Writing a new novel can be the most exciting experience for many authors but it needs to come with the knowledge that it won’t be easy. Rejection is almost guaranteed in this industry when you’re looking for your first agent, but you should never let that weigh you down. Taking the time to do some research and learning why manuscripts get the boot will give you a better chance of snagging an agent and publishing your hard work.
One thing you need to keep in mind is agents have hundreds upon hundreds of submissions to go through, so their time is limited. If your book rattles on, or your query letter doesn’t get right to the point (or isn’t 1 page), then your odds are already staked against you. Requirements can be strict, and it’s important to take them serious when your ready to submit, but only after your draft has gone through the complete revision and editing process, including sending your manuscript to trusted readers who will provide honest feedback.
Although there are several reasons why you might have gotten rejected by an agent (some of them out of your control) I’ve listed 5 of them below so that you can be more aware and better your chance of getting an agent.
1. Your Timing is Off
First of all, if you do everything right and accomplish all that needs to be done, you still have no guarantee that your manuscript will be chosen. There are many other factors you have no control over, including a dip in the market, an already overloaded agent, an agent that’s already selling your genre, or no more cash to use, etc. In some instances, there’s nothing you can do but be aware of timing and have the patience and perseverance to keep going and continue knocking on the next door.
2. You Gave the Agent a Poorly Written Query Letter
You might hold the golden ticket for a literary agent but if your query letter isn’t written to your best ability and triple-checked for common errors and mistakes, the agent won’t even get the chance to read your work. Your best bet is to bring your letter to an editor who can help you check your work and let you know if there’s an engagement issue with the text or grammatical errors you might have missed. After all, the query letter is this agent’s first impression of you, and you want to make it stand out from the crowd of other writers vying for a chance to be seen.
3. Your Genre Doesn’t Work for That Agent
There isn’t any sense submitting a completely different genre than the agent you’re after usually works with. They might take a chance and try something new but for the most part, they’ll usually stick to their preferred genre. A thorough search about the agents you’re interested in and the typical genre they work with will save you a lot of time and energy in the long run.
4. The Agent Represents a Competing Author
This goes back to some things you might not even be aware of or have control over. If an agent reads your query letter or a sample of your manuscript and finds that they are working to sell the same book or story from a different author, you’ll be rejected. They can’t sell the book twice and will most likely just stick to their current author. Again, a little research on these agents and what type of work they like to sell will go a long way for you.
5. You Didn’t Follow All Instructions
Literary agents are busy people and go through hundreds of queries and submissions every month and they don’t have time and energy to invest in writers who don’t take the entire process seriously. This can be as simple as not following simple instructions or required details when you submit your work. From an agent’s perspective, you might even look like a difficult writer to work with, and no one wants to work with someone who might seem like a gamble upfront.
The best way to get an agent’s good side is by thoroughly reading what they require from you on their website and completing all steps, so they know you’re serious and willing to put in the work from the start.
If you’re feeling stuck after the 10th attempt at getting an agent fell through, you’re not alone. There are other options you might want to consider like potentially writing another book. This might be hard to swallow since you spent a good portion of your time writing your current one, but with more writing comes more practice and expertise.
You’ve learned so much from writing your current book, now put all that wisdom together and write a new novel. You can also try to self-publish, although this might take even more time and money to accomplish. It takes a thorough knowledge of the industry and persistence like no other, so if you think you have what it takes, roll up those sleeves and get to work.
However, if you’re convinced that the book you wrote is a winner and it just needs a chance, sign up for my evaluation services where I read the first 50 pages of your manuscript, do a deep analysis of your work, and discuss my findings with you. You can also take advantage of my monthly Best-Selling Author’s Club where you receive access to VIP bonus content, freebies, and service discounts. There are countless resources out to make your journey of becoming a published author a reality. Rejection is inevitable, but you’ll only ever truly fail when you decide to give up.