Friday, March 30, 2012

What Do You Do If Your Book Has Been Rejected By Everyone?

I love this question. What happens if you have sent your project to every editor out there and, unfortunately, everyone has said no?

First of all, I have to say to not give up. It is not the end of the world and sometimes the story and the market are just not working in alignment with one another. But in terms of the project, what now?

The self-publishing companies out there have really been feeding off of authors in situations like this. Yes, I am using the term "feeding off of authors" for a reason. Many of these companies have created this image that the stories have been rejected due to the unwillingness of the publishers to work with "creative" stories. As we have talked about here on the blog, that is not always the situation. In any case, sending it to an self-publisher just to "get it out there" might not be the best approach to take.

As an agent, I always recommend just putting the book aside and work with something new. In many cases, you might have a second or third project that really hits the mark with an editor and you are off and running. When this happens, a lot of times they might be willing to go back and look at a project that didn't work earlier. I had an author with me that we struggled with her regency selling. We decided mutually to put it aside. Eventually, and again mutually, we decided the author agent relationship wasn't working well so she moved on. The second editor was able to work that book into a deal for something else with an editor that passed on it once before. Had that person sold the book, it would have been "off the market." Yes, I know many of you scream, "but I own the rights" and that might be true, but the story has already gotten out there. The odds are the editor might not pick it up now.

On a second level, it is always good to think about whether that story really is "your best work". Sure, you got your writing out there, but is that the image you want your readers to see of your writing? Is it really your best.

The point is, don't rush and don't panic. Sometimes the story doesn't work. Bummer. Sometimes it is the wrong time - there may be a better time. Just remember to think before you leap.



  1. After entering a contest to win a 1 book contract and not being the grand prize winner or one of the 5 finalists - this post, especially the second to last sentence, put things in perspective.


  2. Oh my. This is so timely. I have queried 121 agents and have had requests for partials, some agents who may still respond, but really? I even got rejected by the gracious Scott Eagan. I have decided to move on. I may look in to self-publishing my first novel, and maybe the agent who is reading pages now will want it, but I'm not holding my breath. Thanks for the post!

  3. I'm not sure why you are referring to "self-publishing companies" instead of just self-publishing (as typically we do this on our own hence the term self, others I suppose, would be indies) but after a series of rejections I did chose to self-publish and have been pleasantly surprised. The problem I had was the lack of ANY feedback from an agent. At least this way, by putting it out under a pen name I have the ability to finally get the feedback I was looking for all along. This opens me up to so many other options for the other books in my "drawer."