When am I really really rejected?

How many rejections is a lot of rejections? How many does it take before you worry it won't sell and/or your confidence in the strength of the book falters? My agent has gotten 7 rejections on my chick lit novel and, after initially being a great champion of the work, now seems to expect only more rejection. I really love this book and want it to have a chance. Has it been shopped/rejected by too many to take it to a new agent?

I went through my data base.
I know 65 editors who acquire some form of chick lit.
Unless those 7 rejections you’ve got are the top of the pyramid at each publisher (and my guess is they aren't), you've got a ways to go before you've talked to even half.

Figure you can talk to about half, cause you can’t really pitch someone else if his/her boss has already said no.

If you think your agent has lost enthusiasm, talk to her. Not email. Phone, or better yet, lunch.
Ask her if she'd rather not shop it.
The time to get out is sooner rather than later if enthusiasm is the only problem.
You don't want to have this discussion with her if she's unenthusiastically pitched your novel to 14 editors instead of 7.

What are the rejection letters saying?
Are you getting comments or just "not right for us".
What's the turn around time?

If you're getting comments, pay attention.
If you're getting "not right for us" ignore it.
(If your agent won't show you the rejection letters, fire her at once. I mean right then, on the spot)
If the turn around time is six months or longer, your stuff isn't at the top of the heap.

It's hard to think of giving up an agent once you've secured one, I know. But this is YOUR book, YOUR creative life. Believe in yourself and your work.


Ellen said...

It's interesting to hear you tell a writer they can look for another agent after their book has been sent to 7 editors. I was under the impression that once a book was shopped around, an agent wouldn't touch it. Is that considered a low enough number of submissions for the writer to interest a new agent? (Note that I'm asking this question because it's come up for several of my friends. Fortunately, I somehow managed to land the world's greatest agents. No offense, Miss Snark.)

Miss Snark said...

I think the intent of the original question was "how much shopping around" is too much. In my mind, 7 for a chick lit novel isn't much (absent info that each rejection was the actual publisher or something).

I've sold things other agents didn't. Other agents have sold things I couldn't. Sometimes it takes a fresh approach, a new pitch, a better understanding of the market, better contacts.

Unenthusiastic representation is not a good thing however and if she's going to part company with this agent, better to do so now than after 14 rejections, or 41.