Three Rejection E-Mails Later….

It’s two weeks since I started querying literary agents with my book ‘The Kirkwood Scott Chronicles: Skelly’s Square,’ and I said I would keep you all regularly updated, so here goes. To date I have queried 15 agents, all of whom I chose after researching them online and judging they would be a good match for both myself and the novel. This has been a sizeable piece of work in itself.

Each agent has differing submission guidelines. Some ask for attachments, others that you cut and paste into the body of the e-mail. Some ask for the first 10 pages of the book, while others want 50. Some want this, and others demand that. It is a confusing and baffling world I have entered, and on more than one occasion I’ve queried the sanity of my actions. Is this really worth all the time and effort?

Especially since, to date, all I have received is three format rejection e-mails. The first one didn’t even name me. There has no feedback, no advice, nothing. Just cold, impersonal ‘thank you but no.’ Every time I see an e-mail in my inbox now, a clammy sweat breaks out across my back. People keep telling me I only need one agent to say ‘yes’, others that you’re not a real author until you receive at least 100 rejections.

I’ve braced myself for all this, of course, but it still niggles at my fragile self belief. I’m only human, after all. Yet, I’m remaining hopeful. I know the book will see the light of day, somehow, even if I ultimately have to go down the self-publishing route. It would be nice to be taken on by an agent but, in this ultra competitive market, I know it’s not the end of the world if I don’t. I’ll keep you all updated in the weeks and months ahead.

How do you handle rejection?

75 thoughts on “Three Rejection E-Mails Later….

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  1. Too many writers vying for too few agents. Throw in most of the writers are trying the traditional published route.

    If you want to get published, self-published is your best shot. The major online book sellers, Amazon, B&N, etc. offer print on demand options in addition to ebooks.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Just consider yourself in good company. It’s amazing how many famous writers, artists and even athletes were rejected or told they had no talent. Keep plugging away, and see if there’s any wisdom to be gained from the contents of the letters.

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  3. I’ve been down that route too. I’ve received several rejection emails. It’s part of the book publishing world, so you just have to stay strong and keep pressing forward.

    You could also try self publishing your book… Just saying.

    ~ Sam.

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  4. I started my writing journey back in 1989. I’ve been to conferences, workshops, and pitched to agents and editors. I hope you can find something that helps in my comments. Chronic illness has made my writing journey extra interesting.

    All literary agents have their own way of doing things. Each has a system that works for them. We give them what they want. Why? There are so many writers that don’t do their homework on submitting to an agent. They send a query letter to a romance agent a horror novel just because they believe their book is that good. It’s a mistake that happens often. Not addressing the query letter to the correct agent or misspelling the agent’s name.

    Sometimes a writer gets passed by an agent because they have a client who has a book out that is too similar to yours. They aren’t going to take on another client to be in competition with one they’ve already signed on. So, it isn’t always about your writing.

    Also, the traditional publishing world is small.
    The editor you make mad today could be the literary agent you submit to in the near future. Editors and agents switch like this every so often.

    There’s a saying: A bad agent is worse than no agent.

    When you do get feedback, see if there are points they have in common. That will help you get a clearer picture and a chance to tweak your query letter if need be. Signing with an agent is a business partnership that will hopefully be beneficial to both of you.

    I plan to submit to literary agents this year so I will be in the same position as you.

    As you wait, start on your next project.

    I wish you the very best and I pray you find the perfect agent.

    Blessings, Tambra Nicole

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  5. Keep busy. Get your next tranche of agent submissions ready for when these run out. submit to some of the indie presses that don’t require agents (they do exist – I’ve read reputable blog posts that list them, but haven’t saved links I’m afraid as I’m not there yet and these things change almost daily). There are competitions out there for novels too. Find some of those while waiting on agents’ replies.

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  6. It’s worth it. Do it. Hang in there. Hey … it’s only THREE rejections. Look up a few of your favorite authors & see how many rejections they got before they were published. I guarantee you, it was more than three.

    I had a wonderful sponsor back in the day, he used to tell me to take these kinds of rejections as a personal FUCK YOU & keep going just for that reason alone. (that works for me). He was an ad man … a senior copy writer from the Mad Man days. (a wife & two mistresses, I kid you not). But he knew his stuff. Man, I miss him.

    I wouldn’t even think of getting discouraged until your rejections start to number in the triple-digits.

    Oh & have you checked out Poets & Writers yet? http://www.pw.org

    Hugs

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  7. Personally, I handle rejection pretty horribly. I am really good at being very sensitive to a fault. Working on that. Recognizing that most of the time it’s not about me so to speak. You may want to check out Elizabeth Gilbert’s book “Big Magic”. She’s the author of “Eat, Pray, Love” and lots of other books that were not as tremendously received. I listen to those types of books when I run since I am not so great at reading them. Anyway, there is quite a bit about her personal journey and rejection(s). Help you stay in the game mentally, perhaps.

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  8. Rejection in any area of life requires a finely tuned emotional stance in order for it to not suck. Re: agents, I never used one until I was firmly established in my field and the contracts I was dealing with might have required one. I became established by forming relationships with the publishers themselves. I know you know this already, but there truly are great publishing opportunities with publishing houses that don’t require agents. And you needn’t go directly to self-publishing that way. My experience with agents has always been that I still did close to ALL of the legwork myself and then the agent got their fee. Sometimes you absolutely must have an agent. But there is so much you can do early on in your career that need not involve one. I know you already know all this! Just sayin’…… 🙂

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  9. Sometimes you have to hear a lot a no’s before you here yes! I’ve been through this several times but I still keep moving forward. I submitted articles and short stories and I heard no so many times. Guess what? Someone finally said yes. I’ve had my poems, articles, and short stories in newspapers and magazines. Still working on my manuscript though. It will happen for me and it will happen for you!

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Rejection is hard. Especially when you really want something. Even a rejected invitation for a coffee can be hard to receive.

    100 rejections? Wow. I hope you can keep positive and start writing your next book.

    How’s the manflu?

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  11. Whoever said “you’re not a real author until you receive at least 100 rejections” is full of condensed pigeon milk.

    We’re writers until we finish a work of written art, whereupon we become authors.

    As authors, if we choose to look for agents, we do so as potential employers, not as cap-in-hand, forelock-tugging mendicants.

    Authors of written art need to start thinking of themselves the same way as do artists in other media.

    Liked by 1 person

  12. Oh, I can’t like a post about rejection! But 3 out of 25 sent isn’t bad actually! That means there are still 22 out there…and you really only need one yes…will continue to send you positive vibes across the ocean…

    Liked by 2 people

  13. Just think, Dr. Seuss was rejected by 27 publishers before finally being published. And he is practically a legend today! Honestly, the support of all your adoring fans already lined up to buy and read your book should be a happy nudge in the right direction when you do get to sit down and begin negotiating a contract with the many yes’s I’m sure are soon to come! ❤❤❤

    Liked by 2 people

  14. I went through all that a few years ago, once I realised my agent of 25 years ago had got rather bigger with the addition of JKR to their rosta and weren’t really interested in getting reacquainted. But I persevered, and eventually got one, a big one, who was excited about my book. Then I heard nothing more for three months, until suddenly they sent some notes on the first few chapters, which I addressed. I then heard nothing more for another six months. Finally, after almost a year, they sent notes on the whole book, suggesting I change the protagonist, the age group, much of the plot, and could I lose the last 25% of it and take it in a different directionplease? They plainly hadn’t read the book until almost a year had passed, and I, in turn, passed, politely, then got it very quickly published by a small US operation. OK, it didn’t sell in its millions, but nonetheless I felt a whole lot better about it. With the second book I just went straight to self-publishing. It’s a lot of work to publicise it, and the jury is out as to whether I’m any good at that, but, again, I feel a whole lot better about it, and myself (mostly). After all, what is novel writing other than public therapy…?! Best of luck with it all, I am enjoying your blog, and feel your pain on many fronts! All the best, Alastair.

    Liked by 1 person

      1. I think these days it’s perfectly acceptable to go direct to the indies, but of course they have their own sets of rules, and it’s just as much of a minefield. Personally, if you want to go down the traditional route, I’d say persevere with the agents – they still hold a lot of power. Even in self-publishing you’re still dealing with those holding the power, but it’s book bloggers and not agents. Regardless of routes, there will always be gatekeepers, as perhaps there should always be!

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  15. I received 20-something rejections when I queried agents for my book. Most were cold and impersonal, but one said something slightly more direct like, “There was a lot of creativity in this, but the writing style wasn’t for me.” It’s hard. And I have now decided to step away from my book for a little while and am writing short stories to submit to magazines in order to hopefully establish some sort of publishing history. Hang in there and best wishes to you!! Just keep working for your dream!

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  16. Here’s what I’ve got to say about that:
    Chicken Soup for the Soul: 144 rejections.
    The book became a best-seller, and then a series, and now a multi-armed franchise. . . that actually sells soup. “If we had given up after 100 publishers, I likely would not be where I am now,” Canfield wrote. “I encourage you to reject rejection. If someone says no, just say NEXT!”

    Liked by 1 person

  17. Kathryn Stockett, The Help: 60 rejections from agents.
    “In the end, I received 60 rejections for The Help,” Stockett wrote. “But letter number 61 was the one that accepted me. After my five years of writing and three and a half years of rejection, an agent named Susan Ramer took pity on me. What if I had given up at 15? Or 40? Or even 60? Three weeks later, Susan sold The Help to Amy Einhorn Books.” The book was on the New York Times bestseller list for over 100 weeks, has sold over seven million copies, and has been made into a much-awarded film.
    I could keep going: Stephen King: 30 rejections for Carrie; John Grisham 28 rejections for A Time to KIll. You’re in good company, Stephen! Maybe you should start the sequel!

    Liked by 2 people

  18. I think I’d be angry…HOW COULD THEY LOL
    But it’s very tough market, if your book doesn’t fit right now in what they are publishing-then it’s clear no. I doubt they are reading text at all. Maybe if you’ll start your novel with “Fuck you!” He said to his agent…they’d be VERY INTERESTED 😂😂
    And yep, def u need only 1 who’ll say “yes” & it takes time. Nothing happens in first month…

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  19. I’ve been getting a lot of rejection from job applications lately and I think the more rejection you get the less it affects you. But you just need to remember that you only need the one 🤞 x

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  20. It is true it only takes one, but definitely not easy. I also greatly apologize for being delayed in getting back to you on your precious chapters. I really do want to go over them, it seems something always comes up or I don’t feel mentally in the space to give decent feedback.

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