Can You Ever Please A Literary Agent?

I’m an Indie author and I published my book in February 2014. Before publishing, I tried to pitch many literary agents but unfortunately faced the rejections because (obviously) no one cares for an unknown author. I was advised that I should self-publish, get some reviews and accolades and then come back again with another query letter.

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So, I accepted the criticism as their wisdom words and published through an Independent Publisher―a lot of cost was also involved. Of course, nothing comes free. Writing and publishing a book is a tedious business, which requires lots of effort, unwavering dedication and money.

Success grabbed my hand and I kept winning awards and recognition one after another, receiving five star reviews by the readers and appreciative feedback from some editorial critics. I kept sending query letters to the agents meanwhile I received nothing but rejection. I’ve even lost the count now.

rejection-letter

Then, I read some blogs where authors have discussed: you need to work on the query letter. Again, I took this advice and worked on my query letter―thought maybe my query letter is not good enough. I hired professionals who helped me make query letters. I got a few responses, the positive ones from agents and they asked me to send first few chapters and detailed synopsis.

Again, after three months of waiting, I’m still let down by the agents. I don’t care how much money I’d earn after selling my booksall I want my book is to be available in every bookstorebroadening my readership. And this won’t be possible without coming under the umbrella of a large publishing house, which is not possible without pleasing an agent?

So how do you do that? Honestlyno answer.

They read your first three chapters and decide the book is not good enough for the mass market. I’ve read some crappy books becoming NYT bestsellers―whose initial chapters have not gained my attention (as a reader) and their reviews are also not worth discussing. I don’t know exactly what intrigues the agent. Is it the writing style, the story, the character depth―I don’t know. I’ve seen books with skyrocketing sales that have no plot, no depth in the characters and a very predictable story-line with abundant amount of sex scenes―that sound ridiculously impossible in reality. Sex in elevator, on kitchen counter, over office deskreally? I want to meet those couples in real life.

So I thought maybe I have issues with my story. It doesn’t matter if it has more than fifty five-star reviews or seven awardsmaybe the story is not fit for the mass market. For the test, I uploaded my book for free on Wattpad to see how readers take my story. The response was unbelievable. Within two months, more than hundred thousand subscribers read my book, liked it, voted it and purchased the second book of the series from either Amazon, B&N, Smashwords or Kobo. My sales increased―my readership increased. Still, everyday I receive messages through Wattpad how amazing the book is, people begging me to upload the second book of the series since, in some countries, the ebook is not available and it is not available in their bookstores where they could just go and buy it.

That is why I wanted to publish through a large publishing house―making it available for the readers, bringing my story on the shelves of all bookstores. I know…not everyone carries a tablet or e-reader. There are people on this planet who still like to feel the book and prefer a paperback.

Interestingly, I still receive rejections after tremendous support and positive feedback of my readers. First agents say: you need to get reviews and recognition (which is not possible without publishing a book) and then they say…oh! we see you’ve already published it. Come back later with a new unpublished manuscript. (Huh! What a nice approach to reject!) And it seems like a recursive process.

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Apparently, one of the agents told me that despite being good reviews, they want to see if I’ve good sales as well. It made me chuckle when they said they’d only pick my book if the Amazon sales is at least 50K per year. Really? If I were making this much amount of money from my one book, why would I need an agent to take all my book rights and give me only 2% of the sale?

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And all they say is: it just needs one agent to like your book. So, I’m waiting for the right agent to like it. If you’re writing a book or planning to query the agents―be prepared for rejections but don’t think your work is bad. Every author has a different voice―you can’t compare apples and oranges―likewise, you can’t compare Nora Roberts and Dan Brown.

So, just be patient, keep querying agents and hope for the best.

After all, you need only one to please!

Rejection concept.

I’m the award-winning author of A PRAYER SERIES. Find my books at http://www.samreenahsan.com/

10 thoughts on “Can You Ever Please A Literary Agent?

  1. The only way to please an agent is to be an already famous person. Writing ability has nothing to do with it. The commercial publishing industry is reeling because even after all these years, it has not adapted to the new reality of Amazon and e-books. They are only interested in publishing sure-fire hits, and the only way they feel confident in a manuscript is if it can attach to something that’s already selling well. That’s why celebrities get books published, and established authors, and copies or remakes of previous best-sellers. But something new and different? They’re afraid of taking a chance.

    Sadly, most readers just want to read the same thing over and over again. Being original is its own curse, it seems.

  2. You’re right, Scott. The irony is…the giant publishing houses are only printing same old stuff…predictable stories…pick up all recent NYT best sellers. There are hardly a few books that touch your heart.

  3. I have a couple of other friends going through this process as well, and it’s very frustrating! Every time I consider going after an agent again, I hear stories like this and I figure there’s no point. Personally, I think your book is wonderful and I don’t understand why an agent hasn’t shown more interest yet either. Hopefully you’ll find just the right person soon!

  4. I agree with the comments posted. Getting a GOOD agents is like alchemy, rarely happens and is surrounded by mystery. All I can say is I have managed to get my books on bookshop shelves by going along to them in person after numerous conversations. I believe Scott Bury is absolutely right, you can beat agents of with a stick when you are already famous. Until then good luck and if I perfect the recipe for signing one I will gladly share.

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  6. Some genuinely great data , Gladiola I open this. “If a child can’t discover the way we teach, perhaps we should teach the way they learn.” by Ignacio Estrada.

  7. Thank you so much for your insight Ms. Samreen! I also appreciate the comments that followed. It’s kind of sad that the publishing world has ended up this way. I started out as a screenwriter who aspired to present “original” scripts in a world where my teachers and fellow film students argued, “Everything that can be created has been created. There is no original works anymore.”

    Nowadays…It seems that there are original works…they just aren’t being published in the printing world or produced in Hollywood. This is truly disheartening. I get that this is a “business” but I think it goes to show how disassociated the ones calling the shots are when it comes to what the common people want. Our blockbusters are full of sequels, remakes and superhero films. The center book stands are full of followers of trends like erotica, game of thrones, and vampire stories. None of which will survive memory in fifty years.

    But that’s okay. Through our tenacity and determination we will present a new story to this audience. A new story that will last over 400 years the same as “The Three Musketeers” and Shakespeare’s classics. And when the publishers start churning out the followers of trends we started, I’ll smirk…and launch a visceral esoteric attack that will come so subtle and concealed that they won’t even realize that I’m criticizing them until they lay their heads down at night. It’ll hit them the moment they close their eyes. :D

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