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Rejected countless times now - give up?

(88 Posts)
Shaffron Tue 22-Sep-15 07:14:27

My children's novel has been rejected by a significant number of agents now. I've lost count.

Yet I was invited by my local librarian to read it to her after school reading group and they seem to love it.

I'm torn between giving up and focusing on my next novel I'm currently writing or keep going. Surely if it was any good then it wouldn't have been rejected this many times?

AnyoneButAndre Tue 22-Sep-15 07:19:14

What's your feedback, if any, been? Have you had any knowledgeable friends' feedback?

PotatoGun Tue 22-Sep-15 08:10:52

If you had personalised rejections, what did they say? Regardless, though, I think the best situation to be in when submitting to agents is to have mentally 'let go' of the book you are pitching, and to have another one under way. That is, if you are absolutely certain that the one you are looking for representation for is the best you can make it?

FishWithABicycle Tue 22-Sep-15 08:38:12

You could self-publish

You could look for smaller-scale publishers that don't insist on agents (the author I know who has published about 8 books has no agent, smaller publishers are OK to deal with authors direct)

You could post a couple of pages from the middle here inviting we nest of vipers to be as critical and nasty about it as we can in order to assess whether the quality of the writing is up to scratch.

You could think about the whole package you submit - are you just sending the manuscript itself? Do you include a half page sales pitch which explains the plot and why it will be appealing to children and to the grownups who buy for them, and what distinguishes this from the thousands of competitors, also laying out the future sequels if that's the plan. Half the time manuscripts don't even get read because what is sent doesn't give sufficient reason to the recipient to invest their time reading it.

SheGotAllDaMoves Tue 22-Sep-15 09:01:44

When you say significant number, how many?

Was there any feedback?

Have you checked that your cover letter/synopsis etc is in order?

MissBattleaxe Tue 22-Sep-15 11:13:31

Don't give up if you really believe in them. Do you look at other similar work that's been published and think yours is as good as that?

If so, maybe get a second opinion from a freelance editor and take everything they say on the chin. Then look at your submission. It has to have an immediate hook to get an agent interested. Shorter is better than too long. Mention other authors that you think you are in the same category: i.e

"For the child growing out of Horrid Henry" ( for example)

Have you got a copy of the Writers and Artists Yearbook? That contains excellent advice.

You don't need me to tell you how many times JK Rowling and Frederick Forsyth were rejected! Good luck.

TheCountessofFitzdotterel Tue 22-Sep-15 12:39:05

Has it been critiqued by other writers? What did they say?

ImperialBlether Tue 22-Sep-15 13:48:17

Shaffron, what kind of book is it? Do you illustrate it? I think one sample audience isn't enough, really. Have you asked mums of children the same age to read it with their children?

LonnyVonnyWilsonFrickett Tue 22-Sep-15 13:52:18

Does it fit the market? That's the question you need to ask. If they have a glut of books in the, say 7-10 age at the moment, and that's your market, then yours will be rejected, no matter how good it is.

Is it the right length? Does it rhyme? (very hard to get rhyming books published atm). Does it need illustration? Is the subject currently over-done?

It could be nothing to do with the writing at all.

I would leave it six months, continue with your next attempt, then regroup.

But never give up!

Shaffron Tue 22-Sep-15 14:15:27

It's a fantasy adventure for 9-12 year olds. It's been professionally edited. I even pitched it to an agent in person at one of these book events and she never got back to me (after saying she would). Given I have three young kids and I'd travelled with them and aging grandparents in order to do this, she could have at least dropped a few lines of advice.

I'm really quite disillusioned with the whole process because no, I've not even had any feedback. Just standard rejections. Maybe my writing is not good enough but it's taken a lot of effort to write a book around young children.

Agents say they are too busy etc but it would have taken ten minutes out of her time.

The professional editor said there was a lot to commend but it needed a bit of work e.g. some telling not showing, plotting and shortening. I worked at most of her advice. I've put so much into it and it's so disheartening to think it's not even worth more than standard rejection.

Fed up.

MissBattleaxe Tue 22-Sep-15 14:16:00

LonnyVonny has a point. Sometimes it could just be the wrong agent at the wrong time.

I often think of it like acting auditions. Sometimes you get rejected because it wasn't good enough and sometimes you get rejected because the person before you got the job.

TheCountessofFitzdotterel Tue 22-Sep-15 14:37:24

How many people have read it? Do you have a critique partner or group? What do they say?

LonnyVonnyWilsonFrickett Tue 22-Sep-15 14:45:03

OK, I get you're fed up, and I know what an effort it takes to get something finished and in a decent enough state to get 'out there', but that's not the agents' fault. They're not obligated to be nice, or to give feedback. Sure, it would be lovely if they would. But they don't.

Do you know how many people ever finish their book? 1%. 1% of everyone who starts a book won't finish. So you're already ahead of 99% the pack.

That means you don't get to be disheartened. 99% of writers envy you. So keep going. Shop it around more, find some more readers, get some more feedback. Or put it in a drawer and focus on #2.


PotatoGun Tue 22-Sep-15 14:53:37

Shaffron, I know it's disheartening - we've all been there - but agents can get hundreds of submissions a day. It sounds as if you need a good writers' group or a critique partner, as Countess suggests, to get the novel as good as it can be, and also for you to be writing for real, responsive, critical- but-supportive readers. You say you've worked on 'most' of the professional editors suggestions - maybe revisit what he/she said and see what remains to do?

Also, are you researching and approaching the right agents, who represent the kind of book you've written, and who are open to debut novelists?

A lot of people's first novels don't get published, or it's their fifth or their eighth that gets picked up (and a heavily revised version of the first appears years later, if at all).

SheGotAllDaMoves Tue 22-Sep-15 15:47:19

OP, it's a tough business true enough.

But how many did you send it to? Because, if for example, it's less than ten, you really haven't broken a sweat yet.

MissBattleaxe Tue 22-Sep-15 15:58:04

Oh yes, SheGot is quite right. Less than ten rejections is nothing. Get more advice and more readers to look at your stuff and be brutal with it. You may have to lose entire chapters or characters to make it work, but don't be afraid to do so if an expert tells you to. Don't get too attached to your "favourite" bits.

Don't take it personally if an agent doesn't get back to you. IT's nothing to do with how much effort you put in or how long it took you. It either works for them or it doesn't.

PotatoGun Tue 22-Sep-15 16:08:16

Yup. I wrote large chunks of the novel I'm currently revising with a noisy diva-ish toddler pelting me with Lego and trying to climb up on my lap shouting 'No more WRITING, Mummy!' Agents aren't going to give me extra credit for it, compared to a childfree debut novelist with a private income and a writing lodge in the garden! Either they think they can sell what I've written or they don't.

ImperialBlether Tue 22-Sep-15 17:16:49

It's so tempting to think "It's only ten minutes of their time" but it really isn't, or not if they're doing it properly. They'd have to set aside the time to read it and make notes (so that's more slowly than someone else might read it) and then they have to put those notes into a format that can be understood by someone else, then they have to phrase it in a positive light while stressing any problem areas in such a way that it's useful but doesn't make someone feel awful and then they'd have to make suggestions. It can take ages!

Shaffron Tue 22-Sep-15 22:38:43

I suppose it's because she took my details and my work and said she'd look at it/get back to me. That was almost a year ago. Maybe she glanced over it and decided it wasn't for her after all.

I don't expect special treatment and I know it's business after all. I'm just feeling blue about my writing and needed to vent somewhere. The thought that I'll never be published and it was all in vain is quite depressing!

Yes the process has been fun, enlightening too etc but I've been a sahm for years and I would dearly love to achieve something for myself.

Shaffron Tue 22-Sep-15 22:40:57

Oh and it's more than ten! I've lost count. Maybe twenty?

IrenetheQuaint Tue 22-Sep-15 22:46:23

Speaking as a former editor, I found the hardest manuscripts to give feedback on were those that were quite good but just didn't have the wow factor that would make them sell. It may be that's where you're at.

I'd try to get more really targeted feedback from writers' groups and think about starting a new book from scratch rather than endlessly fiddling with the old one.

ImperialBlether Tue 22-Sep-15 22:48:34

If you look up the big agencies online, they'll usually say how many manuscripts they receive in a week. It can be hundreds. And 99% of their job is dealing with their existing clients. That's why you usually just get a standard rejection; they just don't have the time to send more than that. In fact, if I had an agent, I'd be pretty pissed off if she hadn't time to deal with my book because she had loads of rejection letters to send.

It's a really, really tough business. Once you've sent something out, you literally have to forget it and move on. You should really have emailed her that document; generally they just won't accept paper copies if you meet them face to face.

There are organisations like The Literary Agency who will (for a fee) look at your book and give you detailed advice. Yes, it's expensive, but this way you can guarantee they will read it in detail and give you helpful advice. They will also refer you on to an agent if they think you're at that point.

ImperialBlether Tue 22-Sep-15 22:49:45

Might sound an obvious question, but are you sending it to agents who specifically deal with children's fiction? Apparently a lot of rejections are just due to the agent not dealing with that specific kind of book.

SheGotAllDaMoves Wed 23-Sep-15 07:10:54

OK so 20 subs is a fair few, OP.

I think what I'd do if it were me would be too look very carefully at my sub package. Feel free to ask here.

Review the letter and synopsis to make sure that's not an issue.
Check the first ten pages of the sample. Is it really doing the business?
Then roll the dice perhaps five more times.

Then if still nothing, I'd put this project aside and start something new.

One thing I always advise any writer at this stage is to start a new project as soon as you start the sub process of the the finished book. Writing is all about looking forward. The process is just too slow to get over involved with any part of it that is beyond our control.

Shaffron Wed 23-Sep-15 07:19:41

It's with one more agent just now. If they reject I'm going to focus on my new book for a while. I will continue reading it to the kids at the library though as they are ennjoying it.

Happy to post first chapter here, but how? I'm a bit hopeless at technology!

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