Why You’re Getting Rejections

Awhile back, Nathan Bransford had a terrific post on “Why You Are Receiving Rejections.” He says if you keep getting rejections, it boils down to two reasons: either your query isn’t strong enough, or your query is fine but your project isn’t resonating with agents.

So true! He’s nailed it! He’s absolutely right!

But I have one thing to add. (Nathan, you’re awesome, I think you’re the coolest, so don’t take this wrong.)

There’s another reality that goes beyond your query and your book.



It’s the crowded marketplace.

It’s the fact that there are hundreds of writers competing for each slot in traditional print publishing.

Your query may need work. Your book may need work.


Your query and your book might be just fine and plenty of people would enjoy it. But because there are so many other queries in the queue, and perhaps bad luck and lack of serendipity and an annoying scarcity of fairy dust, agents and/or publishers aren’t biting.

The problem is in being able to figure out which category you’re in. You must do the work of figuring it out. Get a qualified critique partner. Hire an editor, someone who can address the big picture of your book: Is it interesting or is it boring? Does it feel derivative, or fresh? Does it make readers want to turn the page or fall asleep? Is it pretty good but have a fatal flaw?

There could come a point where you’ve done all you can, nobody’s biting, yet you have objective outside feedback that says your book really is good. What should you do?

Any or all of the following:

  • Keep querying.
  • Self publish.
  • Write another book and query that one.

Just remember, the problem could be your book. Or… maybe not.

Rachelle Gardner

Literary agent at Gardner Literary. Coffee & wine enthusiast (not at the same time) and dark chocolate connoisseur. I've worked in publishing since 1995 and I love talking about books!


  1. […] an agent pitch session. Since rejections are part of the query process, Rachelle Gardner explains why you’re getting rejections and Debbie Burke comments on the phenomenon of rave […]

  2. […] or your query is fine but your project isn’t resonating with agents. Agent Rachelle Gardner adds one more important reason to my list, and agent Jessica Faust has a list of her […]

  3. […] UPDATE: Agent Rachelle Gardner added a third reason: it might be the crowded marketplace. […]

  4. A. Suiter Clarke on February 11, 2015 at 4:07 PM

    The most frustrating part of the querying process is not knowing why it’s getting rejected, and wondering how long you’ll have to wait to figure it out.

  5. MLKR on September 9, 2014 at 8:18 PM

    After reading this post, I had one of those “I’m not the only one!” moments, and thought I’d offer my own comment.

    There are many aspects of querying that are “frustrating,” yet, for me, the toughest part is actually writing the query letter. I’ve picked up most books on querying an agent that I could probably write my own book on how to query an agent. And yet here I am, still without an agent, despite the advice from the experts. I find writing a whole novel – filled with plots and dialogue and climactic endings – less daunting than a writing a single page where I have to sell my idea, myself, and basically my soul to an unknown someone who may prefer a professional letter, a quirky letter, an in-depth summary, or a few lines to “peak my interest” letter. I’m no dummy, but after receiving enough rejection emails to string a lei around my neck, I broke down and started searching for a “How To Get a Literary Agent for Dummies” book. {Big sigh!} But I have a magnet that encourages me to “Never, never, never, never give up.” It also helps to know that Agatha Christie received rejections for five years before getting published; Louis L’Amour received 500 rejections before being picked up … THE PRINCESS DIARIES were rejected for three years before getting published. The moral of the story? I feel your pain, brother and sister writers!

  6. Ernesto V Oporto on June 4, 2014 at 10:55 PM

    Probably the worst part of being an author is rejection. There are very few fields where you can deal with rejection every day. I one of my many jobs I use to be a salesman for sophisticated electronics systems, and I would get a lot of No’s before I got a single Yes. The thing is that like every other job I had, the key is that you have to persevere and understand.
    Understand that there are a lot of really good authors out there competing with you for the attentions of an Agent.

    Persevere means you never, ever give up. The good things in life are not easy to get, nothing is for free, when you get a No or no response is like falling on your face, but you pick yourself up, learn from the feedback, and work on improving yourself and then you try again, and again.
    I came to the USA with 100 dollars in my wallet, I have lived a life that I can be proud of, but I had to work real hard to achieve the American Dream, and I did.
    So don’t complain, keep on trying, keep on learning and never give up writing.

  7. Donna Keevers Driver on January 22, 2014 at 6:04 PM

    The most frustrating thing about the query process is not knowing where you missed it. Was it your writing, the story, or the query letter that took longer to write and edit than the actual novel that caused that particular agent or publisher to close the door in your face?

    But that aside, thank you for this post. 🙂

  8. Busy Mama » Why You’re Getting Rejections on November 26, 2013 at 10:43 PM

    […] Comment below, or if you’re reading this via email, comment by clicking: HERE. […]

  9. Jon K on November 21, 2013 at 3:11 PM

    There may be a third reason: risk. An agent recently told me that she loved my book and my query, but that she would not take the risk of representing me without a substantial platform (and by substantial she indicted several thousands of followers on social media that would form an immediate market). I understand the whole business of time pressure in the agent and publishing business. Writers face the same demands on their time…. whether to invest in new material, make revisions to old, or spend time in platform creation. Agents are not unique in terms of time demands.
    Rachelle, your recent post regarding the Amazon phenomenon comes full circle with respect to the issue of new clients. The competitive nature of the market compels a firm grasp of the risk equation that a new author creates for the agent and the publisher. The agents and publishers risk-aversion behavior is anathema for an emerging writer. Who wants to take on unknown elements in a market steeped in turmoil? I have material published in Best American Essays, but I am confident (just based on the issue of risk and emerging authors) that my book will never see the light of day as a published work. It’s frustrating, confounding, depressing and otherwise a real conundrum.
    It is quite plausible that most new books will come to market though the self-publishing route of Amazon and other e-outlets rather than through traditional presses and agents. Agents must work to promote their present clients: new writers must work to promote the publication of their books. Maybe the two goals are no longer mutual under the new risk/reward e-publishing paradigm. Just my thoughts on the matter. JK

  10. […] A wonderful agent recently wrote an article essentially stating that fact. You can have a great query AND a great book and STILL get rejected. Repeatedly, and maybe forever. WHY YOU’RE GETTING REJECTIONS. […]

  11. […] Why  You’re Getting Rejections, from Rachelle Gardner: Yes, most agent rejections are the result of either your query or your […]

  12. LorraineDevonWilke on November 17, 2013 at 1:47 PM

    THANK YOU! I so appreciate your inclusion of the “it’s a crowded marketplace” as a pivotal reason behind the challenges of finding an agent or publisher. To put it all on either our query or our book is simply and quantifiably inaccurate. And sort of punitive.

    Many of us have worked very hard to whip our queries into stellar shape (I’ve had many comments to that effect!), as well as buff our books to the point of spit-shine, and still struggle to crack the “getting an agent” code, much less a publisher. And as one who reads, edits and critiques the work of other writers, as well as reads a lot of published novels that some unpublished work would put to shame, i know it’s not as simple as the right query or a good book.

    We are obligated pull our weight as writers to meet the expectations of not only the quality of our work but how to present it, but there ARE elements beyond our control that have impact. Not acknowledging those, as too many agents and publishers do, puts an unfair burden on writers. Your acknowledgement of the wily and often unpredictable, overcrowded marketplace is an honest and appreciated addition.

  13. Shaun Ryan on November 16, 2013 at 5:32 PM

    Waiting and non-response are part of the deal, so no problem. The frustrating part is the lack of feedback when you do hear back. Form writing sucks, in story and rejections. Tell me you just don’t connect with my prose style (got that back recently; it was helpful to know, thank you) or my themes don’t resonate or my characterization needs work ( a friend took that one and ran with it to publication) or that I’m too wordy. Some reason you’re not interested. One short sentence. We’ve got five good literary crime novels already this month.

    This is invaluable. I make big leaps forward with every pointed and objective criticism, so I want to hear it. Hit me. Tell it like it is.

  14. Stephanie on November 16, 2013 at 4:47 AM

    I don’t think I can pinpoint one specific part of querying, because every aspect of it is frustrating. Especially when you’ve formatted the query to the agency’s specs, and then the specific agent’s requirements- the agent you’ve been following for years who you feel you have a good grasp of their personality, you love the articles they provide, and you value their words- and you learn the agent doesn’t accept your genre! This literally happened yesterday, as I went to send my query to you. I may have cried into my keyboard.

    I can understand why so many people self publish. Ive just begun the process and it is more challenging than writing the book itself.

    • Linda Fausnet on November 18, 2013 at 11:22 AM

      Agreed. I also hate that some agents basically say “Wow me. Woo me. Tell me how much you love me. Be sure to personalize your query (and I don’t mean just the name). Tell me you’ve done your homework on me.” You do that, and you get a form rejection – or nothing at all – just as fast and you’ve wasted a lot of your time. If they don’t like the book idea in the query, they don’t care if you’ve done your homework. You’re not gonna get a personal response.They still say no. If they DO like your idea, they’ll ask for more. Doesn’t seem to matter if you personalize it.

      • Alex on December 3, 2013 at 3:50 PM

        I personally don’t like the idea how they expect you to write a custom-made, tailored, unique, wonderful query letter, but then send you a standard pre-written rejection letter.

        You know, our time is a valuable as your time.
        Reading queries is your job, but preparing and sending them out is not mine. I don’t get paid to do this.
        You should just accept, and expect, a standard query letter.
        I don’t understand the purpose of making it tailored to each individual agent. Other than the fact that they are all narcissistic, power-tripping, elitist.
        When you can’t write, agent.

        • Brad Black on February 9, 2014 at 3:58 AM

          Bitter much?

  15. Anna Roberts Moore on November 15, 2013 at 8:33 AM

    Back in the day, you would send your completed manuscript to a publisher and either get a rejection or get nothing at all. Rarely, if ever, would you get an offer.

    Then along came the agent. The agent was supposed to get the publisher’s door open for you. The agent was supposed to get your book read by the publisher. The agent was supposed to hold your hand while the publisher tried to make money off of you.

    Did anyone else, like me, learn about literary agents by reading Stephen King’s On Writing?

    Now it seems that not only is the market crowded with writers, it is also saturated with literary agents. Agents who ONLY want high-concept nonfiction dealing with espionage and housewives; agents who REFUSE to accept romance, women’s fiction, relationship fiction, chick lit, or anything that has a female in the story; and agents who are ONLY looking for YA science fiction or Middle Grade science fiction, or sci-fi picture books.

    Newsflash! New Job Opening for Sub-Agents! We need a sub-agent to get the agent’s door open for us. We need a sub-agent to hold our hand while the agent is reviewing our query letter. We need a sub-agent to get the agent to ask for a full.

    So, to me, the most frustrating thing about the query process is – all of it.

    • Alex on December 3, 2013 at 4:44 PM

      it’s like animal farm. The literary agents have become what they were first designed to help assist with.

  16. Bart Cleveland on November 15, 2013 at 8:14 AM

    Rachelle, Thank you for taking the time to encourage writers. I think you’re spot on about considering a third reason for rejections. I’ve certainly grown a lot from doing many of the tips you shared. I’m seeing results!

  17. Stephen H. King on November 15, 2013 at 7:35 AM

    Came on this a couple of days late, but it just showed up in my feed today. One of these days I’ll come to understand why that happens that way.

    Anyway, thank you, Rachelle. It’s good to see someone on that side of the fence say something other than “if you haven’t been snapped up by an agent after X queries, your writing must read like the spawn of Satan’s excretions read by a Vogon master poet.”

    What’s the most frustrating thing about the query process? Knowing my work is good, knowing I have people waiting to buy it as soon as I give up on agents and self-pub it, knowing it’s probably the most crowded marketplace in the entire world of novels (and it’s that way for a reason), knowing that the only way I’m ever going to see my book in trade paperback format is to make it through the proverbial gates with first an agent and then a traditional publisher, and yet continuing to hear from agents — well, stuff like this, that I read just literally yesterday:

    Thanks for thinking of me. I read your query with interest, but I’m
    afraid this project is not right for me. I’m overwhelmed with material
    at the moment and not really taking on new clients. Good luck with your
    writing, and search for representation.”

    Oh, well,sorry to bug you, Sir. So I should’ve known you weren’t really taking on new clients because your site said you were? Or are you reading queries that are already doomed to fail “with interest” because you like sending rejections?

    (speaking to the agent hypothetically, of course; I never actually reply to queries because, you know, that would be gauche of a poor little writer like me)

    Yeah, that’s definitely the frustrating part.

    – TOSK

    • Linda Fausnet on November 18, 2013 at 11:25 AM

      I had an agent tell me she “enjoyed my novel immensely” and that it “has a serious chance of publication” and she was “seriously considering taking it on”. Then she ignored me for two months before finally telling me she was “too busy to take it on”. Probably the worst heartbreak of my writing career….so far. If you’re TOO BUSY, then WHY did you ask for three chapters, then the whole thing..then change your mind??

  18. john W. howell on November 15, 2013 at 7:08 AM

    The most frustrating part was no response from agents and especially those with a multiple submission restrictions. I finally had a rule: No response in a month means no. I went the route of finding a publisher who would work without an agent. (not a vanity press) Currently reviewing the galleys for my first and have the second in the can. I expect I will have a nice career without an agent, but would have like one initially.

  19. Dan Erickson on November 15, 2013 at 7:05 AM

    I’m in complete agreement with the idea that the market is too crowded. Of course I haven’t even tried shopping my own work yet, but I see many out there who have shopped and been disappointed.

  20. Cheyenne Campbell on November 15, 2013 at 6:48 AM

    The most frustrating part for me, on one particular MS, has been not knowing which of those it is!

    I’ve had a publisher offer me a contract on this book, agents tell me they love the voice, idea, freshness, themes, etc., but there’s always that missing piece. I’ve had agents refer me to other agents who’d be more into the genre. Then, crickets.

    I hate to give up on it because all these reactions have made me tighten it and make it the best I feel it can be right now, without shelling out more for another editorial eye on it (which I have done already). At this point, my head tells me my problem is marketplace.

    Except my heart hasn’t caught up to the fact that this *doesn’t* make me a rubbish writer.

  21. Marlo Berliner on November 15, 2013 at 6:47 AM

    Great post! I can forgive not hearing back from a query, but once it rises to the level of being asked for a partial or full, then I feel an agent (or editor)should have an obligation to answer. My first book had no less than a dozen full reads as well as several partials, and most agents gave lengthy responses, however I had to write off one full and one partial that were never responded to. Consequently, I won’t be querying those agents with my new project. I’d also like to ask your opinion of something. I was recently told by an agent and an editor at a retreat that a fourth option of what to do with a good book that doesn’t land anywhere is to put it on Wattpad (if it’s YA) and see what happens. What do you think of this advice?

  22. David Todd on November 14, 2013 at 7:12 PM

    You’ve said it well, Rachelle. The crowded marketplace means many excellent books will never see the light of traditional publishing day.

    But, your post has given me a new idea. Rather than try to publish a book I’m going to sell pixie dust. The market should be huge.

    • JosephPote on November 15, 2013 at 9:29 AM

      Hah! Good luck with this one, David. Sounds like a great entrepeneural project!

  23. Charlotte Brentwood on November 14, 2013 at 6:40 PM

    I think the most frustrating part is the emotional rollercoaster. One day, you’re getting requests; the next, you’re getting rejections. Then you’re waiting for responses, swinging between hope and despair. This is where I am right now!

    The other thing is form rejections which sound like they might not be forms. You find yourself analysing each phrase to try to glean some kind of feedback. I wish agents would just stick to a very generic form, so there’s no room for ambiguity. For example, I received a form which said the pages didn’t draw the agent in as she’d hoped. It twigged in my memory, and I found the exact same rejection from two years ago on another project. It’s the type of rejection that makes you think your pages are at fault, when in reality the agent just didn’t like something about your query and you’ll never know exactly what.

  24. KJD on November 14, 2013 at 5:04 PM

    Response time – it normally takes so long to receive a reply – if one arrives at all!

  25. Chris Schumerth on November 14, 2013 at 12:31 PM

    The most frustrating part is not getting feedback and thus having to guess at why your queries are rejected.

  26. Ramona on November 14, 2013 at 12:14 PM

    In my opinion the rejection portion of a query process tends to be the most frustrating. Most agents are on the look out for high expectations within that one page summary alone, by turning our single presentation into our only ticket with the publishing industry. That being said, they are judging the book by its cover, without allowing the writer a second chance to impress them with what might turn out to be a breakout novel.

    Although this is the way it’s always been with writers and agents, and it will most likely continue to be, it would be more beneficiary to the writer to see more of an enlightening feedback rather than plain words of rejection such as “Thanks, but not for us.” kind of response. As a writer I invest a great deal of time polishing my work in preparation for such unique query, therefore I deserve a decent closure from the judging agent.

    How am I expected to fix my writing flaws without identifying the source of the problem in the first place? Meanwhile I am left with nothing but more questions on what might have gone wrong, nevertheless the insecurity of second guessing myself and my materials.

    Thank you for allowing us the opportunity to share our thoughts.
    Ramona M.

  27. Stephsco on November 14, 2013 at 11:00 AM

    I agree on the crowded marketplace comment, since this type of rejection extends beyond agents to publishers. You could have a great book that snagged you an agent, and then run into rejections on the editor/publisher end. It’s for so many reasons; they picked up a book similar to yours (probably not, but that’s what they say!) and don’t have room for 2 Steampunk alternate histories in their catalog.

    The best advice I’ve gotten from seasoned writers is to write another book. With each project, you grow as a writer. If one is tapping out, try another. Maybe later a chance will come up for book 1.

  28. Keli Gwyn on November 14, 2013 at 10:59 AM

    There’s a lot of truth to the crowded marketplace theory. There are only so many spots and oodles of writers vying for them. Having an agent, as awesome as that is, doesn’t guarantee finding a home for a project. Agents are getting rejected right along with writers, and I have a hunch getting a pass hurts you almost as much as it does your client.

  29. Elizabeth Kitchens on November 14, 2013 at 10:53 AM

    Great post, Rachelle! I think my book falls in the crowded market category, so I’ve decided to self-publish it. I’m applying to graduate school as well, so I don’t want deadlines and the other stresses of traditional publishing. I’ll try traditional publishing later with another book.

  30. Lori Schafer on November 14, 2013 at 10:01 AM

    I view the query process as something like a band sending out demo tapes. Musical competence is definitely a prerequisite for success, but there are thousands of bands out there who make great music, yet never succeed. You have to get your music heard by the right rep, the one with whom it’s going to resonate; the one who’s going to believe that your music will resonate with large numbers of other people. You can, of course, take active steps to try to make that happen – but sometimes it just doesn’t. Not every musician can be a rock star. But sometimes the better musicians are the ones playing in the orchestra. And that, too, is a pretty cool gig.

    • Kathleen S. Allen on November 14, 2013 at 10:53 AM

      I like this. So true.

  31. Lindsay Harrel on November 14, 2013 at 9:24 AM

    Without a doubt, the most difficult part of submitting to an agent (whether querying or submitting a full) is the wait. It’s liable to put all sorts of doubts in my mind and make me wonder if the agent is just busy or not interested.

  32. Neil Larkins on November 14, 2013 at 8:46 AM

    Get a “qualified critique partner.” Been looking for 15 years with no luck. (Haven’t even found an unqualified critique partner.) Beginning to think they are as fanciful as that fairy dust but they must exist somewhere. Maybe where the fairies are? Good post though, Rachelle.

    • Rachelle Gardner on November 14, 2013 at 9:38 AM

      I hear your frustration, Neil. While I know many, many authors who have long-term successful relationships with critique partners, I know others can’t seem to find one. You’re not alone.

      • Joe Snoe on November 20, 2013 at 11:19 PM

        I must be lucky. A very nice lady (retired professor) at our local library “Write Club” approached me after I read something to the group and has been reading my chapters. She is super-affirming. She does not criticize much or make many suggestions comments; but when she does, I listen.

    • Kathleen S. Allen on November 14, 2013 at 10:48 AM

      CPseek.com, howaboutwecp.tumblr, world literary cafe on Facebook has a CP ongoing list. I’m sure there are others out there. What do you write? Take a look at my website: http://kathleensallen.weebly.com and see if you want to exchange chapters. I am @kathleea on Twitter. Follow me and I can DM you with my email.

    • Linda Fausnet on November 18, 2013 at 11:28 AM

      I am looking for one, too! I write middle grade, women’s, LGBT, and general fiction. I need a critique partner who WILL FINISH WHAT THEY START! I’m up for it if you are, Neil! lindafausnet@gmail.com

  33. Andrew Budek-Schmeisser on November 14, 2013 at 8:15 AM

    The thing I like least about querying is the requirement for emailed queries, because email is simply not reliable.

    A couple of months ago I sent a requested query, waited 30 days, and then asked a friend who’s represented by that agency whether I should follow up. She looked into it, and found out that while I had gotten an auto-reply, the query itself was nowhere to be found.

    I’ve had this problem with my personal email as well – many emails have simply not arrived in my inbox, and emails I’ve sent apparently never went through the server (even though they appeared in my ‘sent’ folder).

    I’m all for saving trees, but I’d be much happier with paper queries.

    It might cut down on the agents’ workload, as well; if querying isn’t ‘free’, queries might become more focused, both in content and in their chosen recipients.


  34. Dean K Miller on November 14, 2013 at 7:45 AM

    Throughout the process, I never forget that it is always a subjective decision. Manuscripts of equal quality, query letters the same, and one will make it, one won’t. Whose to say why? Kind of like throwing darts in the dark, knowing the dart board isn’t really there…yet we continue for what else would we do?

  35. Richard Mabry on November 14, 2013 at 7:32 AM

    The query process always frustrated me because 1) I was afraid I’d make some fatal error in my query that would make the agent delete it and head for chocolate to kill the bad taste, and 2) in this age of instant gratification, fast Internet downloads, and never wanting to wait, the process continued to move at the speed of an iceberg. Of course, sending a query to you proved to be the exception, for which I’ll always be grateful.

  36. Walt M. on November 14, 2013 at 7:29 AM

    Slightly off the subject, but I remember querying Nathan Bransford back when he was an agent. Of all the form letter rejections I ever received, his was the best.

  37. Paul Holte on November 14, 2013 at 2:21 AM

    An auto reply from an agent letting the author know that they’ve received the query is great to see. My latest rejection had 2 lines of input on why they rejected it…and I’ve never been so happy. I know there’s not enough time in the day to provide input to all queries but it sure is nice to receive.

  38. Ty Strange on November 14, 2013 at 1:00 AM

    I don’t consider it frustrating. It’s a process, one that requires, as you mentioned, a bit of luck, timing, and being in the right place at the right time. That’s called “getting discovered.” Just because it is easier to access those who can discover you doesn’t make it easier. As a process it becomes a game, like internet dating, putting your best foot forward, hoping she doesn’t have a gagillian emails in her inbox already so that you stand out. No response, move on, there’s someone out there just right for you.

  39. Lani on November 13, 2013 at 11:49 PM

    I’m diggin’ the comments here. What I find interesting is we writers are asked to check and double check everything and jump through flaming hoops, but when I go to an agents page, its got typos, links that don’t work, etc. So agents are not held to the same standards that we are.

    That being said, here we all are, trying our best to get our work out there.

    • Linda Fausnet on November 18, 2013 at 11:18 AM

      So true. NOTHING more frustrating than finally finding an agent who is open to submissions AND is actively seeking work in your genre, you put together a whole query according to their specifications – and BOOM. The email bounces. The email address is wrong or no longer in service. A huge waste of the writer’s time and no one cares.

  40. Justin on November 13, 2013 at 9:51 PM

    The hard part is not knowing whether to try harder or cut your losses and find a new hobby. I could always start a recovery group, a twelve-step for people foolish enough to begin writing. I’ve seen crack addicts with better prospects–for real. Oh oh, that’s it! I’ll write a novel about crack cum fifty shades cum hunger games. Oh man, this is going to be epic!
    Rach-I’ll send you the query as soon as I’m finished.

  41. Wendy on November 13, 2013 at 9:36 PM

    I really wish more agents would be clear about things they know they DON’T want. (I recognize that “things that might be interesting” can be a long and unpredictable list.) I dig through agency websites, l sift through blogs and tweet streams, I look up old interviews, all to see whether a particular agent at some point in the past said they’re interested in what I write – but I’ve come across at least a dozen agents who rep “commercial fiction” and don’t break it down any further than that. If I’m going to invest ~20 minutes per agent into research BEFORE I query, all on the premise of not wasting their time, I would really like agents to take 20 minutes at some point in their careers to say “I love science fiction, I will consider romance, but I’m not interested in trying to sell paranormal regency.”

    • Rachelle Gardner on November 14, 2013 at 9:42 AM

      I hear you, Wendy, but most of us just aren’t that specific and rigid about what we’ll look at. Why should we limit ourselves? The minute I say I won’t look at paranormal regency, somebody will probably have one that I’d love, if only I looked at it. Like most agents, I’m very clear about what I DON’T rep: sci/fi, fantasy, poetry, devotionals, children’s. Breaking it down further than that wouldn’t serve me well. I want to keep my mind open for something to surprise me. I believe most agents are the same.

      • Wendy on November 14, 2013 at 9:58 AM

        Yeah, I can understand that. The flip side is, though, that you’re choosing to accept queries about all those paranormal regencies even when you probably won’t be interested – and there seem to be some agents who then get grumpy about having to wade through so much that obviously wouldn’t interest them . . .

        I will say, I love when agents have done interviews on various writing blogs – it makes it a lot easier to track down whether “romance” means “women’s fiction” or “romance (with a Christian slant, obviously, and no sex please)” or “no seriously, any romance sounds good to me.”

  42. Shelli Littleton on November 13, 2013 at 9:12 PM

    The most frustrating thing about a query process? Having to write about my own self/work. I interview missionaries and write about them constantly for Missions Mosaic magazine, but writing about myself is like pulling teeth.

    • Andrew Budek-Schmeisser on November 14, 2013 at 7:32 AM

      I agree with that, Shelli!

  43. Naomi Musch on November 13, 2013 at 8:24 PM

    Kathleen said it perfectly.

    • Kathleen S. Allen on November 14, 2013 at 10:52 AM


  44. Kathleen S. Allen on November 13, 2013 at 8:13 PM

    The most frustrating part of querying is not hearing back from an agent. I think that for most writers, a no response is better than nothing. Also, i wish more agents would put their wishlists on their websites/blogs and update them like they do for the #mswl Twitter feed. I wish more agents had an auto-reply for when they receive your query, some do but some don’t and there’s no way to know if the agent has gotten your query, especially if they are the “no response means no” type of an agent. I enjoy the process though. It’s always exciting to get a partial or full request. The hardest part is the wait.

    • Aightball7 on November 13, 2013 at 8:55 PM

      THIS! I’ve got a full and a partial that I’ve written off. Did check ups and resends after revisions or seeing that the agent had “caught up on all submissions”. Either I’m hitting a spam filter or I”m just not going to hear back =(

    • Rachelle Gardner on November 14, 2013 at 9:51 AM

      It’s a tough one, Kathleen. As I’ve explained in numerous posts, an agent’s #1 priority every day is taking care of current clients, and this is often overwhelming in itself. The wide world of non-clients, or hopeful clients, is always there, but we will never be able to be as perfectly responsive and forthcoming with “wish lists” as writers want, because of the time factor.

      It’s certainly made more difficult by the huge numbers of writers who pay no attention to our wish lists and submission guidelines. For example, my submission guidelines, posted in at least 3 places, clearly states that queries are to be sent to our agency email address (representation@booksandsuch.com) and all those queries receive auto-replies so you know we received it. However, everyday I receive several queries at my own email address. No doubt there are hundreds of writers out there cursing my name for never responding, not even with an auto-reply. But I have no system for an auto-reply on my personal address, and I haven’t promised one if the query is sent to the wrong place.

      It’s hard for us to be like this — we are the kind of people who want to make everyone happy! — but in business you have to make difficult but crucial choices about how to spend your time. It’s becoming more difficult to keep the revenue coming in publishing, making it even more important that we run our businesses wisely, or soon we’ll be out of business.

      • Kathleen S. Allen on November 14, 2013 at 10:42 AM

        Thanks for replying. Of course I want an agent to focus on their clients first—I hope to be one of those clients eventually—and I realize that some authors don’t follow guidelines. However, it’s still frustrating when you spend time researching the “perfect” agent for your book and hours and hours writing and rewriting your query with beta readers or critique partners and then don’t hear anything sometimes for months or at all. I don’t have a solution for the process, it is what it is. And since I feel like I need an agent, I will keep going. Every time I write an new book I feel I am closer because writing is a process too and I am learning to be a better writer.

        Have you seen the lit reality show in Italy called, Masterpiece? Maybe we should do that here. LOL. Here’s the link for the news item: http://www.nytimes.com/2013/11/14/arts/television/masterpiece-an-italian-reality-show-for-writers.html?pagewanted=1&utm_medium=twitter&_r=2&partner=rss&emc=rss&utm_source=twitterfeed&

  45. Lani on November 13, 2013 at 8:10 PM

    Aarrggggg! 😛