How many rejection's before you hang up the towel?

So, in preparation for the future (and after receiving my first rejection from an agent query letter) I'm curious to everyone's thoughts on the subject.  Do you go for another revision of your novel, or do you pass right to direct publishing?  With great horror I'll ask-or do you just move on to writing another book?

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It's up to you.

You should probably move on to writing another book regardless (books sell books after all).

I spent about 3 years trying to market my novel before I went the self-publishing route. I was getting favorable reads but couldn't get anyone to buy it. (Probably due to the down economy at the time)

There are many famous stories of great books which were rejected by many people before it was picked up by a publisher.  So one rejection you should not get you down.  Personally I would not rewrite the book based on one rejection, unless there were some really good suggestions. If it was just a form letter, send it back out again.

Always remember Robert A. Heinlein's Rules for Writing.

If you decide to go the independent publishing route I would strong suggest that you do get the work professionally edited before release. 

When I wrote my first book, I read part of it to a critique group. I knew I had a lot of work to do and a lot to learn. I wrote the second book and spent years polishing and receiving rejections. I wrote a third and kept pushing. The second and third books were finally published first. Then I resurrected the first manuscript and rewrote it from page 1. You're going to get lucky and get published almost immediately, or you're going to spend time (maybe years) receiving rejections. But if you're really serious about getting published, keep writing good stories and somebody will eventually notice.

You have to listen to your gut feeling.  If you feel that you can't deal with the rejection, and it makes you want to stop writing, then maybe that's the way to go.  However, if you write because you feel an overwhelming need to create and tell a story, you must keep writing.  Try self-publishing and see where it takes you.  It might be very disappointing, or it could be the best thing that happens to your work.


Good heavens, one rejection? Being a writer, artist, actor, musician, etc. generally requires that we develop a thick skin and great determination--unless you're really, really lucky. Keep sending it out, only not just to agents, but to publishers that accept queries. 

You can self-publish and continue sending out queries. Smashwords has a list of editors and formatters for authors taking the indie route. And Smashwords can get your book in many retail outlets such as Barnes & Noble, Kobo, Apple, Sony, Diesel. You can upload your book to Amazon separately. (Amazon and Smashwords don't seem to do business together well.) 

Don't give up. You have options. And yes, absolutely, write that next book.

If an author thinks he/she is too old to continue the submitting game, self-publishing is a choice. Otherwise, IMO, each rejection is one more step closer to being accepted by an agent /publisher. :-)

We edited our socks off, proofread, revised a lot of times before the first query letter. We researched agents and publishers,sites that instructed how to format a query letter, sent out 25 query letters, and sent the entire manuscript, 500 double-spaced pages to a publisher. The query letters were sent to genre-specific agents to minimize futility. Most of the agents responded that the book was good, but they did not want to represent it. The publisher, one of the biggest, said that in uncertain times in the industry, they didn't want to invest in a new author. So....we checked out all the e-book publishing sites, and settled on It has just been listed there this month, and we are now busy posting it all over the internet to generate sales. Angela just created a "Fantastic Vampires" youtube video to see what that does. It has had some views, so we are encouraged.  I hope this helps.


All good questions. I think you have to ask yourself another one: Do you believe in your book? If you answered "yes" to that question, do not give up!

I could paper a room with the many rejections I've gotten over the years. The important thing to remember is that all it takes is one acceptance. And, you'll never get it if you give up.

I too started out by querying agents because I knew that none of the BIG publishers would look at my manuscript unless I had an agent. That cost me a lot of time and frustration. What I failed to realize was that there are so many small/medium publishers out there who are publishing new novels every day and you don't need an agent to find one. I began to query them and it wasn't long before my first mystery novel, Mixed Messages, found a home. I'm thrilled to tell you that the sequel, Unfinished Business, was published last month.

Sometimes, it's all about knowing how to go about things. I hope this helps.

When initially I posted this question my expectations for a simple response were unpromising but I need to say (because I do believe it's not said enough) the BB members are exceptional.  Thank you for your words of encouragement as well as solid advice.  -KW

Youth is a blunder; Manhood a struggle, Old Age a regret. 
Benjamin Disraeli 


One thing I'd like to add. While you're researching possible markets and submitting your first book, you should get busy on the second book. That's what I did and, boy, am I ever glad! I had read that, once a debut novel is published, the publisher may want to see a second novel within 6-9 months.

So, while I was sending queries out for Mixed Messages, I wrote the sequel, Unfinished Business, and it was released 7 months after Mixed Messages was published. If I hadn't already finished it, that never could've happened. I'm Patricia Gligor, not James Patterson!

Happy Writing!

Do. Not. Stop. Keep querying and writing your next book. You have a ways to go in querying agents before you think of giving up and going direct publishing. Unless you feel direct publishing is the right fit for you in the long run.


Here's my story:  In a 4 year period (after I published my first romance novel), I queried over 500 times on 3 different books (and 2 versions of one of those books). I got tired of querying agents, so I started submitting to publishers on my own. When I thought I'd get nowhere and began to rethink my publishing goals, I got an offer to publish my 2nd romance novel by an up and coming new romance publisher. 4 months later, I got a traditional print publishing offer for my YA debut novel, which landed me an agent. Never give up, never surrender. It will happen to you.


I wouldn't revise the novel you're querying unless you receive solid feedback that you believe in and think will make your novel stronger.




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