Looking back, and ahead
One year ago tomorrow, I began querying literary agents in the hopes of getting my book published. So I thought it would be good to sit down and assess where I am on this journey. It was not easy to do, because the fact of the matter is, I am nowhere. Here are the stats:
- Number of agents queried - 60
- Rejections received - 33
- Agents who did not respond - 22
- Agents who requested my book proposal - 5
- Offers of representation - 0
Sure, we've all read stories of the authors who received hundreds of rejections before getting published. I love those stories. There are a number of reasons why I have not reached out to hundreds of agents:
- I have only queried female agents. Given the subject matter of my book, I believe a female agent would be the best advocate for it.
- I have only queried agents who specifically state they are looking for books in my genre/subject. This is an important part of the query process many writers do not seem to understand.
- I will only contact agents who respond to all queries, or have a stated policy that no response means no interest, with a specific time frame by which you should expect them to reply if they are.
I understand why so many agents are unable to respond to queries. They are inundated with them. They are drowning. However, I personally want to receive an answer - one way or another. I'm one of those people who likes to have closure.
Having this personal query policy (#3) greatly limits the pool of agents I have to query. It has become an acceptable industry standard for agents to simply not respond to queries. Agents don't like this any more than writers do. But that's the way it is.
Having a meaningful message that people want and/or need to hear does not matter. Being a good writer does not matter. What matters in nonfiction is that you have a NAME. The publishing industry will not give a nonfiction writer the time of day without a presence, and I don't have a big enough one to get in the door.
I knew this going in to the process. But, being the optimist that I am, I hoped having two out of three would be good enough. It's not. And it's very frustrating, because so many women have told me they want to read my book.
I am not giving up. That's not my nature. I'm not defeated. However, I am also not in the place right now I need to be to keep going. It is time to step back. Take a break. Focus on something else for a while.
I am well aware that writers have many options these days. I self-published my first book. And I have no interest in doing it again. This is a traditionally-published-or-bust proposition for me. Even so, I have not yet exhausted every possibility. There are still more agents I can query, when I feel ready.
For now, my focus is The Mom Pledge. I have the opportunity through this project to make a positive and meaningful difference. I don't need the publishing industry to do it. And who knows? If it is successful, maybe I will be able to meet that elusive third criteria.
To all those who have followed my journey and offered support, thank you! And stick around; it's not over yet. I had wished by now to have something positive to share with you. But that's just not how this story goes...