Pab, mind my asking how this has worked out for you? I put a post in the forum about numbers... Was/is it worth the time for you? Thanks
And it took a while, but that manuscript just chalked up its 100th rejection this morning. Maybe that's the sign.
I don't think that agent rejections are the metric you should measure success by. Remember, agents are in the publishing business. They aren't necessarily rejecting your book because the writing isn't up to par or because they don't like the story. They may be rejecting it because they don't have the appropriate industry contacts to sell it or because the market is soft on what you're writing right now.
So don't focus on them. You can't change what they think or know. But you can change your writing.
Work on the issue of craft first. Pick a couple of books on craft. I like anything by Donald Maass. Join a critique group and get some feedback on your writing from others. If you have grammar issues or problems with syntax, pick up a book on grammar. Take a class on writing through Media Bistro or Gotham Writers if that's within your means. If not, check out writers websites like here and Verla Kay and Absolute Write. If you have the money, attend a writer's conference. If not, check out Write On.com which hosts a free online conference every summer. Most of their articles stay online.
Once you have a good handle on craft, then you need to start examining your plot. Are your characters making reasonable, explainable decisions (within the bounds of their character)? Are they reacting to their environment in a way that makes sense? Are they sympathetic and interesting? This is something you need an independent, outside reader to ascertain. Is your plot stale and uninteresting? Is it appropriate for the age group you want to write for with regards to voice? There are lots of little nit picks you can use to change up your novel. A single scene can be the difference between awesome and sucktastic.
And once you've done all of that, and gotten lots of great feedback, revise it again. I usually do at least four drafts before my agent even sees an MS, and she only sees it after I've had a BETA go over it as well. This is the kind of due diligence that writers have to do to hone their craft. Writing isn't a sprint. It's a marathon. Just think of all your trunked works as training for the big race. Every writer has trunked work. You have to get the crappy words out so the good ones can find their place.
So don't give up. Dig deep, and don't measure your success by what you have and haven't sold, or by being agented or not, measure it by your ability to craft a well thought out and engrossing story. Because that's the real measure of success.
I hope that helps, and motivates you to keep trying.
Sorry, Justina, it really doesn't. You said all the right things, but they're the same stuff I've heard before.
This one was the book I wrote to reassure myself after the debacle of the one before it. (That other one's first draft was written in a 21 day sprint at the insistence of my agent who wanted something to give to a specific editor who was looking for a particular concept. After I finished the agent read three pages and said she didn't like it and to go away.)
It's been through seven drafts. I worked in all of the notes and suggestions from my guinea pigs before submitting, and revised based upon notes from the few agents who requested partials or fulls from the first batch.
The problem is that there are too many writers out there chasing the dream, and too few agents willing to take a chance on someone who doesn't have four or five published novels under their belt already. And in today's publishing field you have to have an agent to even get something over the transom.
My experiment in e-publishing has convinced me that it's just not a viable option; I've not made back enough to cover the cost of professional editing and if I hadn't done the cover myself for free I would be considerably in the hole right now. So I won't go down that road with this book.
Four failures is more than enough for me at this point. I'm starting work on a fifth novel next week, but this time around it's not going to be YA. I'm going to be very gun-shy about trying my hand at a market that doesn't really have room for me.
Pab--I sent you a note, can you please get in touch with me. Wanted to tell u re a superhero anthology from Entangled books.
I hope you're still writing. There's a reason the muse won't leave you alone. Sometimes the book is good, but there's just not a market for it at this time. Keep them around and re-query them in a few years, or when you think the market is changing. For example, if you're writing for YA males, readership has crashed and few boys age 13-17 want to read. They want to play video games and torture their fathers (ah, memories). There are many factors like that which come into play. Maybe you wrote a masterpiece, but if they think it targets a demographic that isn't buying, they'll reject it. That said, I recommend to ALWAYS write what you're passionate about and never set out to write a story with marketing in mind. Just something to consider when you ask yourself "why don't they want my story".
Best Wishes and Happy Writing!
I'll give up when it's no longer fun. I admit, submissions are no fun but writing is. It is what keeps me sane. I agree with the others. Don't let rejection be the reason you quit.
I'm sure by now, with all the supportive posts I've read, that you're back on track. I think the thing that we all have been reminded of is that we write because we have to. It is an innate part of our makeup, a compelling force that is working within us. If your story moves just one person then you have accomplished what you set out to do. And that is all that any writer can truly hope to do. :)
This is such an interesting discussion! I am a newby, querying my first manuscript to a grand total of one agent (so far!). I am convinced that this is what I want to do, therefore, I will do it. Honestly, I like being in a writing group and sharing my ideas with others, getting published will be the icing on the cake. I have no new advice. Everyone has already said what I would have said. Good luck. I believe there is a niche for you somewhere!
If being a writer is what really matters to you, then, even if you try to give up; you can't! Like you, years ago I was tired of the constant rejection - so, I gave up writing, or, at least I though I did... There were stories inside of me that still needed writing. It took me a while accept that I am a writer and the need to write is greater than the rejections. I am not YET published, but I will get there eventually if I keep plugging on.
My advice, put it away for a while, if ideas come and you feel the need the write, then, you don't stop.