Let’s look at a familiar scenario:
You’ve prepared a new, exciting book idea, one that requires a
book proposal. Afterwards, you begin the process of
querying agents. Maybe the process is long and challenging,
but eventually several agents request to see a full book
proposal. Still your idea is turned down.
What happened? Did something go wrong?
Several things need to be thought about and considered afterwards.
First and foremost, if there are many rejections, is there a similar theme or reason across all of the rejections? Did you query agents who do NOT represent the book’s category? Do you need to reconsider where the book would be shelved once it’s published? Reading the rejection letters and searching for similar rejection reasons can be an effective tool in changing one’s pitch and/or book idea (in finding an agent). If agents take the time to provide advice, it’s definitely worth the consideration. Plus, looking at the bigger picture is always to the author’s advantage.
Next, how up-to-date is your proposal and query letter? What about the newest accomplishments, an updated competition section, updated promotion & market sections, and more? Re-reading and updating these materials every few months is a valuable use of one’s time.
Re-evaluating the proposal for any project, that hasn’t sold yet, is a very normal part of my job. Reading the editors’ letters, collaborating with my authors on discussing these rejections, and tweaking the proposal/book idea(s) afterwards is absolutely essential. Putting the extra elbow grease into fine-tuning an already exciting book project (on my end) is mandatory, as well as a process that I will happily participate in.
Aspiring authors should do the same thing. It’ll make the query process for Agent representation much smoother, and hopefully a more positive experience too.