It’s a fact of life for publishing–everyone gets shot down at some stage in the game. Editors, agents, authors–it’s part of the business. But when you’re querying, it can seem like the rejections are neverending. The frustration occurs not necessarily because you’re getting a no, but because you can’t always know WHY you’re being rejected.
When you’re agent-hunting, here are 10 questions to ask after you’ve received 10 nos (before 10, you just haven’t tried enough agents to be thinking about getting discouraged).
- Are you thoroughly researching the agent and agencies you are sending to? For example, Waxman handles a lot of top-shelf nonfiction, but Byrd and I also represent novelists.
- Does the specific agent you are querying represent your genre?
- Are you only approaching senior agents at your desired agencies? Expand your search to include agents whose lists may be more open and your response rate could go up.
- Does your query have any big DON’Ts on it? (rambling letter; confusing concept; picture of you/your kids/your dog; no contact info; calling your work “the next Harry Potter”)
- Are there too many competitive titles currently crowding the genre?
- Is it a viable market? Certain genres come in and out of vogue. For instance, memoir is very crowded right now, so your query would have to be exceptionally strong to catch an agent’s eye. Chick lit is a tough sell, so you’ll have a harder time there. If you are in a tough market, you will get more “nos” on your way to a yes.
- Is your word count too low? (below 60K for an adult project)
- Is your word count too high? (above 120K; of course there are exceptions, but anything too high could make us pause before requesting)
- Are you straddling too many genres/markets to be appropriately sold into one?
- Is this your strongest possible draft of the query and the work?
Filed under: Holly Root | 15 Comments