I’ve been avoiding writing about my querying process in hopes that I’d have something positive to tell you. But, I can’t keep avoiding it.
So, here’s the short of it.
I’ve been rejected by every agent I’ve contacted.
The longer story is I started querying agents to represent my suspense novel, Doc and the Seven, on September 10, 2018 and stopped querying on November 9, 2018. Over the last five months, I’ve received 37 rejections: 16 emailed rejections from 15 agents (one agent rejected me twice*), and no response from 21 agents. Since it’s been more than 12 weeks since I queried the last agent, it’s safe to say those 21 agents have rejected me as well.
Percentage wise, I heard back from 43% of the agents and heard nothing from 67%.
Only two rejections were personalized. 35 were form letters (emails).
Those are pretty crappy stats.
Querying is not for the weak.
I spent two and a half years writing and revising my suspense novel. Ten beta readers gave me feedback. I hired a professional editor to line edit and copyedit it. I hired three people in the publishing business to critique my query letters. In the end, I felt good about all the things I did to get my novel ready to submit.
Still, I was rejected…over and over again.
Querying is not for the weak.
When I started querying last fall, I stated that I would either get 100 rejections or find an agent, whichever came first. Now, it’s five months later, 37 rejections later, and I have no desire to keep querying.
Does this mean I’ve given up on having an agent?
No, I haven’t. But, I don’t feel I’m going to find an agent through the traditional route of cold querying.
So, what am I going to do?
First, I’m going to keep writing.
Those of you who subscribe to my newsletter or follow me on Twitter know that I’ve completed a pilot script for an animated kids TV show. The script is currently in Los Angeles and a friend of a friend is getting ready to pitch it to a major streaming service. Fingers crossed that it will lead to good things. Next, I’m adapting my first novel, The Contenders, into a feature-length screenplay.
Second, I’m going to keep reading.
This year, I’m focusing on novels published by indie publishers. I want to find small presses that are publishing books in the same vein as my novel, Doc and the Seven. I’m going to take my time reading novels, researching publishers, and staying open to the possibility of being published by an indie publisher.
Third, I’m going to keep getting out there.
I write because I have stories to tell and because I want people to read them. That’s what stories are for–for sharing with other people. I will keep getting out in the world through writing my own blog posts, writing posts for other blogs and outlets, sending out my newsletter, being active (but not too active!) on social media and marketing my novel and course on Twitter, LinkedIn, and Instagram. I’ll also keep meeting other authors, creatives, and members of the publishing world.
Querying is not for the weak. Writing and marketing are not for the weak either.
There are times like this when I feel weak, but deep down, I know that I’m not. I know this feeling is only temporary. It just sucks when you’re going through it.
Still, I will keep going. And, I will keep being honest with you about how it’s going.
Hopefully next time, I’ll have happier news to share.
* I queried J.M. during my first week of querying. He emailed a rejection within 48 hours. Then, I entered a Twitter pitching event called #DVPit and J.M. liked my pitch. I was thrilled. I sent a revised query letter and 50 sample pages. He took longer this time to decide but alas, he rejected me again. So, my friends, that’s how I ended up getting rejected twice by one agent.
Peg Cheng is the author of The Contenders, a middle-grade novel that asks, can enemies become friends? She is currently querying a novel that is a re-imagining of the Snow White fairy tale set in 1980s Seattle. Peg is also the creator of Fear & Writing, a workshop for procrastinating writers from all walks of life.
Photo: Kick boxers at eVOLV by Marcus Donner.