Agent's Advice Mended

Monday, November 03, 2008
My writing friend, Donna (who was interviewed by The Muffin here) , has a new blog called, Donna's Book Pub. One of her first posts got me thinking, and I thought I would discuss it with all of you today. She posted this about a recent workshop she attended through the Saturday Writers group.

"Krista Goering is a lawyer and an agent, located in Kansas. Krista was the keynote speaker for the morning session. During her presentation, she said to send manuscripts to six editors; if a ms doesn't sell after six editors have seen it, it probably isn't going to work."

Now, I have to say that I can see the logic here. But if this were true and writers followed this rule, then I think we would have NO Harry Potter. I have heard that she sent it to seven or eight places before she got a yes. I actually heard another story from a children's author who said she actually submitted her manuscript over 20 times and received 20 rejections. Then, she started sending it back to the same companies as before, but she sent it to different editors, and she got a YES (it was a rhyming picture book, too).

So, I am going to mend what Krista Goering said. Now, I am not an agent, but I've met a lot of authors and writers and had a lot of experience with rejections myself.

I think if a manuscript has been rejected SIX times, then you should not give up on it. What you should do is REVISE it a bit. Join a critique group, or ask a friend you trust to read it over and give you some advice. Look at your cover letter. Read the current market in your genre. Then once you've worked on it a bit, send it back out. Don't give up if you believe in your work!

Happy Writing!
Margo Dill
Read These Books and Use Them blog


Angela Mackintosh said...

I agree with you. I've heard of writers sending a lot more than six times. It also depends on how savvy you are with the publishing industry, and editors and agents as well. You really need to do your homework when targeting the right market to send your ms to. For instance, freelancers send WOW! all kinds of work that we don't publish...poetry, fiction, and personal essays. While there are probably great stories, we don't even read them because it's not material we publish. They would simply get a form letter with a rejection. I'd hate to think those writers were counting their submission as a rejection based on their writing. It really happens a lot more than you think!

One of the writers in PG said she really wants to get into Cricket magazine, so she subscribed to them and has been reading their publication for over a year. By doing that, writers have a much better chance at actually hitting the right mark. Just because a story isn't right for some editors doesn't mean you should give up. Take a look at any advice the editors have mentioned, go back and revise, and tailor your piece to fit a specific market. Remember, Stephen King got years of rejection slips before he actually published something. And we all know how that story ends! He's one of the most prolific writers out there. :o)

Anonymous said...

Six editors! That is terrible. All the info out there points to an initial submission of 10-12 editors, waiting for the response and then if any consistent feedback, revision and then resubmit. Otherwise, send out another batch and repeat. Stay away from an agent who tells you this is all they are going to do. And the turnover in publishing is quick. I have friends who's books continues to go back and make the rounds with new/different editors at houses. This business is so subjective--I would think an agent would know that! Often it takes writers querying into the triple digits to find an agent.

Anonymous said...

In my opinion, the advice that “if six editors read your manuscript and reject it, you may think of reviewing it before resubmitting” is questionable. First of all, whether a person likes a certain book or not is highly subjective.
And, most importantly, we are assuming here that the editors have read the manuscript before sending the rejection note and this is not always the case.
Given the amount of manuscripts editors receive it is mathematically impossible that they read them all.
Here is a personal story that illustrates my case.
I met an editor from a big publishing House at a conference. By then, my YA novel Two Moon Princess had already being accepted for publication. As I talked with this person, she mentioned she handled the translation department. I am from Spain and a translator myself so I offered my services to her. She took my card and asked me to send my resume, which I did as soon as I got home. A week later, I received a standard rejection letter. They had read my manuscript, the letter said, and at this time it didn't fit their needs.
There was no manuscript, of course, as I was offering my services as a translator. Evidently they hadn’t read my letter.
So, my advice, be persistent and do not take the rejection letters as a reflection of the quality of your work. Most often that not, it isn’t.

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