Chasing my crazy dream in the writing world…





There’s a lot of talk among writers about what I like to call the trinity of publishing: the query, the agent, the deal. We discuss at great lengths the query I think most of all. Is it written? How many times has it been revised? Did your CPs sign off on it? And on and on.


Once the queries go out, the focus then turns to request and rejections. There is a sort of mythical formula that goes along with this stage. If you get two requests (or three depending on who you’re talking to) for every ten queries sent, then your submission package (query and first pages) are doing their job. If you don’t get any requests in those first ten, then the next step is to go back and look at the query and first pages and tweak again until they are ready.


But what happens if your query does work? You send the full or partial, but unfortunately, those requests come back as rejections. I don’t think a lot of people talk about this stage. Why? Maybe because it’s embarrassing to get that far and not have an agent bite. Or perhaps it feels like a huge let down to get so close and then get a “no”.


Here’s the thing though, this stage of the querying process is not uncommon. It’s the reason why you read so many articles about querying in batches, so you can reassess when things aren’t going right for you and your manuscript.


Recently, a great writing friend of mine, Amy Reichert, announced her publishing deal for her book, THE COINCIDENCE OF COCONUT CAKE  (I love, love, love this title BTW!). In a blog post, she talked about the ups and downs of publishing and the detour she took with her manuscript. This detour included pulling it from the query trenches and doing a massive rewrite based on the feedback from a close writing friend. When Amy shared this with me, I was amazed by her commitment to the manuscript and her willingness to pull it apart and put it back together. Most of us, I think, would have trudged forward in the trenches and prayed someone would take a chance on us. But what Amy did was very brave. She knew that parts of her book weren’t clicking. She made the right decision, albeit a scary one, to step back and rework a story she loved in order to connect with an agent and eventually sell it.


So if you’re in the query trenches, and struggling, let Amy’s story be a beacon of light for you. Don’t be afraid to pull back and reassess. Send your manuscript to new CPs or perhaps work with a trusted editor. Do what you can to make that beloved book better. If you put in the hard work, you may just have a happy ending like Amy’s.


What are your thoughts about stepping back mid-query? Have you done it before? I would love to hear your feedback in the comments!





  1. Amy,
    I m glad you get into this subject. Thank you 🙂 We need more posts about what happens once writers query. I cannot count how many times I had to pull apart my novel and put it back together a different way with major rewrites. If THE COINCIDENCE OF COCONUT CAKE is Amy’s first novel, that makes a lot of sense to me. You’re right, I have seen many people write a new manuscript before they write one good enough to be published. The mistake, in my opinion, is that they do not stick with their novel long enough until it is in top notch shape. My take on this is that it takes 5 years to write the first novel (or more), but when a writer has learned all the tricks an gained compete confidence, the following books are easier to write and we do not need to struggle that much anymore. Writing is an art and one year makes a big difference in the life of a writer and his or her work.

    • Thank you for your comments, Sussu!

    • Kathleen Says:

      Well, I’ve been working on my current MS for at least 5 years, so I guess I’m in the zone. 🙂 I abandoned another one, and the current one I did pull back after the first round of form-rejection queries. It’s been through more than one major overhaul since then. Your comment about sticking with it is validating, because The Great “Everyone” says that you usually have to write and abandon multiple novels before you are good enough to land the deal.

  2. I’m in the end of my stepping back session and will set foot in the trenches again soon. I didn’t want my story to die there so I had to hone it again, one last time, and give it a fighting chance.

  3. I think this is a wise step IF you’re getting the same sorts of feedback on the ms in the rejections (and if you’re getting feedback in your rejections- yay you! That’s a good sign). If you’re getting feedback that’s contradictory, you may just not have reached the right set of eyes yet. It’s hard to know when to make changes and when to forge ahead. I moved on from querying my first ms when I kept getting rejections that praised the writing but said the market was too soft in that genre. That’s when I focused on the next book, queried that and got my agent (who’s now subbing it). Starting the next book is never a bad thing to do. It can give you perspective on the one you’re querying. Nice post about a tough topic!

  4. I’ve done this. I queried 30 agents about 2 years ago with only one request. After this, i won a free ms critique from a reputable editor, who told me the major issues within my ms.

    I put the project away for a while, but about 1 year ago i took it up again and rewrote it from scratch. I’m hoping to query the new project by the end of the year. Here’s to crossing my fingers and seeing what happens.

  5. I’m doing it right now! It’s a lot, but if you take enough time to step back and reassess, I think it definitely helps your manuscript. It also helps to have great CPs who’ll stand by you and the story, and give it the tough love it needs in this time. If you believe in your story and you know what’s wrong, I say go for it.

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 )

Google+ photo

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

Connecting to %s