Reporting from the Query Wars

Queried: 38 Agents, 3 publishers
Form Rejections: 30 (28 Agents, 2 publishers)
Requests for Partials: 5 (all agents)
Personal Rejections: 3
Still out: 3 Agents, 1 Publisher

Neither publisher got past the slushers, near as I can tell.  And that’s okay; I expected that.  I haven’t had a partial request since last summer, which is wearing on me, but them’s the breaks, and as a friend has said, it’s basically a numbers game.  40 queries is still in the little league of novel rejections.

Novel Attack Plan

I’m still working on The Widening Gyre, Book 1 of The Remembrance War.  Looking at my stats, I’ve sent it out to seventeen agents. Of those, six did not respond at all, which is the annoying way to say “no, thanks.”  Eight responded with form rejections, for a total of 14 outright rejections.  Three agents asked for more pages and a closer look.  All three passed.

What this tells me–and there is some element of Rejectomancy in this, but a good kind, I think–is that the query letter works. I mean, three doesn’t seem like a large number, but it actually is; the vast majority of queries get rejected, so a 17.6% success rate is pretty good.

But the submission isn’t getting picked up. Now, here’s where the bad parts of Rejectomancy show up.  It could just be that I haven’t hit that Magic Agent yet–the one who will read my book and say “Holy shit, I can sell the crap out of this.”

But it could also be that the first 50 pages are a bit weak.  And I think that’s true.  I’m going through them now, tightening them up–making some wording changes, some deletions, some additions–and then I’ll send it to a new wave of agents.

If I haven’t gotten any bites by the end of my next cycle of twenty agents, I’ll send it to Tor directly via snail-mail. They accept un-agented submissions, but it’s not the preferred way, and it can take quite a while.

It’s a process, and a numbers game.  A fellow VP alum took two years and nearly two hundred rejections before she signed for a three-book deal.  Jim Butcher got 300 rejections before he sold his first Dresden novel.  There are worse stories.

Onward and upward.

Angry Robot Result

Spoiler: They said no.

Got my rejection today.  Here it is, in its form-letter glory:

Thank you for sending us “The Widening Gyre: The Remembrance War Book 1”. The Robots really appreciated the chance to read it, and thank you for taking the time to submit it to this year’s Open Door. Unfortunately, this book is not for us.

The “unfortunately” is kind of amusing. Unfortunate for me, definitely.  But for them? *shrug* That’s just how rejections are worded. I mean, what else are they gonna say?  “You suck”?  I admit I’d have preferred a more personal “Hey, here’s what I didn’t like,” but the truth is, they’ve got over a thousand of these to get through; that’s not going to happen.  It doesn’t happen with agents, either, most of the time.  The one personal I’ve gotten was pretty clear the problem was the agent’s particular likes and dislikes, and I can’t fault her for that, but it’s also useless to me as a writer except to say “don’t submit anything similar to her in future.”

Ah well.  The book is back out to agents already, and I’m working on, depending on the day and how I feel, two different books.  I have a new project that has really grabbed my attention, so I’m mostly focusing on that, as well as finally finishing a crit I’ve been promising for ages.

Anyway, the day job is technically over for the day, but I have about two days of grading I need to finish by tomorrow, so I’m going to go do that.  Maybe I’ll get some writing done tonight, but maybe not–I’m pretty wiped out, intellectually.



The Widening Gyre: Submitted

Yesterday (rather, at 4pm Monday PST, since the publisher is in Britain), the Open Door period opened for Angry Robot Books. And as planned, I sent my submission packet for The Widening Gyre, Book 1 of The Remembrance War.

Now begins the waiting.  And the pretending it won’t gut me if it doesn’t do well.  And the pretending I’m not on pins and needles waiting for that rejection.

To be honest, my Victory Condition isn’t that high–frankly, I’ll be happy if I get a request for the full manuscript, even if it’s ultimately not acquired.  That said, of course, I’ll be over the freaking moon if it does make it to the end.  So I’m hoping Tajen can pique their interest, and that the rest of the crew can hold it.

For those who’ve read the beta version, the submission piece ends at the end of Chapter 2, when Tajen has just signed Katherine, Liam, Takeshi, and Ben as his crew.

This is the same fragment (plus some more I added in later drafts) that got me accepted to Viable Paradise, so I know it’s not awful.  And the Beta process helped me refine it.  But man, it’s still such a nervewracking thing, to send your fictional darling out into the world.

Now that TWG is out there, I’m continuing work on Book 2, The Ceremony of Innocence (title, as always, tentative), in which the nasty war for Earth begins.  I have the basic arc of Book 2 planned, and am now breaking it into chapters and structural arcs.

Book 3, The Blood-Dimmed Tide, is just a tiny seed–I know it’ll involve a civil war among humans, but the actual chapters haven’t been plotted yet.

Alternate title for Book 3, by the way, for those playing at home: What Rough Beast.  

Off to the word mines!

Checking in from Queryland

My novel has now gone out to a total of 9 agents.  That’s really not many at all, but I’m holding now until I hear back from a few more.  Otherwise I get overwhelmed.  Also, doing research on good prospects takes time.  Setting aside the obvious bad idea scam agents, there are some agents who are probably good, but not quite what I want at this point in my search.

Anyway, I’ve had two hard rejects (where I actually got a rejection note) and one “soft” reject (“If you haven’t heard from us in a month, we’re not interested”).

To give non-writers some perspective, I know bestselling authors who got upwards of 300 rejections before they ever got something accepted.  So I’m still in the beginning of the process.  But man, I’m hoping most of those were short story submissions, because I’m not sure I can handle 300 agents.

But, well, nothing says this book will be the one to sell.  Might be another one. And, well, that’s okay.  I mean, I’d prefer it be this one; it was fun to write, and the beta readers liked it well enough.

Of the agents currently holding my query, the shortest length of time is 1 day, the longest is 63 days.  From what I understand, the two agents at 63 days could take months before I hear anything.  That’s what this business is like.

One of the agents has had it longer than his average turnaround time for either rejections or representation offers.  It’s hard not to read anything into that, but I’m trying my hardest not to–for all I know he’s been busy and hasn’t even looked at the query yet.  Or maybe he didn’t like it but knew someone else in his agency might and is having them look.  Or maybe he’s thinking about it.  Or maybe it got lost in his spam filter.  See how damaging this can be if you think about it too much?

At any rate, I’m still working on a crit I am way behind on.  Once I get that done, I’ll be returning to work on The Ceremony of Innocence, book 2 of The Remembrance War (titles, of course, subject to change).

Onward and upward.

State of the Teacher/Writer/Father


One of the frustrating things about teaching–and there are many frustrating things–is that I am often working with students who have a completely different set of values than my own.  I’m really really good at connecting to students who come from a similar class background to mine–middle class or higher.  But I’m somewhat less good at connecting with kids from “the hood.”

One of the things where we just don’t connect is that I cannot conceive of physically hurting someone unless it was to directly prevent harm to someone else.  But some of my students think even getting looked at in the “wrong” way is enough to launch into a full-on fight.  I can intellectually understand their thought-chain, but I will never truly “grok” it.

So, yeah.  Quite frustrated with that stuff today.

Further teacher weirdness:  Didn’t get an interview for a position I applied for at a school that I believe would be a better fit for me (same kinds and range of students, but staffed by people more like me).  Three out of our four admin team members left the school, leaving us with one experienced member and three newbies.  I can’t say more in a public place.


The search for agent representation continues.  So far I’ve had one actual rejection and one “silent rejection,” which means the agent basically says “If you don’t hear from us in X weeks, we’re passing on your submission.”  And it’s been twice that time.  Still out to several others who have response times of two to six (six! six! six!) months.

So, the search continues.  Every few days I decide on someone else to query and send it out there.

In the meantime, work on Remembrance War 2, currently titled The Ceremony of Innocence, proceeds.


My poor daughter is having a rough time in school.  It’s getting better, but it’s frustrating to see her struggle with math, as I did.  I do my best to help, but it’s hard to maintain my perspective sometimes, and I finally get my dad in ways I never did when he was alive.  Wish I could talk to him about it.

Her eighth birthday is coming up this weekend.  Looking forward to that.


OK, I stepped off the cliff.

I finished compiling my Viable Paradise application and sent it off.  Now I wait.  And wait.  And wait.  While I’m waiting, I’ll wait.  And then, when the waiting gets too much?  I’ll bite my nails, tap my feet, and wait some more.  Then I’ll wait again.

I hate waiting.

I know that the odds are stacked against me.  A lot of people apply, and there are only a limited number of slots.  I know that it doesn’t matter in the long run, and that if I don’t get in this year and I really want to do it, I can try again next year.  But that doesn’t really help.  In fact, it makes me more nervous.

If I get accepted, I’ll hem and haw.  I’ll resist telling Elli (my wife) because I’m not sure she’ll agree that it’s worth doing, even though we’ve talked about it and she’s the one who told me I should try.  Then I’ll freak out about the expense, even though we can afford it.

If I don’t get accepted, I’ll be crushed for a few days.  Then I’ll pick myself up and get back to work.