9.01.2005

One hundred bottles of Snark on the wall, 100 bottles of Snark

Wonders a Snarkling who's totting up her rejection letters

What do you do after 100 rejections?

This follows an earlier post wherein I said you have to query 100 times before you give up.

This is a good question. Recalling I have a client with 81 rejection letters (neatly filed, bless his heart) and a contract from me, my point was it only takes one agent to say yes.

If you've got 100 rejections here's the first thing to do:

sort them into 1. Form letters and 2. Non form letters.

Then read what the non form letters say. Did anyone make suggestions? Did they tell you that your plot was stale, your hero sux, your paper smells bad (you'd be surprised all you cigarette smokers!) or something, anything that will give you some insight of why this duck isn't flying?

If you sent out 100 query letters and have NO feedback, you need to find someone who will read your work and tell you what's wrong - cause something IS wrong. From the Snarkometer pages you can see that there is divergence of opinion on SOME things, but not all. If you've got 100 agents essentially agreeing your work is such that they won't even write to say its good but not marketable...the problem isn't publishing, and it's not agents. Disagree if you will, but I believe that's the snarkly honest truth.

Enroll in a writing class, find a crit group, pay an editor, go to a writing conference.

Maybe the next round of Snarkometer should be reserved for people who have 30 or more rejections and we'll read ten pages. Is that a good idea? (It's not happening anytime soon if it is).

If you do have feedback, pay attention to it. Maybe you ARE writing the wrong thing. Maybe you're NOT a good writer. it's not a character flaw and it doesn't mean you're going to hell. Writing is a skill and can be improved. If you're not listening to what people tell you, and you're not making changes, or experimenting, you're behaving like a two year old who thinks saying "I want it" is the answer to "no".

My client with 81 rejections didn't send the same query letter each time. He varied it as people responded to him, and as he read books on query letters. If you simply send the same thing over and over again, you're on the road to madness.

One of the blog readers has his own blog called 756Agents and Counting. This has clearly become some sort of epic quest beyond the publication of the novel itself. I don't advise querying past 100 for any reason unless you're looking to be the Morgan Spurlock of publishing.

11 comments:

kitty said...

Glad you mentioned paying an editor.
Where do you find one?
How do you know you have a good one?
What is a reasonable ballpark fee?

rhonda said...

Don't some agents work directly with editors? A friend of mine found her editor through her agent.

I'm a freelance editor, and depending on the project, I either charge a flat fee or $15/hour. That's pretty reasonable, but then again, I'm still relatively new to the field. I imagine more well-known editors have higher fees.

Some editors charge by the page (e.g., $2/$3 for simple proofing, and higher for detailed line edits). It depends on how much editing you want and need.

I'm sure Miss Snark, as well as other authors who have used editors, could provide more information.

Anonymous said...

What about over 80 rejections including 10 seriously considered close calls from agents who say the writing is terrific but they're not sure of the market? I believe in what I'm dong. Should I query on still hoping to find the one and only? Or write I something else?

Christa M. Miller said...

I too work as a freelance editor.

Some advertise in writing zines like WD and Writer's Weekly. You could also try Googling.

You know they're a good fit via sample critique. The service I work for provides them (2-3 pages) for free. I pay careful attention to what they want (critique vs. line edits, for instance). I'm willing to listen to what they have to say about the crit, but ultimately, it's up to them whom they choose.

The service I work for charges between $2-$5 depending, as Rhonda said, on how extensive the edits will be. A critique only will be on the lower end of the scale, but a line edit that requires a lot of work (crits in addition to spelling, punctuation, and grammar errors) will be on the upper. Mine have tended to be somewhere in the middle.

Does that help, Kitty?

kitty said...

Yes, it does help. I'm leary of googling for an editor as I'd have no idea of who is a good editor and who isn't. What questions should I ask when choosing? Is there some sort of accreditation for editors?

Also, can't an editor do both a critique & line edit?

Anonymous said...

Should I query on still hoping to find the one and only? Or write I something else?

I think both. There's no reason to stop querying, it's mostly waiting for things to came back, anyway. Keep writing while stuff is out. And if you only want to write the same type of thing that you've been writing, then your heart won't be in anything else, right? On the other hand, people will probably tell you to write something else, and then when you're an established writer, you'll be able to sell the stuff that doesn't fit into a genre.

Kate R said...

Damn, you're good. No wonder people are so certain you're the Agent For Them without actually knowing who you actually are.

Gabriele C. said...

Paid editors are a problematic solution insofar as there are some nasty sharks in the pool who take a lot of money for a Song of Praise, but not much else. It happened to a member of a writer's forum: he paid an editor some 700 bucks, got the manuscript back with a few changed commas and a long letter how much she loved the book. The manuscript then bounced from several publishers, and he finally found said forum. When he posted some of his work, we could see the shortcomings any editor worth his/her salt should have noticed. The book was not publication material at that point, though not beyond getting there after a *real* edit/revision. The guy now is 700 bucks poorer and an experience richer. ;)

Is there any way to detect those sharks?

Anonymous said...

I was um actually sorta trying to be funny.
*hanging head in shame*
No more funnies before coffee.
Apologies and thanks for the wisdom.
Though in all honesty, I do have about 100 rejections on four or five different projects (some form some not) NOT 100 rejections on one project.

Christa M. Miller said...

Kitty, the editor I work for is a member of the Northwest Independent Editors Guild, and all the financial transactions go through her. I had to take a "test" to work for her - involved line edits and critique (and yes we CAN do both). I believe there are similar editor organizations. It's almost dinnertime here so give me a bit to research some for you. :)

She also has a website and I guess if I were looking for an editor I would ask questions based on tne info she provides. I personally have been asked about my experience (a few months), authors I've edited (none yet, though my boss recently had an author sign a deal), and genres I'm strongest in.

To me, the make-or-break part is the sample edit/critique. That's where you determine how well the editor matches what you are looking for, whether they seem to have a feel for both your needs and the work, etc.

Finding sharks - like agents and publishers, if they're shady or snippy or rude when answering questions, if their fees seem high and they won't tell you about their experience, if they won't provide a sample - run the other way. I'm not sure if any of us are represented at Preditors & Editors (SFF's site) but you could start there.

Edie Ramer said...

I'd love it if you have a 10-page Snarkometer. I missed sending in for the 1-page Snarkometer - sniff - and would jump to be in this one. (Yes, I do have the 30+ Rs.)