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What to do if your novel keeps getting rejected, but those that read it love it?

Discussion in 'Writing Discussions' started by hnorwood, May 12, 2013.

  1. hnorwood

    hnorwood Dreamer

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    I am at a complete stand still with my novel. Those who have read it "all" told me they could not put it down. Even those who bought it off of Amazon.com for their kindles. Yet, I am continually rejected by agents. I have re-written my cover letter and synopsis and followed the guide lines according to writers market. Any suggestions?
     
  2. Jamber

    Jamber Sage

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    Hi hnorwood,

    It seems to me (FWIW) that casual readers will factor price into the way they perceive a story. That is, they're happy with some patchy elements (typos, malapropisms, stale ideas, whatever) as long as the story has something they want.

    By contrast, agents don't want value for money but something they can ask top price for. That means professional editing, proofing, and all the other glamour on top of the trade requirement for an astonishingly new idea that somehow perfectly fits a zeitgeist or genre. This probably holds true for publishers as well (especially these days).

    Of course, you may have written a fantastic book and have polished it to a state of near-perfection. Even then there's so much that has to be right for an agent to take you on (personality, style, a gap in their schedules). If your book is as good as its readers suggest, then keep shopping it around. So much has to 'click' with agents -- the more who have the chance to read it, the better.

    It's almost at the point where we need agents to acquire agents...

    Good luck,
    Jennie
     
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  3. Steerpike

    Steerpike Felis amatus Moderator

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    I agree with what Jamber said, and will also point out that there are plenty of reasons besides the work itself that an agent might reject something.
     
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  4. skip.knox

    skip.knox toujours gai, archie Moderator

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    How long have you been trying? Plenty of people try for years before succeeding in getting an agent.

    Moreover, if you have already published on Kindle, I'm not sure anyone's going to touch it. It's already been published.
     
  5. psychotick

    psychotick Auror

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    Hi,

    I was going to say exactly the same thing. If the book's published agents aren't going to touch it. It's fairly much game over for that book. However if you want to go through the trade publishing route then there's nothing to stop you doing it with another book. Agents will of course try to judge whether they want to handle you based on your previous published works though. So if your first book sells well that's good to throw into your letters.

    Also do realise that agents will pick up authors based on a number of factors and how good the work is will be only one of them. There's also how well it will sell, if it's in one of the genre they handle,and most, most importantly, if the cover letter etc meets their requirements. I cannot emphasise this last one strongly enough. The letter you send is vital. It must be completely error free and read well. Ignore what the writers guide says the submission must be. Send the submission according to what the agent requires. The submission must meet their requirements exactly. If they say they want the first fifty pages double spaced, don't give them sixty pages one and a half spaced. And make certain that you only submit you letters to agents who deal with your genre.

    Then too as others have said most people probably never even get an agent and of those who do, most likely have to suffer through years of the process. So don't give up.

    Cheers, Greg.
     
  6. Steerpike

    Steerpike Felis amatus Moderator

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    That's not always true. My book was self-published for a year, which I disclosed to an agent I was talking to, and she said that didn't matter and she'd look at it anyway.

    There are authors who self-published on Amazon who later picked up agents and traditional publishers for the same work they self-published. If I'm not mistaken, Michael Sullivan, who posts her from time to time, self-published his books before his current traditional publisher published the same works. I think the landscape is changing pretty rapidly.

    If you have eBooks up on Amazon and no one is buying them, I suspect getting the interest of a traditional publisher will be harder.
     
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  7. AnnaBlixt

    AnnaBlixt Minstrel

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    I started with self-publishing. Through that route, I made contact with a new publisher. The inital deal with the publisher was for the already-published novel plus its unpublished sequel. It is by no means "over" for a novel if you have already published it, but you might want to get to work on a new novel nevertheless. Use the critiques from the first one to reinforce your strenghts and reduce your weaknesses.

    If you get another novel published, you can revisit the possibility of a republish of the first one at a later time.
     
  8. PaulineMRoss

    PaulineMRoss Inkling

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    I'm not even sure why anyone would want to spend time looking for an agent and a traditional publisher if the book is already self-published. You've done the hard work already, it seems to me (and will continue to do it, even if you get a publishing deal), and you get a nice fat percentage of every sale. But if you really want to be picked up, selling lots of ebooks is a good way to attract their attention.

    By the way, you're missing a trick in not mentioning the title of your book or linking to it in your sig. This forum is stuffed with writers who will happily look at the Amazon sample and tell you exactly why an agent may not be interested.
     
  9. A. E. Lowan

    A. E. Lowan Forum Mom Leadership

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    I'll also ask - how long have you been trying? My mother taught me that you're not a real writer unless you can wallpaper with rejection letters. So, if agents are turning you down, keep trying. There are LOTS of agents out there.

    Also, I have to agree on how vital that query is. Research queries, read agent blogs on what they look for - and note that many of them say different things. Nailing that query is the first step in getting your foot in the door. Maybe let some of us take a look at it? We have many experienced writers on this site who may be able to steer you in the right direction.

    Plus, make absolutely sure you're addressing your queries to the right people. Not only do you want to make sure that agent represents your specific genre (for example, who do they represent?), but there is also the fact that the publishing industry is fairly dynamic, with people moving from house to house with alarming frequency at times. Sometimes, by the time the agency listings for the year get into print, that agent may have moved to another house. So, check the agency's website, or if even that seems unsure make sure to call them and ask the receptionist to confirm that you are sending your query to the right agent. And, for heaven's sake, triple check how the agent's name is spelled. Professionalism will always earn you brownie points.

    Oh! And the most important thing you should be doing while sending out queries... Write your next book! If this is your first book, you can only benefit from the experience of writing, and your next book, and the book after that, will be stronger and stronger. So keep writing!
     
    Last edited: May 13, 2013
  10. hnorwood

    hnorwood Dreamer

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    Thanks Pauline! You have been very helpful and it is greatly appreciated.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: May 13, 2013
  11. hnorwood

    hnorwood Dreamer

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    Thank you everyone for such great advice! It's all been very helpful and appreciated. A lot of great information as well. I will say that I was told by both publishers and agents that having your novel self published does not effect whether or not they will accept it. :)

    The name is "War of the Pretenders" it has sample pages on amazon.com if anyone wants to take a peak and add further advice. Greatly appreciated.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: May 13, 2013
  12. brokethepoint

    brokethepoint Troubadour

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    Did you get any feedback in your rejections? Is it possible to request information on why they rejected?

    That would be where I would start.

    Secondly is the length correct for the books classification. The other thing I can think of is are you hitting your correct market and agent for your book.

    I will tell you the opposite of what the others will tell you. Just because you were rejected doesn't mean that it is not ready or not worthy of being published. It doesn't mean that it is, but I have seen enough books that were cringe worthy and published to accept the "it is not ready to be published."

    What I would do is find some people to proof it and see what they find. I would also see if I could find some people that didn't like and it and find out why. I would start writing another book.
     
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  13. psychotick

    psychotick Auror

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    Hi Steerpike, Anna,

    It's good to hear that agents are willing to look at self pubbed books, but I would think that it's still the exception. For most people just getting an agent is a step beyond what they will achieve, and doing it with a book already pubbed has to be that much harder.

    Having said this as you say the landscape is changing, and over on Kindle Boards I read a thread a while back in which someone said agents are now actively trawling the lists of self pubbed books looking for their next author. Don't know how true that is.

    However my advice remains the same. For a newbie author with one book out, ignore the agent submissions with the already pubbed book. It's never going to be your best shot. Submit with your next book and use the sales information / reviews from the first self pubbed book to back your submission. After all if nothing else it hopefully proves that you can write a novel so gives them something to work with.

    Cheers, Greg.
     
  14. SeverinR

    SeverinR Vala

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    I think 80% of most submissions never get out of the mail room. (I think even higher, I think maybe even 90)
    Rejects most often are not following the requirements set forth for submission, even the smallest thing will get it tossed. The people in the mailroom are paid to make the stack disappear. Pass a stack of manuscripts to large and the next group will get upset, because they have to handle that stack. Make people upset and you might lose your job.
    If you can get your script out of the mailroom, you have passed many submitters already. So if you get a letter that talks about your book, you know someone read at least some of it. If you get a chain letter, you never know.

    You can have a triple best seller, but if you make even one mistake, it will be tossed.
     
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  15. Steerpike

    Steerpike Felis amatus Moderator

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    I've posted this elsewhere, before.

    Why was my story rejected? Why Did My Story Get Rejected?

    An early point in the article: "People who have no "writing ability" are making a good living at writing, and people who write very well indeed have nothing but a collection of rejection slips and some compliments on their writing style."

    Note that while the article deals with short stories, many of the same principles apply to novel submissions to various publishers. MZB was very successful as both a writer and editor.

     
    Last edited: May 13, 2013
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  16. wordwalker

    wordwalker Auror

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    Speaking of links, the best kind are one-click addresses that people can try out at once. And when you're not on the forum or somewhere else where you can tag something as a URL (or even if you are), the most useful link may still be the URL itself with its "www." prefix: even if a reader copies and pastes that, most software will treat www-dot-anything-dot-com as a clickable link.
     
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  17. psychotick

    psychotick Auror

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    Hi,

    Thanks Steerpike, Marion's got an interesting take and it does seem to be aimed at magazines and editors rather than agents, but still very relevant. I think the take home message is make sure that what you submit is done so exactly in accordance with what an editor / agent wants. After all you can't do much about many of those other things like an agent's beef with a plot etc, and you should already have done everything you can to make your story enjoyable / readable, so making sure you don't screw up at the end is pretty much what you have left.

    By the way, why is Dean R Koontz grim? I find his work really enjoyable, and he never seems to do anything nasty like kill off his MC - something that woul irk me no end.

    Cheers, Greg.
     
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  18. hnorwood

    hnorwood Dreamer

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    Thanks to everyone! A lot of great information and its greatly appreciated.
     
  19. hnorwood

    hnorwood Dreamer

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    Yes, I did get feedback. "Not what we are looking for at this particular time." Also I have followed all the guidelines of the 30 agents and publishers I have sent to. Even the correct word count :/ I have been submitting for a year. However, I just read that a New York best Seller got to 86 rejections and was going to quite at 126! So, maybe I am being premature? I also had it editing done before I self published it. Thank you for your advice. I will start another book :)
     
  20. hnorwood

    hnorwood Dreamer

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    Thanks I will read it. :)
     
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