Tag s | Get Published

Make Me Jump off the Fence

So, when querying me, maybe you followed my guidelines, submitted an appropriate manuscript, and your work has much to recommend itself. So why am I not getting back to you right away? Am I ignoring you? I’m sure it feels that way, and I’m sorry.

What has probably happened is that your manuscript (and yours is not alone), has me sitting on the fence. Think about that expression. Who wants to sit on a fence? It can’t be comfortable!

I may be on the fence for reasons, including but not limited to:

  1. I have several submissions in your category and am unsure if yours is The One.
  2. I’m not sure if your platform is sufficient for me to take the leap.
  3. I’m unsure if your topic will work.
  4. I’m debating if your manuscript has a chance in a crowded market.
  5. I’m undecided about your writing style or voice.

What do all these points have in common? That’s right: uncertainty.

In other words, your submission is good, but is it one I think I can sell? As you know, reputable agents don’t charge a fee to market manuscripts to editors. I don’t get paid unless I sell your work, so we are partners. When your book is rejected, both you and I are rejected. I’m not shrugging my shoulders while pocketing your hard-earned fee. I’m taking a chance with you.

For everyone’s sake, I need the chance I take to be based on my knowledge and experience, not whimsy or even my high opinion of you personally. I have to be selective about the books I choose to represent.

Though this process has its frustrations, there are significant benefits. One is that editors don’t get swamped with hundreds of terrible manuscripts that authors paid agents to pitch. Instead, when an agent submits a proposal, that agent says she thinks the project will fit with the publisher and editor, and she is saying she believes in the book and the author.

So Now What?

Being ignored is no fun, but the most painful experiences are often the most instructive. Now is a good time to go back over your proposal and see what spark it’s missing that keeps it from getting a response. Or send out a proposal for a different project and see if that resonates. Whichever path you take, make sure the proposal and manuscript sparkle. Do everything you can to get the agent excited about you and your work. Make the agent jump off the fence.

Your turn:

How many books did you submit before an agent jumped off the fence?

What do you think is key to getting an agent to respond to a proposal?


Leave a Comment

The Damaged Author

Anyone can easily identify a person who has been damaged by life and in need of help. The same is true with damaged authors. If you are in this category, writing about your experiences and the lessons learned can be both cathartic and spiritually fruitful, but taking a damaged-life perspective …

Read More

The Challenge for the Debut Author

What are the chances of a debut author getting a contract with a major publisher? What if the author does not have an agent? It’s always hard to get the first contract for any author. It’s a little like “American Idol” with hundreds, if not thousands, of people in line …

Read More

Five Lessons from the Road to Publication

Our guest post is by Ginny L. Yttrup who is the award-winning author of five novels including her latest, Home, which released earlier this month. She writes contemporary women’s fiction and enjoys exploring the issues everyday women face. “Publishers Weekly” dubbed Ginny’s work “as inspiring as it is entertaining.” When not …

Read More

2017 Christian Writers Market Guide Now Online!

The 2017 edition of The Christian Writers Market Guide is officially available in print and ebook (paperback $22.99, ebook $9.99). Check your favorite bookstore or online retailer for a copy. Make sure you have a copy of this book in your arsenal! We are also very excited to announce that all the content …

Read More

The Send…A Proposal’s Weakest Link

You spend hundreds and hundreds of hours writing and re-writing your book. You work meticulously to craft a proposal for an agent or publisher. You talk to your friends about the big step you are about to take, the step of sending your proposal out. The power of email will …

Read More

Writers Learn to Wait

Ours is a process industry. Good publishing takes time. Unfortunately time is another word for “waiting.” No one really likes to wait for anything. Our instant society (everything from Twitter to a drive-thru burger) is training us to want things to happen faster. Awhile ago I wrote about how long it takes to get published which gave an honest appraisal of the time involved. Below are some of the things for which a writer must learn to wait.

Waiting for the Agent

We try our best to reply to submissions within 6-8 weeks and are relatively good about that. But if your project passes the first review stage and we are now reviewing your entire manuscript remember that reading a full manuscript is much more demanding than reading a few short proposals.

Read More

Lessons from a Conference

I recently returned home from teaching at the Oregon Christian Writer’s Conference, held in Portland, Oregon. It was a grand time of sharing and laughter, learning and listening. Here are the main lessons I brought home with me from this time spent in the company of fellow writers: 1. Even …

Read More

Why Attend a Writer’s Conference?

In my blog of May 25, 2016, I invited folks to submit ideas for future blogs. Today’s blog is to respond to Rebekah Love Dorris’s question: “As a busy parent of young children, I scramble to find time to even write. How necessary is it to attend conferences if I …

Read More