Another submitting to agents question.

Wed, Sep 13 2017 04:26pm IST 1
Gus
Gus
114 Posts
I brought this up with a number of agents at the Festival of Writing 2017 last Sunday. One said she gets about 50-60 submissions a week, requests full copies of about 10-20 per year and takes on about 3 per year. However, at one of the workshops I asked "What proportion of submissions clearly haven't even followed the submission instructions?" and the answer was "Most of them." Later on I was taking to our 'supreme overlord' Harry Bingham, who said that the kind of people who are involved with the WW courses and events, and are active on forums like the WordCloud, are probably already in the top 20%. This was encouraging :-)
Wed, Sep 13 2017 04:52pm IST 2
Gemstar
Gemstar
32 Posts
Gosh those odds are depressing aren't they! I think I'd feel like I'd won the lottery if I got a full MS request! That's only half the battle!
Wed, Sep 13 2017 05:26pm IST 3
RichardB
RichardB
1140 Posts
As Debi will tell you, the success rate for unsolicited submissions, industry-wide, is about 0.01%. For those who've done the Self-Editing course she runs with EmmaD, it's about 16%. There's a moral in there...

Thing is, you can get your submission just right, do the courses and events, tick all the boxes, and still there's no guarantee of success. You can write beautifully and still get rejected if there's no perceived market for your book. Or if your MS doesn't land on the right desk at the right time.

Okay, I'm being pessimistic. Comes from being in the throes of submission and being savaged by the Doubt Demons.
Wed, Sep 13 2017 05:48pm IST 4
EmmaD
EmmaD
3382 Posts
This starts as a (very, very funny) look at the relationship between what rejections say, and how some aspiring writers construe them.

But if you scroll down to point 3, The Context of Rejection, there's a good list of how a slushpile breaks down. And anyone who's spent a little time gathering Cloudy advice is, as Harry says, already in the top 25% or so:

Wed, Sep 13 2017 06:55pm IST 5
Willow
Willow
121 Posts
Yes the odds are very depressing. I'm at the same stage Richard and also at the mercy of the doubt demons. I think we write in a similar genre. Have you had any responses yet? I've submitted to 10 agents 3-5 weeks ago and not had one response yet. Although the other day I did get a personal rejection for something I submitted back in January!
Wed, Sep 13 2017 08:41pm IST 6
RichardB
RichardB
1140 Posts
When I said 'in the throes' I meant just that: I've only just started and haven't finished sending them out. So I'm not expecting any replies for a while.

Not hearing anything for 3-5 weeks is par for the course, Willow. One of the agencies I've sent to says in the submission guidelines that you should assume you've been rejected if you've heard nothing for 16 bloody weeks. The adjective is mine. 16 weeks? If I bit my nails I'd have gnawed them right off by then.
Fri, Sep 15 2017 02:19pm IST 7
Willow
Willow
121 Posts
Same with some of the ones I've submitted to - 16 weeks!! I sent all of my submissions out at once - now I'm not sure if they read and respond straight away, or like in the article above which Emma posted, they put all of the rejected off until they, or their assistant, has a spare afternoon to send a mass of rejection emails! I'd just rather know sooner rather than later. Patience has never been one of my strong points. Good luck everyone with the submissions - hopefully we will all get that elusive offer of representation one day :)
Sat, Sep 16 2017 11:24am IST 8
Penworthy
Penworthy
12 Posts

Hello, Willow. I hope you're not just waiting for an answer to one agent. It's in any writer's interests to submit to more than one agent at a time. Sometimes they might hang on to something to pretend to be doing more, before they send a rejetion . You could have been using that time elsewhere. I speak from bitter experience.

Anyway, I hope it's good news for you soon.

Sat, Sep 16 2017 01:22pm IST 9
EmmaD
EmmaD
3382 Posts
Reading the slushpile is one of the routine chores of agenting: unquestionably necessary, mostly boring (because of the first 75% as described in that slushkiller post), but always threaded through with pleasure because it's a humble part of your beloved job.

Imagine the full range of the keen cook's responses to Doing The Washing Up:

Some wash up every utensil as soon as they've used it, and the plates from each course before they put the next course on the table.

Some wait until there are no clean plates left in the cupboard and no worktop left to cook on, and then put the radio on and do the lot.

Some have a dishwasher-loader - otherwise known as their assistant - who sorts it all out, deals with most of it, but hands over the precious teapot for hand-washing.

And all of these will be inflected or diverted by the rest of the job, plus a hovering uncertainty about whether this slightly cracked but rather lovely vase can be mended, which leaves it marooned on the side for ages, neither washed nor binned, and what to do about that hideous pot that you were given by your mother-in-law, which you can't bin till you've thought up a story about how it got broken...

You've no way of knowing which the agent you're subbing to will be, so there's no point in trying to read anything into how long it takes, except that ... it takes how long it takes. It's not personal, and it's certainly not a judgement on your writing.
Sat, Sep 16 2017 01:26pm IST 10
EmmaD
EmmaD
3382 Posts
The hideous pot, by the way, is NOT any Cloudy's manuscript, but the one that their brother's wife has written ...
Sat, Sep 16 2017 01:32pm IST 11
Willow
Willow
121 Posts
Thanks Pen, no definitely not waiting on 1 agent, I've submitted to 10 so far.

And thanks Emma, that's a very helpful analogy.


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