11.17.2005

One down. 99 zillion to go

A Snarkling reviews her correspondence stack and asks:

My previous novel, a historical along the lines of Bernard Cornwell's 'Sharpe' military adventures but in a different historical period, garnered a dozen form rejection letters from agents before I decided there must be something wrong with it and gave up. As the rejections were all form letters of the 'this is not for us' school, I don't know what was wrong with it, but I suspect that either the first few pages weren't successful in hooking interest or that the story as outlined in the synopsis wasn't good enough. While I was querying agents with this, I wrote another in the same setting and with some of the same characters but quite a different story. It would have been a sequel to the first, but it is an independent story and can stand alone. My question to you is: is it worth querying agents with this second novel (with no reference to the first), or does the fate of the first mean that the whole idea is unsaleable and I should try a different period or a different kind of book altogether?


That novel writing stuff is hard isn't it!
You're probably right that it was the first few pages (were agents reading only pages with a query or partials or the whole thing?) or the synopsis.

I encourage you to persevere. ONLY however after you've really worked on the second effort, the new one. Get some readers who'll give you good feedback.

Every novelist I know, EVERY one, tries to improve with each book. All of them have pages under the bed that will never see the light of day. This one will be yours, but ONLY if you really buckle down and read your work critically.

Your unspoken question is "am I too much like Bernard Cornwell; did agents think this wouldn't sell cause he's got the market locked up" and the answer is no.

Press on. Work hard. Bread and water till you fix the first chapter!

You might run the synopsis through the Crapometer when it returns and get some feedback here. Keep your eye peeled for when that starts up again-December.

3 comments:

Simon Haynes said...

I was stuck in a similar bind with my SF humour series. After shopping the first book to several publishers without success I knuckled down and wrote two more in the same series. I knew the characters backwards and they were great fun to write about, so how I could I do anything else?
The experience gained from writing the second and third books helped me fix up the first, and I'm glad to say the whole saga has a happy ending.
I really was stuck for a while, though. If they didn't like the characters, setting, style or genre of the first book, then they weren't going to like the rest of them, even if the quality of the writing improved.

Cornelia Read said...

If this fine snarkling is using "a dozen" in anything close to the LITERAL sense, here, I think she may have given up on the query process for this manuscript far too early. My first 50 queries garnered 30-something passes before I got a bite--most of them form rejections, fired off before I'd had a chance to gross the agent out with so much as a partial.

Having heard a lot of war stories, I figured that initial round of 50 agents wouldn't be the last I'd need to hit up, so just hoped I might get a few "personal" rejections to help me fine-tune things before shooting out my next batch of queries. I got lucky with round one, however, and I'm sure glad I didn't throw in the towel after the first dozen yawning "thanks, but not for us" responses.

brainlesionssuck said...

What a sweet post, Miss Snark. This person must be walking on air today.
Kathie at Houswifecafe.com