Wednesday, October 07, 2009

Questions I decided to answer because they were easy to find in my overflowing email account

Questions for The Rejecter...

1. Is there a support group for people with completed manuscripts and six rejections from agents?

Only six? Definitely not. You need like 50 rejections to qualify for terminal depression - for several manuscripts submitted over many years. At which point the support group would be called, "How to Find a New Hobby."

2. How many rejections received would be the equivalent of a “universal hell no” ?

I have no idea. Less that 40%. I'm just throwing out a number here, but most are just average manuscripst that don't sound compelling or wouldn't sell as a book or are the wrong genre for the agent. There are much less that are really, really terrible.

Edit: IF you meant how many rejections from an individual writer would be a universal "hell no" form me, the answer is probably infinity because if you submit another book a year later and don't mention the previous one I probably won't remember you.

3. What percentage of literary agents attempted writing and after receiving a barrage of rejections, changed careers and became the rejecter.

Very few. A lot of people in publishing are aspiring writers, but most of the agents I've met are not. Agenting is a sales position, with pitches and finances. That turns a lot of writers off. I know a lot of editors who are also writers, but no agents that I can think of.

4. If you trash 95% of the submissions, does it really matter if my Query Letter sucks?

If your query letter sucks, you will get rejected. If your query letter is awesome, it will earn you a request for a partial. It's that simple. The 95% is just the amount of people who send in query letters that are bad, not your chances.

5. Do literary agents where black sunglasses with black suits like in The Matrix?

No, they dress normally. Kind of office casual when they're not meeting with clients or editors and standard office suits/skirts/pantsuits when they are.

Any direction on the support groups would be appreciated, If I can’t find one I was thinking about starting one. Do you have any suggestions for names of my support group?'s forums are pretty good. Both budding writers and hopeless cases there.


Rebecca said...

Thanks for answering these. I found myself asking almost the exact same questions just five minutes before I read them! Amazing! However, I did find one question that was missing, and I can't believe you missed it. You were so right on with all the others.

So here's my question:
If you're fortunate enough to have a few agents reading the full in addition to a handful of other agents reading sample chapters, at what point do you panic and say "they think it sucks." One week? Two weeks? Two months?

Thanks to querytracker's Submission Response Times, I've noticed that most agents reply almost right away if they like something, but the longer they wait, the more likely it's a rejection. So, I'm hoping that the beginning of October is just a really busy time for agents, seeing that it's the end of the quarter, and aren't royalty statements going out right about now?

Anonymous said... is a good place to find support from other writers as well as query + 1st chapter critiques

Anonymous said...

Try the absolutewrite forums if you need support.

Anonymous said...

Looks like asker #2 was asking you how many rejections *s/he* should receive before assuming s/he had received a universal "hell no" on his/her mss.

My personal answer to that would be: when you've queried everyone who is interested in the kind of thing you've written.

EdinNJ said...

There have been a number, face-to-face, mutual aid support groups for writers. I recall one here in New Jersey that was called "RAW" - Rejected Authors & Writers." which met at the local public library.

Take care and hope,

- Ed

N.J. & American Self-Help Group Clearinghouses

_*rachel*_ said...

You can find a few blogs where people post query letters and cry. Personally, I think it's a bit stupid (like if you use your real name), pointless, and depressing.

Good to see another post, Rejecter! I missed you.

Anonymous said...

Deirdre Knight is both a writer and an agent. So is, I believe, Lois Winston. I'm sure there are a few others. But these aren't ones who became agents after failing as writers - they're both quite successful in both venues, AFAIK.

Anonymous said...

Nathan Bransford is also a writer and agent. As is Lucienne Diver.

Only six? Definitely not. You need like 50 rejections to qualify for terminal depression - for several manuscripts submitted over many years. At which point the support group would be called, "How to Find a New Hobby."

This is utter crap. It's not unusual to write three or four books before actually being able to write at a publishable level, and if you submitted queries for each of those early novels, you might well have many dozens of rejection letters. My fourth novel received well over 50 before landing an agent. The previous three received dozens themselves before failing to find a representative. If you give up just because you receive rejections, I guarantee you won't be published.

I rarely say someone is absolutely wrong, but in this, Dear Rejecter, you are.

Anonymous said...

Anon previous, I think the Rejector was implying 50 rejections for EACH of the several manuscripts mentioned.

Granted, she didn't word it clearly--but relax; it's good for your regularity.

Anonymous said...

forget If you want support head over to the social networking portion of AgentQuery. I have never met so many good-natured, useful people (and I am not being sarcastic here).

Anonymous said...

I would actually counsel against While you can get some information from that site, it can be difficult, and there is a very defensive quality to many of the long time members. I think it comes from them having to put up with a lot of trolling, but it can mean that they will get easily frustrated with newcomers.

Someone else recommended I will second that. Also for a nominal fee you can join Backspace Writers Forum, which has agents, editors, and NYTimes bestsellers all supporting each other and discussing the craft.

Anonymous said...

I would shoot for more like 100 rejects before abandoning a ms. And after the 100 rejects, try the small houses. And if that doesn't work, go POD. Then write something new that doesn't suck.

Anonymous said...

I cracked up at #5. Rejecter... even though I don't write fiction, or even manuscripts (I do write a lot of articles and essays) I read your blog mostly because of your great sense of humor.

John Kingsbury said...

Paul Santhouse at Moody Press referred me to your blog and I know I have found something of value so I thanked him for the lead.

If you have an agent who is representing a book, but declined representation of two other books which he liked because his agency is representing similar books would you go for a second agent or ask the first agent to represent your books and hold the marketing of those books in abeyance until the conflict of interest is resolved in your favor?