When You Run Out of Literary Agents

If you didn’t know, submitting to agents is the traditional way of going about publishing. It’s also the cheapest, as self-publishing can be very expensive. Agents don’t cost anything except a percentage of each book sold. (If they make you pay anything up-front, it is a SCAM.)

Anyway, I decided to go the agent route for my novel because I knew it was the most surefire way to get it on a shelf next to my favorite young adult novels. I knew getting it published by one of the big houses was what I wanted. However, that dream is feeling farther and farther away the longer it takes.

In January, I submitted my novel, In the Sky, to over 115 literary agencies. Some specialized in young adult/children’s works, some in all kinds. I did make sure that each agent I addressed my query letters to were looking for young adult books, and if I could find them, specifically ones looking for science fiction.

IG Story 1

If you aren’t aware of how the process works, it usually involves sending a gazillion emails. The main thing every agent wants is a query letter. It’s typically just a letter addressed to them explaining a tiny bit of what your work is about, as well as your background as a writer. This is just to give them an idea of if you’ll be a good fit for them. Not only if your work will be the good fit, but if you as a person will be. Agents can be lifelong partners… so it’s important to find one who truly believes in you in every aspect.

So, in my submitting journey, out of about 119 submissions, I’ve already received 38 nos. Three out of the 119 requested to read the rest of my manuscript, two said no, and one is still outstanding.

Everyone always tries to tell you that J.K. Rowling got rejected a ton of times, but when you’re in the middle of getting three rejection emails a day, it can be tough to look on that brighter side. It can be tough to deal with, especially when you believe in your story so wholeheartedly.

Agency Submissions

That being said, I realized it’s not the rejection itself that has gotten to me recently. It’s actually a result of the rejection: the diminishing number of agents left.

I’m running out of agents that specialize in young adult works. I started my list using the iconic book, Guide to Literary Agents 2019: The Most Trusted Guide to Getting Published. After that, I went to Google and made it through a ton of “best of” lists to fill in any gaps. I concluded that I pretty much had no more agencies to submit to.

IG Story 2

And now, because of that, I feel a little defeated. Sure, I can keep working through my manuscript with some of the feedback I’ve gotten from both my good friend (who I already blab about in this post) and one of the three agents who read my manuscript. I can re-submit to that one agent and to other agents at the agencies I chose, but chances are if they didn’t want it the first time, other agents at the agency probably won’t want it either. (Agencies say that if one agent passes, you can submit to another. But they also say that they will share it with other agents if they feel it’ll be a good fit for them, so you can see why I would be a little hesitant to just get another rejection.)

Of course, I still have plenty of agents left who haven’t answered my query. I still have the one who is reading my manuscript. I still have edits I can make to In the Sky and re-submit. But it’s hard. You wait months and months for a response and feel useless in the waiting process. That’s why I decided to create this blog—so I can have something to do while waiting. Something to focus my attention on.

I have been debating trying to finish my other novel and start submitting it, just so I can get something else started. The problem is, I always wanted In the Sky to be my first published work. As I confessed in My In the Sky Story, it is my absolute baby.

Either way, I believe it will be published. Whether it’s soon, in a while, or after another one gets published first. Just watch me.

Power Pose