What if someone told you that your chances of winning the lottery were 1 in 6,000? You don’t even have to pay cash to play! The cost of entry is simply two years of your time, part of your sanity, and oh yeah, a piece of your soul. How do you feel about the odds now?
The chances of landing a literary agent are estimated to be 1 in 6,000. The best book agents get upwards of 1,500 queries per MONTH. They will only sign a handful of clients per year. Other writers say you’re getting close when you’ve had a handful of full manuscript requests. “It just needs to get in front of the right eyes!” and “You just have to keep going!”
Agents that request are first wowed by your query letter. Then they have to love the sample pages. Then they spend the time and energy to read through the projects that they think have potential, and if you’re lucky, they give you feedback along with their pass. That is the best an author can hope for until they get the fateful email that offers representation.
I’ve had full requests on manuscripts since 2015. Does trying for 7 years still mean I’m close? Yet I still get my hopes up every time I send one off. “This is it! I’m going to be let into the promised land of publishing!” What is the deal with this ever-loving HOPE that keeps me doing this? Rationally, I know the odds. What amount of writer’s hubris do I possess that makes me think I deserve to be the one?
I shelved Hedge Dancer this week. The full manuscript was rejected (with very kind and thoughtful feedback) by a lovely agent and I’m feeling rather down about it, if you can’t tell by the previous four paragraphs in this post. I will no longer be pitching that project and it will reside in my metaphorical desk drawer until when and if I ever decide to revisit it.
I’m pouring all my energy into this next project. Word count update: I am 31,000 words in. Around 50k left to go. Then I’ll edit. And write a query letter. Then I’ll research agents. Send it out. And hope.