Unattractive but Understandable Boasting

So, this last week, I got the following e-mail from an agent:

“Sorry for the delay in responding to your query. This novel doesn’t look like it’s for me, but good luck with your writing.”

A pretty standard, polite, inoffensive reply. The second most popular kind after No Response Means No.

Why is this both amusing and annoying?

Because I sent the query eleven months ago.

I had forgotten that I was still querying in April of last year. That’s around the time that I decided to go ahead with self-publishing. Apparently, I was still sending off a few queries for Book #2, on the off chance that someone would love it and call me the same day to beg for the file of the whole novel. In the year since, I’ve had Books 1 and 2 professionally edited, done cover design, indie published Book 1 … and, this week, I was preparing finally to upload for indie publishing Book 2. The same week I got the reply to this query.

A delay of almost a year before a reply isn’t actually that unusual in traditional publishing? I guess? It wouldn’t seem very insulting except that, for me as for many people, this past year has seemed much longer. The idea that I could still be sitting by my laptop, waiting for replies to queries, is kind of sad.

Now, my book sales aren’t anything to boast about yet. On the other hand, because I took action instead of waiting on agents, I can now say the phrase “my book sales.” And that’s priceless.

18 thoughts on “Unattractive but Understandable Boasting

  1. The “speed” of traditional publishing was what finally convinced me to pursue indie publishing. I felt like it could be a few years before I found an agent, who could then have it on sub for a few years. Then, if a publisher actually went for it, it could take a few years to release… It seemed like if I was lucky, readers might see something resembling what I’d written in 5 years. I just didn’t want to wait that long! I’m impatient!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yeah, I feel you. The pandemic was what finally pushed me over, but it didn’t help that I’d heard it wasn’t uncommon for some people to query for TEN YEARS before getting an agent (!). It’s like, imagine all the books I could be writing in that time!

      Another factor was that many publishers and agents, when you apply, expect you to explain how YOU are going to market your book. If they expect me to do all the marketing anyway, I might as well publish and market it myself.

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Oh, I’ve got nothing against literary agents. They get gazillions of queries, and have to reject most of them, and that’s not the fun part of their job. Many of them just say, “we’ll get in touch if we’re interested,” which is understandable considering some authors will get defensive and argue if they receive a personal rejection e-mail.

      I’ve received probably almost 200 rejections if we are counting No Replies. I know it’s part of the job (or, the job I USED to do). It only really stings when the agent had a “looking for” list that seemed to describe my book exactly. One reason I decided to quit querying was I could no longer stand to read agency websites that sounded like they’d be a perfect fit, and get my hopes up.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Agreed in all points; when I hear people discussing the contents of a rejection email, my impulse is to suggest they find something else to do. As you say, it’s a mistake to make the process personal.

        I prefer to think about finding a well placed champion for good work; the one person who’ll get it and is able to move it forward. In the UK, agents are really just seen as flies making money off the deal…

        Liked by 1 person

        1. Yeah, that would have been nice. But I completely understand why no agent emerged as my champion. Their plates are just too full. In my case, I was fortunate to find an editor who really gets what I am trying to do. That was balm to my soul after a couple of years of querying.

          Liked by 1 person

    1. Depends what you are waiting on and what’s the norm in the industry. Most agents who do reply try to do so within 8 – 12 weeks, but I know it’s been a crazy year for everyone, especially New York, where many agents live.


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