Friday, January 16, 2009


3 years
4 books
119 queries (over 3 books)
7 requested partials
4 requested fulls
85 rejections
27 no answers after 1 year
7 current queries outstanding (sorry guys!)

But the most important statistic:
1 YES!

What I've learned in just about 3 years of querying.

--The book you think is ready for prime time probably isn't. I spent a year sending out 48 queries for a novel that was absolutely not ready. The fact that I got only one partial request, 35 form letter rejections, and 12 non-responders was a big clue. The book that got the most attention was novel number 3. Out of 19 answered queries for that manuscript, there were 5 requests for partials, and 4 requests for fulls. That alone tells me something about the difference between the two books.

--Queries are hard to write. Find a critique group, read agent blogs to find advice specific to writing a good query and a good pitch paragraph. The query that finally resulted in an offer or representation was in its 10th revision.

--Patience is more than a virtue, it's essential in this game. But so is persistence. Giving up means the answer is no.

--An agent is only the beginning. An important beginning, yes, but now comes the hard part. Up until now, I've been writing only for me. The only expectations and deadlines I had were self imposed with no consequence if I didn't meet them. Now the game changes, and as professionally as I approached my writing before, I need to double that.


  1. If you can afford it, you could always join the growing community of Indie Authors and self publish or go the Print On Demand (POD) publishing route. You'll most likely make more money per book sale that way than you would with a traditional publisher. Also, if you ever do manage to land a contract with a traditional publisher (good luck with that) you'll still end up having to do most of your own marketing and promotion anyway and they may even put restrictions on how you go about doing that. Another advantage of self publishing or POD is that you maintain all rights to your book. Anyway, just thought I'd drop my 2 cents worth into the pot. :-)

    Wishing you much success with your writing which ever way you go.

    Gary Val Tenuta
    Author of The Ezekiel Code

  2. Gary--I am well aware of POD and self-publishing options. I've done just that with my poetry collection. The largest drawback to self publishing (even more than the need to be your own publicity team, marketing and distribution team) is the lack of editorial oversight.

    Writing a novel is difficult, but not impossible. Seeing your own blindspots and doing the hard work needed to edit a manuscript into publishable shape is extremely challenging.

    Having an agent and an editor that can do that work with you is, to paraphrase a credit card commercial: Priceless.

  3. And after further reflection, if an author is going to go the self-publishing route, the book they should work with is not the book that gets dozens of form letter rejections, but the book that garners requests for partials and fulls, but doesn't garner representation.


    Because the requests mean the writing is likely clean and the story promising. And the rejections may only mean that the writer is not querying the right agents(my advice: query widely), or that the book may be just enough off the beaten path that the publishing world doesn't want to take a chance.

    The publishing world is neither angel nor devil and POD is neither publishing's salvation or its demise. The truth probably lies somewhere in between.

    I admire writers who have the drive to self-publish, but going it alone is not for me and would drain too much from my creative energies.