Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Submissions and Rejections

You are a reputable and sought-after agency, and you receive a query from an aspiring writer. You request a partial, then decline politely, using a form letter (no doubt a nice one). Aspiring Writer swallows her dismay, and submits something else. Same result. And again. At what point should Aspiring Writer sigh and say, "It was not meant to be"? Would you ever say, "Please stop sending me queries" (which translates to, "You can't write")? Do you keep a list, and flinch when you see a particular return address? Or will you allow Aspiring Writer to keep submitting indefinitely, in the shared hope that her writing is improving and eventually she'll get it right?

Thank you!

A lot of the authors I represent now were rejected at one point or another . . . by me. If you've done your research and you know for a fact that the agent you are targeting represents the work you are writing, then I see nothing wrong with continuing to submit to her. Bear in mind, however, that names do start to become familiar and we do keep lists of our submissions and rejections. So if you are getting rejected and do decide to resubmit, make sure that the next book is even stronger than the last. And, if the agent took the effort to give you a detailed rejection, then really make the effort to hear and understand what she said and see that your next submission matches that.

Also bear in mind that your work can very well be publishable, but I might not be the right agent to make that happen. It's always best to read some of the books that an agent represents and target as many agents as possible. Finding an agent is so often about finding that person who truly understands your work.

Truth though . . . I have asked authors to stop submitting to me. They are usually the ones who don't pay attention to what I'm representing and get belligerent because of the letters I'm sending. With some there seems to be an idea that because they've sent me so much work I owe them representation.



Unknown said...

with so much free information, it still amazes me that people can't do basic research. If you don't care what an agent represents and just want to send it anyway, research will ALSO tell you if they're legit, a scam artist or on the P&E list. Complaints usually mean some deeper problem.

And thanks for addressing these last couple of questions. I really like this blog. :)

Anonymous said...

Thanks for addressing this issue...I have about five or six agents that I'm fairly certain might fit my work -- and I do repeatedly query them. I've had other unpublished writers say that I shouldn't be doing that -- but when they continue to request partials and fulls, I can tell I'm getting closer (I hope). And for those writers who only send to each agent once, it doesn't take long before they've exhausted their possibilities, and then what?

elysabeth said...

I have to agree having just gone through a basic agent query with a friend of mine - she submitted to an agent whom she knows (or is an acquaintance of) and she is going to submit to several more. I did find that the Agent Query website is really good because you can search for agents in particular genres and narrow your field down and most have their web pages linked to the site so if you click on the agency name you can get all kinds of information regarding submission guidelines, et cetera -

if you are unsure of something - you can do a generalized query search as well - Although this is not all inclusive it is a good starting point since it will help an author find the agent who is looking at similar works to your own - the website is - -- hopefully by using some simple research techniques the authors can find the right agent and the right agent means possibly finding the right publisher (I can't wait to hear that my friend's book/series has been accepted and is ready for publication. I keep telling her to query this group of agents as I believe you all fit her works - and I've met Jacky once and I've met several authors that she represents.

So maybe her book will make it across one of your desks and she will be on her way to being published soon - I will keep pressing for her to query this group since I know she has two completed novels already and several in the works - E :)