I have an acquaintance whose agent has given up subbing her manuscript after only 8 submissions because the agent says she has "run out of contacts."
Four of those tries resulted in revision requests, but each time, the revision was ultimately turned down at the acquisitions committee level; I haven't read this person's work, but it would seem to me that that level of response from the editors would indicate there's something worth considering about this project.
Am I crazy to think that 8 is not very many tries?
From a current Writer's Market, I identified well over 70 publishers who say they accept manuscripts of this particular genre, and while I realize that the subtle distinctions between houses mean that that number would have to be whittled down quite a bit, 8 tries still seems like a very small number to me.
Is it too simplistic to feel that it's part of an agent's job to MAKE contacts?
Wow, that agent must be really effective if s/he can sell things with only 8 contacts. I wonder if she's interested in sharing her secrets.
Writer's Market lists publishers by subject category so it's entirely possible MOST of those 70 houses aren't good places to sell THIS particular book. (Some houses only do reprints, or only do paperbacks, or only do three books a season and offer no money..yadda yadda yadda).
Knowing nothing but what you've said, my initial reaction is "wtf".
If I only pitched to people I knew I'd starve. KY too..and then the Humane Society gets involved, not to mention the Ninja Poodles of Central Park West, and really..it's just easier to suck it up and call strangers to pitch projects.
I can tell you the number of total strangers I called on the phone today cause I keep track of my COLD CALLS: 20.
I hate cold calls as much as the next person giving phone, but so what. It's part of the job.
There's more going on here than meets the eye. The agent sounds like s/he's losing steam. A lot of turn downs can do that. That's a very very tough place to be.