These numbers will tell you why you should make a pact with yourself to query at least 100 agents:
35 agents did not respond. Ever.
32 agents rejected my query without further ado.
11 agents requested more material and then rejected it.
5 agents were reading it when I got a two offers of representation.
The query process for my literary novel in 2010 was a long eight months of highs and lows and more lows. Giving up was not an option. I was committed to querying 100 agents.
During that time, I received many discouraging and impersonal rejections, such as “Thanks for your submission, but we receive many more than we can possibly sell, and have to be very selective. I hope yours receives a better reception elsewhere,” and “We read your query and have come to the conclusion that it is not something we wish to pursue at this time. Best of luck with your writing career,” and this stunner, “This is an automatic response message to your query. If you do not hear further from us within 2 weeks then your project is not one that we are seeking to represent at this time.” One agent wrote that number of queries they receive has grown by 100% each year for the past three years.
Just the same, I was undaunted. I sent queries out in batches, starting with a list of 30, and kept researching, adding to my list, and honing my pitch as weeks, and then months, went by. I logged all my queries and the agents’ comments, always looking for ways to improve the manuscript and the query.
After seven months, just one agent was reading the mss. Still determined, I sent out six more queries. The timing was right: Five agents asked for more material. Then, a month later, I got a phone message from Chelsea Gilmore of Maria Carvainis Agency, Inc.
I was delighted when Chelsea offered representation, but I told her, in all fairness, I needed to contact the other agents who were reading the ms. Later that same day, she and Maria asked for a conference call in which they told me so many wonderful things about my manuscript that I had to write them down, afraid that I’d get off the phone and doubt all the praise I’d heard.
One of the other agents also wanted to represent me, so I took a few days to think it over. I emailed authors represented by both agents to ask about their experiences. Both had good references. It was difficult to chose, but I decided to go with Chelsea. It felt right – that’s about all I can say.
After all the angst, rejections, and rewrites, it was incredibly rewarding.
So, if you’re querying agents, and feeling discouraged, please don’t quit too soon. Keep at it. In this business, one-hundred queries is not too many.
Linda K. Sienkiewicz is the award-winning author of the critically acclaimed novel In the Context of Love, adult contemporary fiction about love, lust, and family secrets.
2016 ERIC HOFFER BOOK AWARD FINALIST
2016 READER’S FAVORITE FINALIST
2016 USA BOOK NEWS “BEST BOOK” FINALIST
Angelica Schirrick had always suspected there was something deeply disturbing about her family, but the truth was more than she bargained for.
“Linda K. Sienkiewicz’s powerful and richly detailed debut novel is at once a love story, a cautionary tale, and an inspirational journey.” ~ Bonnie Jo Campbell, author of National Book Award Finalist, American Salvage, and critically acclaimed Once Upon a River, and Mothers, Tell Your Daughters