sigh).
Brenda :)

Inspiration isn't about the muse. Inspiration is working until something clicks. ~Brandon Sanderson

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bigheadx
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Re: Not even a partial

Post by bigheadx » July 29th, 2010, 2:29 pm

17? Sheesh, I've got a special gmail QUERY REJ folder just bulging with rejections to queries for my crime novel.
Like you said, Never give up!

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Re: Not even a partial

Post by Emily J » July 29th, 2010, 2:41 pm

Okay, so i posted critiques of your query and your synopsis, I hope I can be of some help there, and hopefully some others will respond as well. You didn't receive a lot of responses to your synopsis, but sometimes things get pushed down on the forums and people don't see it. If that happens you can always repost.

But if I read your post right, you only sent out queries to 12 agents or publishers for your first manuscript? Another piece of advice then, when you are ready to query, query widely.

And as always, persistence persistence persistence!

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Re: Not even a partial

Post by AMSchilling » July 29th, 2010, 2:48 pm

Don't feel bad. Getting published is tough. It took Jim Butcher about two years to land an agent for his first Dresden novel, after getting rejected by all the publishing houses. He didn't get an offer off a query, either. He ended up meeting his first agent at a writer's conference, and convinced them to rep face to face. Now the guy can't fall off the NY Times bestseller list if he tried, when a new book comes out.

Need more? The first Harry Potter got rejected by 12 publishing houses. Stephen King claims he got 200 rejections before he got one "yes."

Hang in there. Some of the current fantasy/horror greats (IMO) took a royal beating before they got to see anything in print. Let polymath take a look under the hood since it was offered. See if anyone on the forum is looking for a crit. partner. If it's ready to go out, and the rejection isn't about anything you can change, fantastic. Query more, eat a cookie (or twelve) and wait for even more rejection to come in. The rejections don't matter if it's as good as it can be, because it only takes one query to come back as a yes.
-Amy

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Re: Not even a partial

Post by Krista G. » July 29th, 2010, 3:10 pm

I feel your pain, dios4vida. Same thing happened to my first manuscript. But there are a lot of people here rooting for you, so keep your chin up.

One (more) small piece of advice: If you haven't already, you might try querying a few agents who don't take e-mail queries. They get a lot less queries, for one thing, so you've got less competition. Also, these agents generally want to see a partial in the initial query, so you're already past step one. (I tried this with my first manuscript, and one of them actually turned into a full request!)

I'll PM you a few agents you might try (again, if you haven't already). But feel free to ignore me, if you want:)
Author of THE REGENERATED MAN (G.P. Putnam's Sons Books for Young Readers, Winter 2015)
Represented by Kate Schafer Testerman of kt literary
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dios4vida
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Re: Not even a partial

Post by dios4vida » July 29th, 2010, 7:58 pm

Thank you everyone for your advice and encouragement (and the virtual cookie!). I have more insight now, and a lot of things to think about. Every time I think I have this querying/publishing thing down something new hits me. I'm no newbie to this world but wow there's a lot still to learn.

I'll definitely spend some time going through all the comments and critiques (and I welcome more). I skimmed through and can tell there's are a lot of gems to be found. I've never had anyone edit my work this brutally, honestly, and intelligently. I'm so very excited and grateful to all of you!!

Now I have a decision, though - push on with this ms, or put it aside and work on my other WIP? Still not sure...

Thanks again, folks. You guys are totally awesome. :)
Brenda :)

Inspiration isn't about the muse. Inspiration is working until something clicks. ~Brandon Sanderson

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sarahdee
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Re: Not even a partial

Post by sarahdee » July 31st, 2010, 12:49 am

Don't be downhearted, if you don't even get requests for partials then its the query/synopsis that need work, not the ms. Post them again on here and every other site you can find, get feedback and send again when its prefect. Send to another batch of agents.

All of the agents (inc Nathan) say the amount of ms's they receive compared to ones they decide to rep is teeny. So that doesn't mean your isn't good, just someone else wrote a better query, timed their query when the agent was looking, had a story that agent thought they could market better!

Oh and about your whether to stay with it or move on, I asked this question and Nathan told me to keep on the present ms.

viewtopic.php?f=2&t=1782

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Ishta
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Re: Not even a partial

Post by Ishta » August 2nd, 2010, 2:29 am

If I'm reading this right, you've sent out 5 queries and received 5 rejections for this manuscript.

Is that all? I'm not trying to be glib, I'm just saying that you shouldn't be thinking about giving up after only 5 rejections on a manuscript. Take some time to make sure your query and synopsis are as good as they can be, and keep going until you've had at least 20, 30 more rejections. At LEAST. And eat lots of these peanut butter-chocolate chip cookies. :-)

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TigerGray
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Re: Not even a partial

Post by TigerGray » August 24th, 2010, 6:17 pm

My only advice is don't give up until you get one hundred rejections, at least.
"Who knows themselves better than the blind?' - for every thought becomes a tool." --Luis Borges

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