Update On My Queries to Agents

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to agents and traditional publishers because they have already been published, and I have almost nothing that is unpublished and query-ready.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 In this way, I hope to more quickly query literary agents with higher quality unpublished stories.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.

With Love,





About russtowne

I'm awed by the beauty of nature and the power of love and gratitude. Some of my favorite sensory experiences include waves crashing on rocky shores, waterways in ancient redwood and fern-filled forests, and rain. My wife and I have been married since 1979. We have 3 adult children and 5 grandchildren. I manage a wealth management firm that I founded in 2003. My Beloved is a Special Education teacher for Kindergartners and First Graders. I'm a published author of approximately 60 books in a variety of genres for grownups and children.
This entry was posted in Beta reader, Middle Grades, chapter books, dragons, knights,, illustrations, Literary Agents, Query Letters, Rejection Letters, Uncategorized and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

16 Responses to Update On My Queries to Agents

  1. As you say, give it a good go. You never know. 🙂

  2. I hear this from so many Russ, it’s hard to get a book published! Keep at it! ❤
    Diana xo

  3. Russ I love your energy and perseverance!

  4. Mrs. P says:

    I know you’ve seen this sort of thing before but I liked this particular version because it states why they were rejected. You might just be in a very elite club. http://www.litrejections.com/best-sellers-initially-rejected/

  5. Rejections mean nothing regarding the value and quality of your book, Russ. It means the agent didn’t think she/he could convince a publisher that they could make money from it. I learned this long ago, and it’s why I self-publish. I’m not at an age where I want to wait for many months (or years) to hit the right agent at the right time. I believe in my product (my books), I’ve researched the publishing field thoroughly, and I get great feedback from my readers (as well as sales). That’s enough for me. That said, I applaud your efforts and your perseverance at finding a good agent. Don’t give up. So many authors have hundreds and hundreds of rejections before they are ‘found.’ Cheers!

  6. Russ. I love your stories, so keep writing. I, too have made the decision to self-publish my next three 2017 books, but then I intend to approach traditional publishers in the hopes of getting picked up for the rest of the series. I felt I needed to have some books “under my belt” before making an attempt. Even if I don’t find an publisher, I’m enjoying this journey and agree with you, I love holding those books in my hand. Thanks for putting this out there as it is something we self-published authors think about often.

  7. lorrs33 says:

    Good for you. I got a rejection letter from a literary magazine the other day and it crushed me. I just can’t bring myself to open myself to more of it.

    • russtowne says:

      I’m sorry to hear about the rejection and its painful impact on you. The good news is that self-publishing has become a viable alternative for many authors and completely avoids the submission, rejection, dejection, cycle. Whatever you decide going forward, I hope your creations achieve an ever-growing fanbase.

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