Novel Attack Plan

I’m still working on the rather badly-titled The Widening Gyre, Book 1 of The Remembrance War.  Looking at my stats, I’ve sent it out to seventeen agents. Of those, six did not respond at all, which is the annoying way to say “no, thanks.”  Eight responded with form rejections, for a total of 14 outright rejections.  Three agents asked for more pages and a closer look.  All three passed.

What this tells me–and there is some element of Rejectomancy in this, but a good kind, I think–is that the query letter works. I mean, three doesn’t seem like a large number, but it actually is; the vast majority of queries get rejected, so a 17.6% success rate is pretty good.

But the submission isn’t getting picked up. Now, here’s where the bad parts of Rejectomancy show up.  It could just be that I haven’t hit that Magic Agent yet–the one who will read my book and say “Holy shit, I can sell the crap out of this.”

But it could also be that the first 50 pages are a bit weak.  And I think that’s true.  I’m going through them now, tightening them up–making some wording changes, some deletions, some additions–and then I’ll send it to a new wave of agents.

If I haven’t gotten any bites by the end of my next cycle of twenty agents, I’ll send it to Tor directly via snail-mail. They accept un-agented submissions, but it’s not the preferred way, and it can take quite a while.

It’s a process, and a numbers game.  A fellow VP alum took two years and nearly two hundred rejections before she signed for a three-book deal.  Jim Butcher got 300 rejections before he sold his first Dresden novel.  There are worse stories.

Onward and upward.

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About Michael Johnston

Father of a fifth grader, high school English teacher, writer. Forty-six years old and feeling almost every bit of it on some days, and not a bit of it on others. Based in Sacramento, California, USA
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