Monday, January 17, 2011

I'm Doing Something Wrong

My stats with agents are pretty low. 40 rejections, only two requests. I already suspected I was doing something wrong, but then another author emailed me and said, “To be blunt, if you're getting such a low request rate, your query still needs work.” At least he's honest.

I feel stupid, because I know one mistake I made: everyone says to send your queries in batches of no more than ten at a time. If you don’t get any responses, you’re supposed to rework your material before sending another batch.

But I didn’t think anything needed to be reworked. I’ve already had people help me with my query and my first chapters, and I thought they were perfect.

So I sent out all my queries at once. I modified each one to fit the agent, of course. I just didn’t see the point in waiting. I keep saying that we can never see our own flaws and we should always be open to criticism and improvement, but I haven't practiced what I preach.

Now what?

It’s most likely a problem with the query, but it could also be a problem with whom I submit to, how I submit, or worst of all, the story itself. While I’m willing to accept that all of that can be approved on, I don’t understand how any of it could be so wrong that literally no one is interested in me.

This has certainly been humbling.

I’m going to get more writers to critique my query – as many people as humanly possible – and try again. Unfortunately, I’ve already sent my query to so many agents, I’m afraid I might not be able to find anyone else to send it to. Almost all of my favorite agents have already said no.
Teralyn Rose Pilgrim


  1. By the way, I want to give a general, overall thank you to the people who are posting fascinating comments and making things more interesting for everybody. I love hearing all your ideas.

  2. Elana Johnson queried over 200 agents before finding "The One". And after she signed with her agent, she sold the story pretty dang fast.

    Definitely listen to your gut about whether or not the query is ready for prime-time, but remember that you don't know who your dream agent is yet. Your dream agent is the one who falls so gobsmackingly in love with your manuscript that they're willing to spend hours upon hours upon hours upon hours of their life championing it.

    I am ***by no means*** a query expert, but I'd be happy to look it over for you.

  3. You're so sweet! It's good to hear some encouragement, and then to take a deeeep breath.

    You can see my most recent query draft by clicking on "Sacred Fire" in the upper right hand corner of this page and then scrolling to the bottom. I'm going to post my query progress for the next few Mondays, so you can read them then.

  4. You said you'll ask people to read over your query before you send it, but have any of those people actually read your story? You might have been at it so long and need an outsider's opinion. You should ask a friend to read your manuscript and have them write down the most fascinating parts and what struck them as important. You could probably ask a few people to do that and what ever all their responses have in common, you know to put in a query letter.

    I, like Karen Akins, don't know squat about query letters except what I pick up from Queryshark. Maybe what you need is at Queryshark:
    I'm guessing you already know what it is, but I linked it, just in case.
    Good Luck.


  5. That's a brilliant idea! I'm planning on getting some more beta readers (which I will talk about in a later post), so I can ask them to help.

    I've already submitted to Query Shark, but they didn't post my query, since they can only post so many. It's a great resource for reading other queries, but not the best if you want your own query read.

  6. I'm not big on promoting myself, but take a look at - you may find some resources there.


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