Author Topic: When should I call it quits on a project?  (Read 396 times)

Offline HoosGlen

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When should I call it quits on a project?
« on: July 25, 2022, 05:43:31 PM »
I've seen a lot of advice on staying strong and keeping at it, people pointing out that you shouldn't even think of quitting until you hit 100 rejections, and people saying they got an offer of representation after 200+. What I haven't seen is how to take getting only rejections letters. I'm at nearly 40 rejections without a single request. I've tried changing my query letter around, but without any feedback on why it's not working, it's hard to tell if the query is bad or if its the idea. I've gotten query help here, and from fiverr.

The book itself is a fantasy novel about a wizard who finds a clue to a lost treasure and goes on a quest to find the treasure. It's inspired by Chinese mythology and martial arts fiction, which I've always been worried is a mark against it. Would you guys give up on a project or rewrite the setting, or keep trying?

Offline Neil Lynch

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Re: When should I call it quits on a project?
« Reply #1 on: July 26, 2022, 01:32:20 PM »
For every successful author, there must be a thousand with broken hearts.  40 rejections, OTOH, isn't that many at all, I would say, so it's for you to decide, really - whether you give up on it / rework your query / manuscript and then query more agencies / keep on querying with the same material.

Will any agent be able to find a market for your work (ie. a publisher and then readers)?  You're the best judge, for now.  Be brutally honest, here.

Of course, if you shelve it, be sure to keep it safe.  You never know, future writing attempts might yet get your foot in the door.  In which case, your agent might then give an extremely accurate appraisal of this current work (as far as he/she is concerned oc).  And then, who knows...
« Last Edit: July 27, 2022, 04:33:12 AM by Neil Lynch »
Youtube promo video for Zen And The Art Of Saving Life On Earth (FREE novel):  https://youtu.be/gVTvVepMiCY

Or just head to: https://tinyurl.com/mr8b5dh8 to have a read of the novel / download it directly

Offline susan-louise

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Re: When should I call it quits on a project?
« Reply #2 on: July 26, 2022, 01:47:31 PM »

In addition to the query support, I'm wondering whether you've tried beta readers?  if not, it's a wonderful conduit for  honest, supportive and invaluable feedback on where  fault lines (or indeed, strengths) reside.     If, on the other hand, you have, then keep going and keep faith.  Rejection is disheartening but has nothing to do with the intrinsic literary merits of a manuscript, rather whether or not an agent feel passionately enough about it to champion  and then market  it  etc etc. Don't lose heart and don't give up.   Good luck.


Offline damdamdam

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Re: When should I call it quits on a project?
« Reply #3 on: July 26, 2022, 08:19:38 PM »
I feel you. It is such a bummer, after all the work of writing a novel and getting it as good as you can. But it sounds like your query isn't working, however great the novel night be.

I just took a quick look. Caveat, it's 3am where I am so I'm going to be quick. I agree with the other poster who said they can't clearly see the motivation and stakes. If you haven't looked at QueryShark, spend a few hours reading the example queries there, and her feedback. This should help you to sharpen your feel for how to write a query and get the stakes up high in the letter and pare it down. I did and it helped me, as it has others. Agents skim for like two seconds, so they have to see why they'd want to read the story clearly and easily - think of glancing at a movie poster, or indeed a book cover. Reading loads of those example letters should really help.

Btw, I sent 29 queries out in April, no requests. Added ONE new sentence (IIRC), high up in the pitch part of the letter, clarifying the overall emotional thrust of the book ("a friendship that changes both their lives" or similar) (previously I think I erred too far on the "showing" side) and got four requests out of the next 24 or so queries so far (many are still out). Plus one from that first batch after a nudge to say I'd had requests, which became an R, oh well.

You can improve that letter! The premise sounds interesting. Good luck!

ETA: Apologies, I see you did a second version and clarified the stakes. To me they still seem too low. Is finding the treasure the only way he thinks he can get his father's love, or something? This could mean reworking the book, but hopefully not. I'll try to take a closer look tomorrow, but in short, we have to see that the quest really matters massively to him right at the start of the pitch. Like, a loved one's life depends on it, or as close to that as possible.
« Last Edit: July 26, 2022, 08:26:23 PM by damdamdam »

Offline HoosGlen

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Re: When should I call it quits on a project?
« Reply #4 on: July 27, 2022, 07:36:09 PM »
Thank you all for the advice and encouragement. I'm never sure what isn't working, and the reminder that I need to get them to pay attention early on helped me bring the core of the story back to the forefront of the query.

Offline magryme

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Re: When should I call it quits on a project?
« Reply #5 on: July 31, 2022, 04:15:46 PM »
I'm glad I found this thread because I'm right there with you. This business is very sparing in personalized responses so you're often left with no real idea what went wrong. What worked, what didn't, is it you, is it them. And it's so hard not to take rejections personally, each one feeding your self-doubts until it feels like you're being eaten alive.

The advice and support in this thread is strong, and the only thing I feel like I can add is that the only way to really fail is to give up. That and it's hard to find a way out when you're feeling low, because you're not just fighting the problem but yourself too. Sometimes it's best to step back for a bit, clear your head. Sometimes that lets you find an angle you didn't see. (this one is also easier said than done. I'm personally one of those people whose worries follow me around, slap KICK ME signs on my back, and are basically the noisy neighbors keeping me awake at night)

I read the query you posted to the Query Review section and I agree you have a very interesting story. I hope the suggestions you were given have been helpful.