When is enough?

Dear Oh-So-Wise Miss Snark:

How many agent rejections (based on partials or full ms, not queries) should a person receive before they stop banging their head against the wall?

I know one could persist forever, hoping that the rejectors all just wrong -- and who knows, maybe they are -- but when would a more rational person stop?


If you're getting form letter rejections of full and partials, you need fresh eyes. Time for some beta readers with teeth.

If you're getting personal letters, and phone calls and liveried footmen delivering engraved calling cards that say "I love your writing but this particular book isn't for me" you're on the right path.


Anonymous said...

I'm with you. I have received ten requests for the entire manuscript out of some 30 queries. So far, six with that "I love this novel but do not think I can sell it," or "not right for my list." Pretty good ratio. So I persist, wait, and plan.

Anonymous said...

Yep. It's a somewhat dubious comfort when I get repeated, "You have strong writing and obvious talent, but this book didn't make me sit up and sing." Okay, so I ama good writer who writes boring books.

Switch manuscripts. Try another. Keep going!

Twill said...

Hmmm. My dobie would enjoy a little livered footman. Yum.

Anonymous said...

livered footman - Good one!

Anonymous said...

Believe me, getting to "strong writing" "I loved this story but can't sell it" is great progress. I had to do a bzillion rewrites and learn from many rejections to get to that point. And Dog bless the agents who took the time to make comments that helped me get to that point. Without their help, I'd still be getting "not right for my list" which translated means: liked the idea in the query but your writing sucks.

Definitely write another novel - one that you know will sell - and keep your beloved first novel nearby and hope the market changes or that you make a name for yourself it eventually gets published.

No matter what: Keep believing in yourself.

Anonymous said...

I've gotten like fifteen rejections and no one is interested, but I've only sent one partial out, the rest just query letters. Writing the novel was easier than writing the query letter, so I'm still trying to get a query letter that will get people interested. Still not giving up until I start querying for my second novel

ORION said...

Well...I never let a little thing like 70 rejections for three projects get in the way of my ambitions.

Anonymous said...

"I've gotten like fifteen rejections and no one is interested"

If this keeps up, I suggest you go to agentquery.com and parody one of their examples on query letters. Also, if you haven't done so, read the Snarkives - there is a wealth of information (and humor) within.

phoenix said...

Well...I never let a little thing like 70 rejections for three projects get in the way of my ambitions.

And now, as I hear it, Orion, you have a much-acclaimed debut novel out. That you have accumulated so many rejections is certainly inspiration to us all!

Anonymous said...

If I've gotten 10-20 rejections in a row, I always take a hard look at my query letter and edit it. Often, just rewriting a few sentences works and you start getting requests for partials. Which is a start. But that's about as far as I've gotten in my quest for publication.