Playing It Safe

Posted: May 18, 2017 in Writing
Tags: , , , , ,


In the past, when I’d finished a revision and adjusted my query to reflect any plot changes or important new points of focus, I’d eagerly send it off to a fresh batch of agents, certain that these latest changes would make my manuscript irresistible.

That has thus far proved untrue.  And each time I send out another batch of queries, the total list of agents to which I can submit dwindles. It has made me more cautious.  The rule of the industry is that once an agent has rejected a manuscript, they will not look at it again — revised or otherwise.

You know the expression, “Youth is wasted on the young?” It is also true that querying is wasted on the inexperienced. The longer you query and revise based on feedback, the fewer agents are left to query. You start to get very careful.

It has been 10 months since I last queried an agent.  And since then I have done two complete revisions, including cutting 4,000 words. But I’m not the eager, fresh-faced writer I was, itching to blanket the world with queries. I have to be deliberate, selective, confident … careful. I am going to get as much free feedback as possible and polish any rough patches before I risk crossing any more agents off my list.

I’m taking the slow but steady path of the tortoise. I’m playing it safe.

  1. I’m in the same boat. I’ve sent out about 20 query letters over the past 10 months to agents I thought were the one. All have come back with rejection letters or nothing. Sometimes its tough being in the dark waiting for a response but my worst response was a rejection 2 days after sending the letter.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Careful is not the same as giving up and that’s an important distinction. I’m happy to hear you’re still toeing the line and keeping the brass shiny along the way. You can do this. You WILL break out and shine.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. virginiafh says:

    This is a very good tip — thank you!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. hellerj says:

    I agree with you that it is not wise to send out queries until an author has thoroughly revised a manuscript. I use my writers group for suggestions for revising my manuscripts. I do not query agents until my group members are satisfied with my work.

    Best wishes for the spring!

    Janet Ruth Heller

    Author of the poetry books Exodus (WordTech Editions, 2014), Folk Concert: Changing Times (Anaphora Literary Press, 2012) and Traffic Stop (Finishing Line Press, 2011), the scholarly book Coleridge, Lamb, Hazlitt, and the Reader of Drama (University of Missouri Press, 1990), the award-winning book for kids about bullying, How the Moon Regained Her Shape (Arbordale, 2006; 4th edn. 2014), and the middle-grade book for kids The Passover Surprise (Fictive Press, 2015).

    My website is


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s