While querying my MG manuscript I would soak up success stories online, hoping to find clues that would help me formulate a plan for my own eventual success story. For every 100 queries sent to agents, approximately 5 to 7 partial or full requests, and from there at least one offer of representation. Boom! Done.
Not so much.
There is no cookie-cutter formula. Like a snowflake, or a fingerprint, every writer’s success story is different, unique to their individual journey. And in my opinion, being brave enough to write a solid query letter, pushing send, and taking the risk to put your dream out there for others to critique is a success story in itself. To me, all writers who take the chance are heroes, whether they are offered representation or not.
My main reason for sharing my numbers is to encourage my writer friends, to help them (you) to see how each rejection inched me closer to my goal; and honestly, how toward the end I felt like giving up. Possibly, you have been there too. Or maybe even there right now.
In the spring and early summer of 2018 I queried 110 agents.
Form Rejections: 39
Personal Rejections: 3
Closed No Response (CNR): 58
Partial Requests: 3
Full Requests: 7
Re-write and Resubmit (R&R): 1
I received the R&R on my birthday in July. The task seemed so daunting, I put the manuscript aside for two months and ruminated. I wanted to give up.
By early autumn, I ordered a how-to-book about plot and character arcs. One of the agents who had sent a personal rejection suggested the book, “Creating Character Arcs” by K.M. Weiland.
I spent months studying, jotting notes in the margins, wondering if I had the writing chops to pull it off. There were many times when I wasn’t sure, but by late autumn the manuscript was complete.
I felt insecure. What if I sent the R&R back to the agent and she didn’t like it? I felt a strong compulsion to wait.
I had an idea to start querying again. If I received a few requests, maybe the revised manuscript was strong enough to be resubmitted. Maybe. And so, I began to requery and received 6 requests from 54 queries. One of the requests was a partial that became a full within two weeks. I thought this was a good sign.
With this good news, I thought it would be a good time to send the R&R agent the vetted and newly revised manuscript, but it was early December, and so I decided to wait until after the holidays.
And then on December 5th, I received an email from one of the six agents who had requested. She says that she “love, love, loves” my story and wants to chat. What a surprise! Oh, my! Yay!!
I immediately sent the R&R agent the manuscript along with a detailed letter that I had previously drafted regarding the changes I had made using bullet points, etc. She wrote back that she would get to it after the holidays. I had a feeling the “chat” with the other agent was going to be an offer, but there was no guarantee of that. She may have been requesting revisions. And I wanted the R&R agent to get the ms just in case.
Yes, the “chat” was an offer to represent my MG book. I was, of course, elated! I contacted the other agents who had requested materials, and a few pending queries about the offer, but since the deadline was two days before Christmas Eve many of the agents and another who had requested the full were rushed. Many of them said they needed more time, and the others who had read it quickly, like the R&R agent, said it was “lovely” and I’m a “great writer” but they weren’t connecting, mainly because of the rushed reading.
Yet I was overjoyed with my offer, and I sincerely enjoyed chatting with Patty, so I accepted her offer. And after the holidays I signed my contract with Metamorphosis Lit Agency. I already feel like part of the family there, and everyone has been so supportive.
I share my story and these numbers to show my fellow writers and others that yes, I made some mistakes along the way. I made some strategic miscalls too. Many times I wanted to give up. But still, it all somehow came together. I never gave up, and in the end that’s all that matters.