This is a solid question. When you set out into the land of submissions, you’re happiness level is high. Just as is the level of hope you hold in your heart and soul.
–and you know it’s coming–
–rejection will sneak into your psyche like a rat into your toilet–
Maybe in the beginning you got a bite, but now… nothing.
So what is the magic number? When do you stop?
Back in 2014 there was a Writer’s Digest posted an article titled, “Don’t Give Up Until You’ve Queries 80 Agents or More.” (that link will take you right to it)
But honestly, if you read the article, it doesn’t explain why 80+ is the way to go. Yes, it does go into a succession of analogies on what it takes to deal with queries and rejections–but not why the number is so magical that it’s plopped in the middle of the title.
My guess as to why they didn’t touch on the why is because there is no magic number. All there is, is perseverance and the knowledge that if we (as writers) keep writing and working to improve ourselves and our crafts–if we don’t chuck our MS into the nearest trash can and say, “time to give up on that dream.”–we increase our chances of actually finding an agent and succeeding.
I set out to find a magic number because I have made a list of potential agents on QueryTracker.com. (This is the site I use. If you know of a better one, please share a link.)
On QueryTracker.com I created a list of 33 agents. I’ve sent queries to 28. Of those 28 I’ve received 17 rejections–one no reply that stated after a month it was an auto-rejection–and I have 10 letters sitting out there in the land of digital inboxes. 5 other names sit on my list. Some have been there for months. Most days I stare at them.
So this is my real issue. My novel–The Trials of Imogen Grace–is speculative science fiction. I supposed in the great scheme of things that yes, there are 80+ agents out there looking for science fiction–but where? At 33 I feel like I’ve exhausted my resources. Those 5 I stare at are because they’re so boarder line when it comes to accepting Science Fiction I’m already 98% they’re rejections and I haven’t even typed out, “Dear Agent,” on a saved draft in my gmail.
Now querying has gone from a necessary step along this path of getting my books published and has been twisted into a middle school math word problem.
A trail leaves Los Angeles with you, your computer, and a query on board. It is bound for an Agent in London. Your research shows they accept science fiction. You’ve done you’re homework and are plainly excited–this may be a good fit. BUT…they like to meet in person, and that’s when you realize A TRAIN CAN’T GO TO LONDON! You forgot the Atlantic ocean!
But you’ll figure it out. You get out your trusty pencil and write out the equation: 80 – reality = ???
DON’T GET ON THE TRAIN!
In conclusion I’ve come up with my own hypothesis on how many queries is the right amount. As many as you choose to send.
I’m not crazy. (for the most part). I get how this all works and I’m trying to look for the signs, or whatever was stated in the above mention article–but at the end of the day I also learned something more: self belief.
I like my book. I really, really do. I’ve read it about 500 times and I’m sure I’ll read it even more as I edit it one…more…time.
Yes, I feel like I’ve been at this a long time–ten years is a long time. Not on this novel, but in general. But instead of my need and will slipping away, I’ve found in those ten years I’ve worked harder, learned more, been more open to improvements.
Sadly, there is no magic number–just faith in yourself and your manuscript. If you love it and believe in it, than yes–you’ll get past that 80 mark. You probably bypass 100 as well–because you, like me, want what you’ve written out there.
Now all I can do is keep trying and hope someone will believe in it as much as I do.
Never give up! Never surrender. Happy writing! xxoo-A