I am wondering whether to retire my novel Reply All from the Great Game.
Here’s the sad submission story. Last spring I thought I’d finished it after several years of work and loads of revisions based on the advice of my crit partners. I sent it to one very good agent on the recommendation of one of his clients. He took a couple of months to read it. Both before and after his thoughtful and helpful rejection I submitted it to a total of 22 agents. Of those I got 17 rejections or failure to responds, two requests for partials–which turned into rejections–and two requests for fulls (one still out).
Then I had a revelation about the novel and did a complete revision, changing the gender of the protagonists and trying to beef up the present-day through-line, on the first agent’s recommendation.
Since that revision, I’ve sent it out to another 23 agents. I’ve gotten two requests for partials out of that bunch-one of those turned into a form rejection. The other is still outstanding although I’ve status queried twice and haven’t heard anything so I’m assuming it’s a pass. 15 booted it with form rejections. So I have six queries still floating out there.
Is this enough rejection to retire my baby? Should I just wait for the decision of the agent who has the full and then stack Reply All in cybernetic bottom drawer with all the rest of my unwanted children?
Miss Snark said to send a MS to 100 agents before giving up. Stephen Fraser advises (and I can’t find the dad-gummed link to his blog where I read this in just the past week or so) taking a MS back for more work if the form rejection percentage tops 90 percent for two rounds of 10 queries each. Mine’s about what–math’s not my strong suit–77 percent impersonal rejections from round I. And 88 percent on what I thought was a new and improved version.
I love this novel. A friend just called the other night and said she wept through the whole last 75 pages. The crit partner/friend who recommended the agent who read and rejected it so loves one of the two main characters. It just may be too complex in structure, a cross-generational story that goes back and forth in time, but look at that bloody Monsters of Templeton.
What’s a poor writer to do? Where’s the Kool Aid?

3 thoughts on “Frustration

  1. If it were me? I’d start submitting something else. Pulling something out of the rotation for a while isn’t the same as giving up on it. Things come in and out of fashion. It may be that for one reason or another the market for this particular book isn’t good right now. Send in another pitcher and let this one rest his arm before you trot him back out.I’ve got things in the drawer, as you know. Some of them suck, some I don’t think do, but either way, if they aren’t selling, that’s beyond my control. Sending out something new isn’t. I tend to give it a year and then put it away. I’m always all for not pinning your hopes on one thing. Rotate your hopes around a little. 🙂


  2. I daresay you’re right. I should probably pull back anyway during this whole relocation nightmare anyway and avoid rejections flying around to bad addresses.But life kind of sucks when this time comes, doesn’t it?All the more reason to push ahead with Animist, eh?


  3. <>But life kind of sucks when this time comes, doesn’t it?<>I’m actually a little startled and disturbed by how easily I give my darlings up for dead. All I can care about is the thing I’m working on now. It’s coming up on a year for Amber and then it gets drawered, and I don’t even feel a pang. And I was really really into that book. But I start thinking the new one is better anyway, so whatever, and I don’t look back at all. It was the same when I gave up Fenris for Amber. I don’t like what this love-em-and-leave-em, leave-every-man-behind mentality may say about me.


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