Be Determined and Proud – Just Keep Querying!

Friday, May 19, 2023
Kelly Sgroi

They say you should aim to be rejected 100 times per year. This refers to submitting to literary journals, but there is something to be said about this theory. 

If you are submitting, your chance of acceptance goes up. So if the more you submit, the more chance you have of being published, why are you worried about all your rejections rather than focusing on sending out your next query? 

I believe everyone has to do what works for them, and I can only share my own experiences and suggest what worked for me. The rest is up to you. But if you’re feeling like all those no’s are a sign you should stop querying, think again. Some pretty famous authors got rejected more than you would think, but that didn’t stop them. 

So you’ve written a novel-length manuscript, it’s taken years to draft, redraft, pull apart, rewrite in a different tense and have critique partners look it over. You’ve fixed all the boring parts, tightened your premise, decided on a title and found a beta reader who believes in this manuscript. Now you’re happy with the structure, you’ve edited it down to the line level and you’re ready to query. 

You are also query package ready (and that took lots more time and effort), phew! 

“I would advise anyone who aspires to a writing career that before developing his talent he would be wise to develop a thick hide.” – Harper Lee 

Those are some wise words. 

Next, you need to research who is open to subs in your genre, decide who you think is a good fit and—send your first query out in a batch. I think sending queries out in a batch of 5 is a good idea. It’s enough to give you an indication of where you’re at but not too much that you could blow your chances with everyone in one hit. 

The idea behind this is that each rejection provides you with clues. Yes, even form rejections tell you something about where you’re at. 

Each time you get a rejection, reread your manuscript and make some changes based on what you have learned. 
  • Writing not strong enough – hire an editor 
  • Didn’t connect with pages – look at your main character 
  • Intriguing premise and assured writing – maybe it’s just not the right time 

At the end of the day, it doesn’t matter how many rejections or rounds of edits – what matters is that you get your yes. 

Never give up and your dreams just might come true! 

Check out these 5 famous author rejection numbers, that make me feel better about my 28 rejections: 
144 Jack Canfield and Mark Victor Hansen - Chicken Soup For The Soul 
100 Lisa Genova - Still Alice 
60 Kathryn Stockett - The Help 
41 T.J. Newsman - Falling 
30 Stephen King – Carrie 

“I love my rejections slips. They show me I try.” – Sylvia Plath 

I have to agree, what I’m most proud of is my determination. 

Just keep trying! 

Kelly Sgroi is a women’s fiction writer based in Melbourne, Australia. Now represented by Beyond Words Literary Agency, Kelly is thrilled to be out of the query trenches and looking forward to what comes next in her writing journey. She’s also a content writer and an enthusiastic member of the writing community who loves conducting author interviews and posting book reviews. Her debut manuscript is about motherhood, and she is excited to share it with everyone soon. For publications and more, check out


Angela Mackintosh said...

Super inspiring post, Kelly! I'm linking to your post in my newsletter intro. :) I always preach batching queries and usually recommend 10 at a time. I love your list of "clues"! Not connecting is a common one, and you're so right about it being the protagonist or the narrator (in the case of memoir). Another one is not connecting with the voice, and that could be that the voice isn't unique enough or doesn't fit the tone of the story, so it's time to revise. And if an agent simply says "it's not right for me," it probably means she doesn't think she can champion it and sell it, so get back out there and find an agent who can. Sylvia Plath is amazing. :)

Unknown said...

Great post, Kelly. I totally agree with sending batches of five. Read my post about my ride on the rejection merry-go-round here:

Kelly Sgroi said...

Angela: Thank you! I'm honoured to have my blog linked to your newsletter intro! Yes, batching is the way to go with any subs - the wait times are too long to send anything out one at a time. Batching is also a great way to stop fixating on your subs, forget them and keep writing. Great points on those clues! Also, adding interiority to character can help fix voice. It all just takes time. I truly believe every wrier can get there if they never give up!

Thank you for reading, commenting and linking your fantastic post on rejection! This is exactly what I'm talking about! Your yes sounds like it's just around the corner - hold on tight!

Naomi Shippen said...

Those statistics are very sobering but it also makes me feel better knowing how much these great authors were rejected. Writing definitely is not for the faint hearted. Well done, Kelly, on writing a brilliant manuscript and securing agent representation.

Kelly Sgroi said...

Naomi: Totally agree. Writers are strong! Thank you for always being in my corner!

Renee Roberson said...

Very inspiring post, Kelly! I think the most rejections I've had for one novel are about 10 so clearly I'm behind, LOL! I love the way you deciphered what the rejections might mean, too. So true. I think it's also important to keep writing as you query, so that when you connect with an agent willing to work with you, you have multiple books or projects to offer them!

Kelly Sgroi said...

Thanks Renee! I hope this does inspire you to keep querying agents! I love your writing and truly believe in you! Best of luck

Ann Kathryn Kelly said...

Kelly, why am I so good at following this strategy when submitting my CNF essays and poems ... yet, so terrible at it with my memoir manuscript? LOL! (Actually, I should be crying, not laughing.) I've got my system down pat for my essays and poems. I just keep circulating them until they get picked up. Yet I have an abysmal track record with querying my manuscript. I've wasted 18 months now, and have only sent out 50 queries! NOT good! I just have a weird block, I guess. [shrugs]

Kelly Sgroi said...

Ann: You are so good at submitting your CNF essays and getting them published! I hope you now have the motivation to apply that same persistence to your memoir querying, and I wish you every success!

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