Author Topic: A little quiet ain't it?  (Read 1230 times)

Offline jonny_555

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A little quiet ain't it?
« on: June 29, 2021, 01:00:25 PM »
Hey gang!

Been a while :)

Been busy with the new book and almost finished the final edit so I have tried to leave querying/agents and all that stuff aside as much as possible. Won't lie - it has been quite refreshing being out of the query pit! Well, sort of out of it.

I popped back on here as I was curious to see how fellow quering authors have been finding responses from agents in the last few months. As I was still querying my previous book despite giving up, I found that instead of rejections I am only getting silence now. Like literally. Out of the 40 queries I sent since April, I only had one rejection. The rest is silence. Even the queries sent through QM are just sitting there - one from Jan even. I thought QM is a tool for agents to better manage queries? From Jan to now would be a heck of a backlog in the case of that one agent.

Prior to this, I would get (only) rejections at least.
 
Anyone seeing the same?

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Offline jcwrites

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Re: A little quiet ain't it?
« Reply #1 on: June 29, 2021, 01:23:18 PM »
Same here. Over half of my queries get nothing but crickets.

The day I give my acceptance speech for the Nobel Prize for Literature, I'm gonna read a list naming every agent who didn't give the time of day. That'll show 'em. I betcha.

Offline Sandbox

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Re: A little quiet ain't it?
« Reply #2 on: June 29, 2021, 02:09:38 PM »
Oh yes. It has been a while (years) since I've jumped on the query wagon but this feels very different. Lots of silence. Looking at the premium stats it seems as if some agents
aren't even looking at them. Could be me (query, pages) of course--but I don't know.

Offline slcody

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Re: A little quiet ain't it?
« Reply #3 on: June 29, 2021, 02:47:20 PM »
Good to hear it's not just me! When I queried last year, my replies broke down to about 25% partial/full requests, 25% explicit rejections, and 50% silence. This year, querying the same (but much improved) novel with a similar (though also improved) query letter, I've had about 10% partial/full requests, 10% explicit rejections, and 80% silence. I still have two fulls out to agents -- but one of those was requested late last year, for which I sent my revision a few months ago; the other was a direct referral from a friend of mine to his agent.

Most of the feedback I've received from all of the passes on my ms. has been useful and often quite complimentary. My novel is literary historical fiction -- but it's pretty firmly in the "quiet," voice-driven, slightly experimental side of literary. Reading between the lines of my feedback (and a couple of agents have said this more or less directly), the "problem" is that it's just not particularly commercial, especially as a debut author. So for me, I think I'm starting to wrap up my agent quest for this novel and will start to focus on independent presses that publish similar work. (Unfortunately, a number of them closed to submissions last year during the pandemic.)

In the meantime, I've started work on a new novel that I think is probably more appealing from a commercial standpoint, so who knows -- maybe I'll get an agent for that one!

Offline StephanieB

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Re: A little quiet ain't it?
« Reply #4 on: June 29, 2021, 09:20:06 PM »
I’ve brought my novel back to the querying game after a 10-year hiatus (last time I was in high school, so I’m hoping I’ve got a better shot this time, lol.) So far I’ve pitched about 30 agents and gotten 11 rejections. Some of those queries have only been sent out in the past couple of weeks, so it hasn’t been too long yet. It’s so hard to know if they even read past the query, since all I’ve gotten so far are form rejections.

That’s a bummer about hearing so much silence, though. Best of luck to you and hopefully you start getting some requests soon!

Offline AVA_writing

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Re: A little quiet ain't it?
« Reply #5 on: June 30, 2021, 08:30:41 AM »
I am with you. It is quiet. I have not gotten a reply to any query (rejection or otherwise) that I sent in May or June. I have a partial I sent out in late April and have not heard back on it either.  I am going to pause, take a course or two, revamp my manuscript and start again after Labor Day. Good luck!

Offline LeahClifford

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Re: A little quiet ain't it?
« Reply #6 on: June 30, 2021, 08:33:54 AM »
It's summer, so publishing slows WAY down. I would assume the lowered income from the pandemic shutdown is also cutting into the publisher's ability to buy projects. Books take around 1-1.5 years to come out after purchase, which means the publishers are now missing that income and not able to pick up as many new projects, which means agents are less likely to respond/sign new clients right now whose work they can't sell. Hang in there. It'll pass.
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Offline LeahClifford

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Re: A little quiet ain't it?
« Reply #7 on: July 01, 2021, 10:34:25 AM »
A Touch Mortal
A Touch Morbid
A Touch Menacing
Vial Things
Something Grave (coming out 9/7/21!)

Offline jonny_555

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Re: A little quiet ain't it?
« Reply #8 on: July 01, 2021, 01:24:53 PM »
Thanks for all the responses :)

Not to say I’m "glad" that so many are seeing the same, but glad it's nothing personal at least. That being said, I did get a rejection this morning from a query I sent in Feb yay! 
@LeahClifford, thanks for sharing that Q&A. Very insightful and heartfelt glance behind the curtain. It's worrying for both sides . . . I guess nobody knows how long it will be until things stabilize again.
« Last Edit: July 02, 2021, 01:19:23 AM by jonny_555 »
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Offline Tabris

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Re: A little quiet ain't it?
« Reply #9 on: July 01, 2021, 07:24:57 PM »
Found this today and thought of this thread:

https://literaticat.tumblr.com/post/655517458658181120/youre-the-best-can-i-ask-you-why-are-responses

The opening of that annoyed me. Someone asked her a legitimate question ("Why are responses so slow?") and she acted as if it was the most offensive question she could have heard.

"I’m going to be as calm as I possibly can be because I know this is probably a sincerely meant question"

Excuse me, yes, it was a sincerely meant question from someone who is new to the field. Also not necessary was that snap at her, "You haven't seen the year-plus worth of discourse," as if it's her fault she hasn't followed ninety agents on twitter and heard them all discussing the upheaval caused by the pandemic. For a new writer who hasn't been immersed in the professional side of the publishing world, they're going to see that McDonalds has opened back up, and vacations are happening, and the mall is open again, and people aren't wearing masks--so to them, everything is caught up. No need to treat the question like an offense.

Better answer: "Everything went into chaos last year, and an already-slow system got twice as slow because in addition to doing this year's work, we're also doing most of last year's work. It's a pain, and everyone's suffering. Please afford everyone in publishing a little grace--editors, agents, and writers alike."

Offline Sandbox

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Re: A little quiet ain't it?
« Reply #10 on: July 02, 2021, 11:11:24 AM »
Agree with Tabris--we are all just annoying little gnats! :)
« Last Edit: July 03, 2021, 08:37:00 AM by Sandbox »

Offline jonny_555

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Re: A little quiet ain't it?
« Reply #11 on: July 03, 2021, 07:10:50 AM »
So given that lowdown into the pub industry, what do querying authors do at the moment? Do we wait this out (and for how long) or do we continue as we would normally with sending queries to agents?
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Offline Tabris

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Re: A little quiet ain't it?
« Reply #12 on: July 03, 2021, 08:07:51 AM »
So given that lowdown into the pub industry, what do querying authors do at the moment? Do we wait this out (and for how long) or do we continue as we would normally with sending queries to agents?

Proceed as normal and assume everything will take about 40% longer than usual. Give a little grace to agents who may be overwhelmed and playing catch-up. Be supportive of your fellow writers who are stuck in the logjam with you. Work on your craft.

Also, keep in mind that many agents may NOT be in a logjam right now, but they're being quieter about it because they don't want to detract from other agents' genuine struggles. Many agents may have found a way to redirect their time and effort to stay on top of things, or they may not have had kids while working from home, or their clients may have been blessed by the stars and not had all their projects delayed. You may end up querying one of those agents and get a fastpass ticket to the top of the water slide.

Offline skribbler

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Re: A little quiet ain't it?
« Reply #13 on: July 08, 2021, 08:55:08 AM »
https://literaticat.tumblr.com/post/655517458658181120/youre-the-best-can-i-ask-you-why-are-responses

I loved this, and loved Jennifer Laughran’s inability to quite hold it together in her reply.

I’m in the publishing industry myself and can attest to everything she said, and frankly, we should all be able to attest to most of what she said. I broke up with my agent in early 2020—the last e-mail I have between us is March 13, the first day I worked from home. I’ve got a book that’s probably dead in the water now, am depressed as hell about it while I look for a new agent for a new book I’m only maybe a third done with (so I shouldn’t even be looking, should just be writing), and am trying to sell short stories here and there just to keeps my spirits up.

I’ve gotten a response from precisely one of the eight agents I’ve submitted to in the last four months, and that agent, who said she’d be glad to look at the partial I sent, has been silent since. It’s frustrating as hell. But I do get it. And am just trying to balance on the still center while I wait, and remember that the world doesn’t need my (tremendously amazing, by the way) novel nearly as much as it needs to be at least 70% vaccinated, and have people get serious about climate change and gross inequity.

We should still be querying, we should still be nudging, etc. But that piece was a valuable reality check all the same.

Offline JeanneG

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Re: A little quiet ain't it?
« Reply #14 on: July 08, 2021, 11:17:49 AM »
In January 2020, I returned from a writer's workshop/conference with tons of good feedback that made me eager to dig into my revisions on my WIP. Then, I got sick with Covid. By the time I was strong enough to go back to work on the book, our lives had been turned upside down, and I made the conscious decision to take my time with my revisions. Originally, my goal had been to start querying the book in the spring of 2020. Covid brought that to a halt.

I'm almost finished with revisions now, but I'm no longer in a hurry to start querying again. I've spent this time digging deep into the book, cutting the word count, tightening the prose, increasing the tension, etc., and it's a much better story than I had in 2020. I've also attended a couple of agent workshops where I got detailed feedback on my query, which was extremely helpful. And I picked up a couple of nice awards for the novel-in-progress.

By the time, I enter the query trenches in the fall, I feel the stars may be better aligned: Agents and publishers will be catching up on their backlog. I will know a lot more about how to pitch my book and present it in its best light. I will know more about the right agents to target. And I will have a really polished book to present.

In one of those agent workshops, an agent said something that really stuck with me: "There are a lot of books out there that are good enough, but you need a great book to break through the competition."

I didn't do nearly this level of preparation for my first novel, which was rejected by over 100 agents before it found a home with a small press. The book went on to win quite a few awards, but not before I revised it three more times for the publisher. I've learned a lot since then.

Patience and persistence matter.

JeanneG
« Last Edit: July 08, 2021, 11:20:35 AM by JeanneG »
Debut novel, BLOOD OF A STONE (Tuscany Press) released in March 2015; winner of IPPY in national category of religious fiction and currently a finalist for IAN Book of the Year. My work-in-progress: THE DOUBLE SUN.
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