Can I give up yet?

Dear Miss Snark,

I have queried every agent I can find who accepts fantasy-genre submissions for my first novel. I have recieved 28 rejections so far. Of the agents rejecting me, 13 had seen a partial (3 requested a partial after getting the query letter, the others all required a partial as part of the initial query). I have 8 more agents out there who haven't gotten back to me yet. After so many agents rejecting my work after having actually read part of it, is the writing pretty much on the wall for me? No agent gave me any feedback, except for the standard "not right for me" or "I'm not the right agent for this" phrases. After 13 agents reject your work after reading a partial, is it time to conclude that one's book is just plain crap and will most likely never be picked up by anyone? Or should I still cling to some small ray of hope?

You need some beta readers or a crit group.
Something is clearly wrong if you're not getting anything beyond "not right for me".
You might take a shot at the crapometer coming up, and avail yourself of the info in the previous crapometers in the Snarkives.


Anonymous said...

i like it

Anonymous said...

domani se non piove esce una bella giornata

Anne said...

You might consider putting it away for a while and work on other stories (hopefully you've been doing this while querying). Come back to it in a year or two and you'll probably have grown as a writer. You'll undoubtedly have gained a more objective perspective. You might be able to judge it better then. The whole story might be salvagable or just parts, but you'll need to grow apart from the story first.

Maria said...

Since your work is sci-fi/fantasy, try Baen's bar. It's free. They are brutal, but fair and give out pretty good advice. You can put a first chapter out there and get critiques from people that read and write in that genre. (Do not post the entire book!)

Make sure you study the bar first--there are protocols and you want to make sure and post your chapter in the right group. If you do not, you will be razzed before you even get started.

The bar is registration only, so it isn't opened to the eyes of the general public.

Bugwit Homilies said...

Critiquecircle.com, baby!

Anonymous said...

Not to be unkind, but the fact that you've used a few cliches in your letter to Miss S (writing on the wall, ray of hope) indicates that the writing may be a bit stale. Definitely try to get some good, critical readers to take a look at it.

I wouldn't give up this soon though.

HawkOwl said...

Dude - I respect you for trying. Good luck.

uurky - hopefully not what the agents really said when they read your partial.

waylander said...

There are way more than 28 worthwhile agents to try in the fantasy field. I'm up over 40 and not finished yet.

Kimber An said...

I second what Anne and bug said. Maria's advice is good too, but you're heart probably isn't ready for it! Get thee to Critique Circle and get a group of cyber-friends together. When you feel comfortable, start submitting for crit. I have been so amazed at the help I received there. You'll find all kinds there too. Grammer Gurus (I have a love-hate relationship with them.) Fellow fantasy writers. Critters good at tracking the flow. Critters good at tracking character development. All kinds. And they're very encouraging too, because they're in the same boat. A bunch of them are even already published.

Sha'el, Princess of Pixies said...

crapometer.blogspot.com try it.

Ryan Field said...

keep on revising and changing things. If you've gotten this far it sounds like there's interest, but a piece of the puzzle is missing. I once had an agent request a partial after the query, and then asked for a full. This was a Friday; I e-mailed it promptly that afternoon. It was an excellent week for other projects and I didn't give it a second thought for the rest of the weekend. On Monday morning I received an e-mail that read something like this: I loved the manuscript, but then I gave it to my daughter who is a junior in college. She loved it, too. But when I asked her if she'd recommend it to friends of hers she hesitated. It was that hesitation that made my decision to pass on this book. Best of luck.

So much for feedback. Don't sweat it; you haven't hit a wall. Sometimes shelving a project for a while, and then going back later is very helpful.

Anonymous said...

:waving her cane:

Whoa, thar, Sonny-Jim, you ain't even started yet!

Two years of the submission process, memorizing the 808 section of the library, going through 7 publishers, a number of agents, 25 rewrites of chapter one, 2-3 full rewrites of the whole book, five beta readers, not taking no for an answer, AND working on books two and three eventually got me my first big sale--off the slush pile, an agent came aboard later.

This was before I had the resources of the Internet.

First draft in longhand written on a clipboard, then the joys of a typewriter, White Out, using the dictionary and thesaurus as books not buttons.

So stay at it. You've got resources I could only dream about. Try posting on Absolute Write for feedback. Baen's Bar? Gooood place to be. It's twenty+ booksales later and you betcha I use 'em now!

Good luck.

Jenna Black said...

It would be a great pity to give it all up after only one book, no matter how many rejections that book garners. My "first" novel, which is coming out in September from Tor, was actually the 18th novel I'd completed. After going through all that toil and rejection, I now have four books under contract. A writing career is a marathon (or maybe even one of those iron-man races), not a sprint.

Stuart said...

/perks up

Did she say crapometer coming up?


Elektra said...

I think I'm going to have to start paying Sha'el for her endorsements. Perhaps a rooster-hit-man as a thank you?

yet another anon said...

Jenna Black, bless you, your comment will keep me going the rest of my life. I am going to print it out backwards and paste it to my forehead so I'll see it every time I look in the mirror. Seriously. You have no idea how much I needed to hear exactly that, exactly now.

It's not a sprint. It's a marathon.

Sherry Decker said...

'waving her cane' wrote wisely. Also, are you a member of a writer's group that meets regularly (like at leeast once a month)? If not, join one or start one and listen to what they say, even though their comments may sometimes come as a shock - sometimes you'll think they're mean (or wrong!) but consider what they say. 3/4 time they're onto something. Writing is tough, but it's what we do. Don't give up. Good luck.

Bloor Street said...

Critique always kicks my butt into gear and reminds me that there is always room to revise and rework. I also like the idea of putting on a shelf and working on something else for a while - good idea Anne - that helps me get a fresh perspective :)

Anonymous said...

Punch it up a little. There maybe 28 agents in the field, I bet you'll find more. Just a interjection note: If your at a loss try the writer's market.

Ha ha - It is not a good laugh book but it - the book, is priceless.

Yahzi said...

Don't forget Internet Critters. They are another good critique org.

I have 12 rejections and 1 half-hearted request for a partial, with 24 agents yet to respond. At this point I am prepared to acknowledge I need to write a different book to attract a publisher. I am having trouble with the "we want different" and the "it's too different" thingy.

I hope I don't need to write 18 novels, though. That's just... wow. Seriously wow! And impressive.

Waylander: send me your list, and I'll send you mine. :D

Annie Dean said...

"Can I give up yet?""

This will not be a popular response. If you can, you should. Why? Because you don't have the determination and drive to succeed. If you are in it for the long haul and you can take rejections without becoming embittered, then no, you shouldn't give up. Possibly it's not your writing; it's just this book. If that's the case, you need to give up on this book, but not your writing.

"It's not a sprint. It's a marathon."

This is so, so true. Beautifully put.

I have a post up today on my blog related to rejections and starting writers. I think it's very timely. Maybe take a look at that too.

Waylander said...

I'm fine with that, Yahzi

Lynne said...

Ryan Field's story of why an agent passed on his manuscript reminded me of the interview Robin Friedman did with Steve Meltzer of Dutton Children's Books. One of her standard questions is "Do you ever love a book that you have to turn down? Why?" He said,
"Sometimes there are stories that you love but will not sell - at least not in the quantities needed to publish a book. There was one manuscript that I thought was beautiful and I remember telling it to my daughter as a bedtime story. She made me repeat the story night after night."

I've thought of this often, how his daughter heard someone's story night after night, but it wasn't one he felt he could publish.

sex scenes at starbucks said...

Can't say enough good things about Baen's Bar--most of the readers there are your competition, so they know what they're talking about.