Adventures in Query-Land

Hi, there, Scribe fans. Suze here. By now you’ve probably read Sugar’s post from a few days ago about the process she went through over the last year, ultimately culminating in her getting a fab agent and an even fabber three-book deal. (Click here to read it). Since I’m in the same spot she was a year ago, querying and hoping to land an agent and sell my manuscript, I thought I’d give you a run-down on how things are working for me.

Despite the fact that I completed this manuscript a couple of years ago, I was never satisfied with the opening chapters and so I only submitted it a couple of places, and was summarily rejected. After rewriting Chapter One about eight times and tightening up my timeline this past summer, I finally had it where I thought it was marketable. I wrote a query letter and a synopsis, fixed them both with the help of colleagues/friends, and finally began the query process in earnest in September. As one of my favorite rerun detectives, Adrian Monk, might say, here’s what happened.

September – Queried seven agents/editors (two of these were requests from a conference). Two requests for partials.

October – Queried three agents. Two requests for fulls. Two form rejections. One rejection on a partial, but a very nice one (bummer! She liked it overall, loved aspects of it, but she just didn’t love it enough).

November – Queried four agents. Felt like I needed to get some energy moving on stagnant requests, so embarked on closet-cleaning and clutter-clearing in an effort to feng shui my writing career. Unfortunately, this did not have the desired results: Received one rejection on a full because she wasn’t representing my genre, but suggested I submit to another agent in the office. Then received one rejection on a partial because she wasn’t representing my genre, but she “loved my voice” and would be interested in a YA or contemporary if I ever wrote one of those. 

December – Queried three digital-first presses. One rejection on a full, but she did have nice things to say. Depressed! I really wanted that one.  One form rejection. Two requests for fulls.

So the three-month tally is:

  • 17 submissions
  • 7 rejections (none of them mean!)
  • 2 partials still out there (not counting the partials that were sent pursuant to agents’ submission guidelines)
  • 2 fulls still out there
  • 6 queries that have not been acted on one way or another

Kathryn Stockett’s The Help was reportedly rejected 60 times. Harry Potter was rejected by 12 publishing houses. I’m not in the depths of despair yet!

Where are you in your writing journey? Where do you want to be?

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14 thoughts on “Adventures in Query-Land”

  1. Suze, thanks for those details. They are something to look forward to, rejection mode, unless I decide to e pub. It must be tiresome to have a manuscript in the form of a boomerang. Fortunately I am still in the write mode, not anywhere close to submissions. I do have a deadline. To have a completed and edited manuscript by the RWA conference in July. Then we’ll see.

    1. I will take the Golden Rings and maybe the Lords-a-Leaping (which you only implied), as long as they are rich and good-looking!

    1. Thanks, Joy! I’m not too down about the rejections so far. Honestly, they’ve all been very nice and encouraging, even though they were a no. And there are so many options to get my work published, it’s just a matter of time! Can’t wait to read your fiction book! When’s that coming out?

  2. I know how frustrating that ride can be, Suze. I had a total of about 50 rejections between Savage Cinderella and On Thin Ice. I finally figured out that with the amount of time I was spending writing/honing synopses and query letters, not to mention the countless hours and stress of researching who to submit/pitch to, I could actually be running my business and making money at my writing, which is what my goal was going into this to begin with. I do believe that persistence is the key, no matter which way you choose to publish. If your heart is set on a trad publisher, keep at it and don’t let the “no’s” slow you down. Just think about how sorry they will all be when someone picks up this fabulous story and it sells like hot cakes!

    1. Eh, I’m not really frustrated, yet. Seventeen submissions isn’t that many, and everybody’s been nice so far. I decided to give traditional a go for a few months on this manuscript, since I did some soul-searching and realized that I would always regret it if I didn’t try. But I’m open to all the different options out there for publishing. I’ve seen indie work for you, and for lots of my writer friends, and I ain’t arguing with success!

  3. To me the toughest part is not writing a novel (I’m on the third one, besides my self-pub memoir), but writing a query and synopsis that would GRAB an agent/editor so they can’t let go. I have about two thousand versions. I must be missing the particular gene for it. Hope this makes you feel better. :)

    1. My spirit is nowhere near broken yet, ZsuZsa! Keep the faith for your novels/queries/synopses too. CTRWA is the best resource out there for us–do you have a partner or mentor there?

      1. Thanks for asking, Suz, not yet, but since my current novel has turned into a YA (quite unexpectedly) I just joined a critique group of multi-published writers of children’s and young adult books right here in my hometown of Guilford. They’ve been together for 25 years! For an individual mentor I will definitely look among “our own CTRWA kind”! :)

  4. Great effort, Suze. Keep with it!! I finished my first ms a few years ago, prompty entered it into my first writing contest and won first place overall. I was certain to be an overnight success, right? Not. Anyway, I queried two agents and received one request for a full and one no answer. The full was rejected in a form letter. As a result of the contest, an editor had requested the full, which she rejected in a very nice two-page letter a few months later. I didn’t feel equipped at the time to keep querying. Besides, I wanted to focus on writing. I outlined my next ms and wrote the first third of it before hitting a brick wall. I worked through it by reading a dozen more writing craft books under my belt and brainstorming a myriad of ideas, one of which developed into my current WIP. I began writing it in September and I’m about a week from finishing. It should be polished and shiny by mid January.

    I’m researching and querying agents for the first ms and the current one in 2012. I’m much more confident and versed in this business than I was two years ago. Good luck to you, Suze, and I look forward to hearing of your future successes!

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