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How Do You Increase Your Chances Of Success When Querying Agents?

Sometimes you might send many query letters, only to realize that you get too many form rejections for no apparent reason. There are several things that authors often overlook and don’t want to consider. For example, the problem might not be in the query letter itself but with the manuscript.

Make the manuscript live up to the query letter

When you send query letters that get the attention of agents who ask for parts of your book or the full manuscript and then fail to give you any feedback, it might be time to reevaluate your manuscript. It might be one thing if two or three agents reject your work, but when the number increases to ten or more, you need to start thinking about why they don’t like the manuscript.

This is an unpopular suggestion but it is well worth considering. Some writers get two or three hundred rejections and continue to send the same manuscript. When you factor in how long it takes for each agent to respond to authors, two hundred rejections might span a period of more than two years which is a lot of time for an author. Some lucky authors receive rejections where agents specify the problem. If several agents say the same thing, the author needs to fix it because he/she has confirmation about the rejections.

If agents say that the book is too long, you should consider cutting it. If the reason for the rejections is that the story is interesting but the characters are not well developed, it’s time to reconsider your characterization. Sometimes authors feel that changing their books is 'selling out' but this is far from the truth. Agents simply want books to sell and are not interested in changing people’s books for their own personal gain.

The psychology of querying

The process of querying can be frustrating, protracted, and time consuming, even if a writer has a fantastic manuscript. When an author gets one rejection after another, she/he can easily get angry, frustrated, and desperate. No author should ever allow themselves to get to this point especially because rejections are not personal.

Unless you are a nuisance to agents and have tarnished your reputation for any reason, you should never consider rejections to be personal. In most cases, the agents who reject you can’t distinguish you from the many other authors who have queried them. Rejection only means that an agent does not want to represent your particular manuscript.

When you feel bitter about a rejection, don’t pick the same day to rewrite your query letter or do any other drastic thing. Bad moods ‘bleed through’ into your work and this puts people off. If you are not in a good mood, take time off from writing and work to regain control over your emotions. One of the main reasons why excellent authors get scammed is desperation and you should never get to that point. If you ever start to think about going to agents with bad reputations simply because you have received mostly negative feedback from reputable agents, you should stop, shut down the computer, and distract yourself with something like a movie or any other activity you enjoy doing. You will be able to think clearly afterwards.