Well, it's finally happened: after over thirty years of answering every query letter that has ever come my way, I've been forced to finally acknowledge that a new era is upon us all. Before the arrival of e-mail submissions, I used to receive perhaps one hundred queries a week. That was a lot of queries but it wasn't frankly unmanageable. The XXX Agency now receives more than twice that on a daily basis and it's becoming impossible to attend to much of anything else! I'm so sorry for the impersonal response, I hate to do this.And I hate to be the receiver of said rejection, but my skin is getting thicker, so let's move on to the topic at hand. The chances of getting noticed by an agent and then subsequently landing a publishing deal are extremely miniscule. If I actually did the math (hey, I'm a writer), I'd probably conclude that betting on horses is more lucrative. After doing a quick calculation in my head over my coffee this morning, I feel honored that I even get rejection emails. Two-hundred queries a day, equals 1,000 emails a week (1,400 if you count weekends). If an agent spends two minutes on each query (muy generous), that comes to (wait for the calculator), 33-46 hours of reading queries and writing rejections. (Hey, I did the math.) When do they have time to do much of anything else?
From blogs and Q&As online, I've read that many agents hand-pick perhaps five to six projects a year to champion. Chicken scratch. And of those, a good number of those won't see a contract. Doesn't make a writer feel too great about the prospects of publication the old-fashioned way.
I have come to appreciate rejection emails. More often than not, I just don't hear anything. After six months, no response means no. The up side is I've only stuck a toe in the query bathwater. It is tepid, but my tally still fits on one page. Ho-hum.
I've had more success in contests, and I don't submit to many contests. The odds are better. Fewer submissions, greater chance to earn recognition. Even if I don't win, someone may actually read my manuscript and comment. Comments are invaluable. I'm elated that my book has made the cut to the top 400 romances in the Amazon Breakthrough Novel Contest this year. I can always wear the button: ABNA, I Advanced! And as a dear friend reminded me, I couldn't have entered had I not written a book in the first place.