I’ve sent out 39 query letters to literary agents in the eleven days since I decided to do so. So far, I have received five rejection letters (actually, they were emails as that is how it is done these days.) Most agents don’t even bother to send rejection emails. Instead, they just inform authors that “if you don’t hear from us with interest within X weeks or months” then we aren’t interested. I call this approach “Timed-outs” and am still weeks away from even the earliest timed-out date, so the rejections based on timed-outs will likely begin to soar once the trigger dates hit.
As I mentioned in earlier posts, my normal reaction to a rejection is, “Great! Now I’m one rejection closer to being signed by an agent.” But my reaction to the rejection I received yesterday was more akin to, “Wow! Maybe my stories suck and aren’t worthy of an agent’s interest.” I was puzzled by that very different reaction.
It took a while but I finally figured out what triggered the pity-party reaction. The agent who rejected me had just started her own agency. She didn’t appear to have any authors signed with her new firm. I figured she’d be much more open to new authors than agents who have already signed a lot of them. So when even she rejected me I felt rejection dejection. That’s what I get for having expectations! I should know better!
I have twenty-nine or thirty books that cost me a small fortune to self-publish and may be of zero interest to agents and traditional publishers because they have already been published, and I have almost nothing that is unpublished and query-ready.
I now plan to hold off self-publishing my three latest stories, and future ones, perhaps until I’ve had at least two hundred rejections. In this way, I hope to more quickly query literary agents with higher quality unpublished stories.
If this new plan doesn’t work, I can always eventually go back to self-publishing. It is much more expensive to self-publish (primarily due to the high cost for illustrations) but it is more quickly gratifying to be able to hold freshly published books in my hands and to see them being read and enjoyed. As an added bonus, I don’t receive rejection letters.