Jump to content

Why manuscripts are rejected by agents.


Recommended Posts

I think many of you know of iWriterly, and she (they) has (have?) a presence on YouTube.  I came across this video kinda by accident.  It's a panel of several literary agents and the reasons why they reject your manuscripts.  If you're like me, and have to go the "secular" route, this is what's awaiting you.

 

Ironically, there are three agents on this panel that I have queried, or have a query pending.

 

Also ironically, the person hosting this used to be a literary agent, if I recall correctly.  When she released her debut book, she didn't go the traditional route.  She self-published.

 

 

  • Thanks 1
Link to post
Share on other sites
  • Replies 55
  • Created
  • Last Reply

Top Posters In This Topic

Top Posters In This Topic

Popular Posts

The handle on my pitchfork broke. I do have a potato fork, but it's buried in the haystack. I have a few flashlights, but they're not as intimidating as torches. I guess I'd have to show up with cooki

Sorry, Wes, your reply was rather comprehensive and it took me a while (in the midst of weekend chores) to sit and read through everything.    My overall concern with establishing and growin

I know you are probably  right but I just want to crawl into my bunker at the thought.   The other issue for me is that it would mean I have to come clean with my church and diocese unless I

Interesting. I self-publish, so I obviously don't deal with agents and the query process, but my main takeaway is what I've already adopted for my own publishing standard: Always present the best possible version of your story. This means a lot of work after the first draft. Beta readers, rewrites, editing,.. rinse and repeat. 

 

The other thing I noticed is how the makeup of agents interviewed featured almost exclusively young women. Does this accurately represent the industry these days, or did IWriterly stack the deck for their segment?  It would have been even more interesting to hear from a more age/gender diverse group.

 

 

Link to post
Share on other sites
3 minutes ago, Accord64 said:

The other thing I noticed is how the makeup of agents interviewed featured almost exclusively young women. Does this accurately represent the industry these days, or did IWriterly stack the deck for their segment?

 

The comments on you YouTube video basically raise the same question.  And as far as I can tell, most of the literary agencies I've queried, the agents were mostly women.

Link to post
Share on other sites

Thanks Jeff.  Just confirms what we already know really.  No surprises. No wonder it is so difficult to get off the slush pile.

 

I would love it if someone would just say why they didn't want to read my MS or than 'it's not quite right for us' or 'I didn't feel passionate/love it enough' which are vague and subjective as oppose about the actual writing itself -  If it needs editing or the pace isn't fast enough or the voice doesn't come across I can do something about it. I can't make someone love it.

 

Point about women - there does seem to be more women than male agents but the senior positions are often the reverse with more  men heading up LAs.

 

Also mainly white graduates.

14 hours ago, suspensewriter said:

Yes, I have 11,000 followers on LinkedIn for my publishing business

 

Wow! 

Link to post
Share on other sites
4 hours ago, Shamrock said:

Point about women - there does seem to be more women than male agents but the senior positions are often the reverse with more  men heading up LAs.

 

Actually, no.  Many of these agencies (at least in the US) are top to bottom women.  Especially the ones with a person's name in them.  However, the publishers I'm querying seem to have a fair mix.

 

The larger agencies, however, may be different.  Trident was one.  Jabberwocky seemed to have a fair mix.  But many of the larger ones, however, I didn't bother to query.  The agents that handled Fantasy?  I could see the rejection in their eyes, just by looking at their photo.  🙂

 

I'm on the Discord channels for a bunch of independent comic makers.  I posted this video on one of them, just for chuckles.  The comments I received were pretty similar to the ones here as well as matching those on YouTube. One person, who was heavy into reading Fantasy, called out one of the agents - the one that said that they rejected manuscripts that started with character's sparring.  The person said that they've yet to read a Fantasy book that started with people sparring.  Another person was an author who had gone through this same process, got discouraged, and self-published.

 

And they almost universally criticized the agents rejecting manuscripts that they didn't just "fall in love" with. One of them said that explained a lot about the books coming out today. 

Link to post
Share on other sites

The fact of the matter is, if you don't like being rejected, you can always self-publish, and I think that is a lot better than wasting time criticizing the agents and agencies.  Don't get caught in the quagmire of criticizing, because that will distract you from your true calling- writing.

 

I, for one, would like to see you self-publish.  If you believe in your works enough, and are willing to work at the marketing of them, then you could be a great success.

 

How many books have you written?

Link to post
Share on other sites

I kind  of agree with SW - why waste time criticism agents?  Yes, it is frustrating and demoralising but if you set yourelf up to submit to them, then roll with it. The system is warped and nothing will change that. They are what they are. - subjective and selective.

 

The reason I have given myself a time limit for submitting i.e a 2021 - 12 months - is to help me cope with the inevitable slog and rejections I know I am going to get. But I live in the hope that someone will see what I see in it - and a market for the book. 

 

Once I have exhausted this avenue then I will consider self-publishing but I am not confident about marketing my work - I think that as SW noted  - that is the key thing. 

Link to post
Share on other sites
10 minutes ago, suspensewriter said:

The fact of the matter is, if you don't like being rejected, you can always self-publish, and I think that is a lot better than wasting time criticizing the agents and agencies.  Don't get caught in the quagmire of criticizing, because that will distract you from your true calling- writing.

 

I, for one, would like to see you self-publish.  If you believe in your works enough, and are willing to work at the marketing of them, then you could be a great success.

 

How many books have you written?

 

By this time next year, I'll have a backlog of 5 books written, and two published (one will be free).

 

And it's not a matter of not liking rejection.  I already knew that querying literary agents would be a bust before I even started.  And when I looked at their wish lists and requirements, it only solidified my belief.  And here we are - 50 agents, maybe two bites, and nothing landed.  It's the reason why I started building my author platform, and doing a whole lot of research and legwork in parallel, when this avenue was inevitably exhausted.  Because I could see this was a dead end.

 

As far as being critical: someone needs to say it.  I've seen more than a few times where entire segments of readers are just written off because "they've moved on."  Well, they've "moved on," because the industry is not giving them what they want.  And this is part of the reason why.

Link to post
Share on other sites
16 minutes ago, Shamrock said:

I kind  of agree with SW - why waste time criticism agents?

 

Because someone besides you and I are going to waste time running down the same dead-end road.  Time better spent going direct to indie publishers, or building their own self-publish platform.

 

Whining sometimes has its uses.  😄

 

Link to post
Share on other sites

I am subbing to both agents and indi publishers - Yes, I have got more encouraging noises from them but they do take even longer than agents to reply. 

And, yes, I am researching about SP and marketing. Website up. Twitter account live just need to get my head around Linkdin. 🙃

Link to post
Share on other sites
5 minutes ago, Shamrock said:

I am subbing to both agents and indi publishers - Yes, I have got more encouraging noises from them but they do take even longer than agents to reply. 

And, yes, I am researching about SP and marketing. Website up. Twitter account live just need to get my head around Linkdin. 🙃

 

Just to clarify: are you saying that going direct to a publisher has generated more interest in your manuscript that going the agent route?

 

One thing I took to heart about marketing is finding your audience.  Getting in with a group that would be receptive to your books, and talking about the subject.

 

I'm also finding getting involved in related Discord channels is helpful too.  But that is a harder route, because you have to find people that have them up. Many of the comic creators I follow have a channel, so I join a few and talk about my work.  That way you can get a feel for how interested an audience is for the type of stories you're developing.

Link to post
Share on other sites
Posted (edited)

Jeff-- four questions, do you have a website?  If so, how many visitors do you have per day?  Do you have a YouTube channel where you discuss your writing?  If so, how many visitors do you have per day?  The same applies to Facebook and Twitter, by the way.

Edited by suspensewriter
Link to post
Share on other sites

Looks to me like the same "rules" that apply to agents also apply to publishers. Writers Digest and Reedsy offer lists of publishers who do not require agents. The agents' get-back-to-you time is a lot shorter, which, I suppose, allows me to garner rejections a lot faster. 

 

I think Shamrock's time frame is a good way to go. Starting ... now, 5/14/21 at 1:17 PM MDT.

  • Like 2
Link to post
Share on other sites
6 hours ago, suspensewriter said:

do you have a website?

 

Yes.

 

6 hours ago, suspensewriter said:

If so, how many visitors do you have per day?

 

6 per month.

 

6 hours ago, suspensewriter said:

Do you have a YouTube channel where you discuss your writing?

 

Yes, but nothing in on there at present.  I have plans for how I am going to accomplish this.

 

6 hours ago, suspensewriter said:

The same applies to Facebook and Twitter, by the way.

 

Across all platforms, I have - roughly - 700 followers.

  • Like 1
Link to post
Share on other sites

One thing I noticed about the YT video is that none of the agents cite lack of a social platform audience as a reason for not taking on someone. That is interesting because elsewhere there is a lot of discussion about agents checking writers sites when they submit work.

 

  • Like 2
Link to post
Share on other sites
Posted (edited)

Yes, but that is a big factor, Shamrock.  If you don't cite it, you're cutting your own throat--er, your manuscripts that is!  I personally won't consider a new author unless they have a following of 5,000.

Edited by suspensewriter
  • Sad 1
Link to post
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Restore formatting

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

×
×
  • Create New...

Important Information

We have placed cookies on your device to help make this website better. You can adjust your cookie settings, otherwise we'll assume you're okay to continue.