Thursday, July 1, 2010

Rejection Limits & Moving On

Exactly at what point do you decide that no one wants to publish your book?

Do you have a set number of agent rejections in mind? Do you say, “I’ll stop querying when I reach the ten (or twenty or thirty) rejection level? Or do you continue to research agents and continue to send out your masterpiece until you move into the 50-rejection range? Do you take hope and guidance from the now-famous writers who suffered the arrows of rejection time and time again?

If you don’t find an agent willing to represent your book, do then send your book directly to editors at the publishing houses? Or do you shelve the book thinking that the next book you write will be THE ONE and someday when you’re a best-selling author, you’ll pull this first (or second or fifth) book off the shelf and resubmit it knowing that your publisher will now publish it because it’s yours?

Or if you don’t find an agent, do you consider publishing the book yourself? Do you tell yourself that since you have to do most of the marketing of your books yourself regardless of who publishes them, you might as well increase your income by self publishing your book? If you have the $3000 it will take to do it yourself, will you? Can you move beyond the stigma that long-ago attached itself to the self-published by telling yourself that times have changed and self-publication is no longer the refuge of the unpublishable?

Or if you don’t find an agent, will you consider publishing the book as an ebook for Amazon’s Kindle? To be sure, there’s still the marketing to be done. Have you done the math to figure out that if you price your book at $1.99 and you sell 500 copies, you’ll be $350 richer? Is it worth it? Do you tell yourself that you’ll be one of those Kindle authors who will be picked up and given a three-book deal by the likes of Simon & Schuster?

Or will you simply say, “I’ll query 20 (or 30 or 50) agents and one (or 5 or 10) publisher, then if no one wants my manuscript, I’ll learn from my mistakes, put the manuscript on the shelf, and move on to my next manuscript.” Can you do that? Or are you convinced that this manuscript that has suffered so many rejections will appeal to one of the hundreds of other agents you have on your spreadsheet and continue to query even though you long ago passed your limit of 20 agent rejections?

It’s an interesting dilemma and not one faced by many people in this world, but one that must be faced by most authors. When do YOU set aside a manuscript and move on?


  1. Interesting question. I have three ms finished. I shopped one starting last year - two editors, three agents, NO luck.

    Now, I'm shopping the same ms in a more casual manner - responding to call outs in blogs, etc and I have my first request for a partial.

    The other two I'm just beginning to shop - pitching at nationals for one.

    I think I'd have to go with the old sales formula - 25 nos to one yes. Then 25 partials to one full. Then 25 fulls to one publication. Then give up.

    I wouldn't self publish, but I'd consider Kindle. I'm on the fence with e-books right now.

  2. There's an interesting blog post on ePublishing at about how to be successful publishing on Kindle. Like Lynn, I'm torn about doing anything other than traditional publishing. - Kay