1. Mustang
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    Mustang New Member

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    Is this normal?

    Discussion in 'Publishing' started by Mustang, Oct 14, 2012.

    Hello all, this is my very first post here:

    Is it normal for agents to reject your work without so much as looking at the materials you send with your query letter?

    I've written a 4 part illustrated humor book series, and because it's illustrated (this is not the typical book proposal, I suppose), I thought it would be important to include a dozen sample pages from each book to give the agent an idea of the skill level I have as the illustrator as well as the author -- and the vast majority of the agents are sending me rejections without even looking at the work (I can tell they aren't reviewing them, since I place the paper clips in a very strategic pattern on the sample material -- and they're almost all being returned with the paper clips in the exact same spot).

    Is this normal?

    Also, one agent who did review my work (her return letter stated that she read it "with great interest") even stated that it was "hilarious" (her exact word) -- yet still rejected it.

    So, I'm wondering:

    1. Is any of this normal?

    2. Is there something especially difficult about getting published in the "humor" and/or "illustrated" book market(s)?

    I'm a little frustrated and feel like I'm still a bit "green" when it comes to the whole publishing industry. Any feedback would be greatly appreciated. Thanks in advance!
     
  2. Thromnambular
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    Thromnambular Member

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    Hmm, getting published is generally a tough endeavor.

    Even if an agent personally liked your work, it doesn't mean that it's something that he/she thinks can be easily sold.

    Hopefully I won't get too much flak for saying this, but have you considered starting a Kickstarter project in order to fund an individual publishing effort? A "plain" text book is somewhat difficult to fund through Kickstarter, but illustrated works (like graphic novels and such) seem to get funded fairly easily. You don't even have to actually print anything, you can sell it in a digital format. You could even try e-publishing, like Kindle Direct and such.
     
  3. robertpri007
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    robertpri007 Member

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    I don't think the word, "normal" applies to the publishing industry. Over the years, I've sent probably a hundred query letters to agents and publishers, and not all of them bothered to reply. I did included SASE's. Some obviously did not read it, others did and were not interested, and some replied with very positive comments. A few said the ms was very good, entertaining, and they wished me luck. However, they were not able to proceed for a variety of reasons:

    1-they are booked for two years
    2-that genre has been filled [publishers have limits]
    3-good story but a difficult sell
    4-the topic/genre has been overdone

    etc
    etc

    You just have to tough it out and keep going.
     
  4. EdFromNY
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    EdFromNY Hope to improve with age Supporter Contributor

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    It probably means that yours was not a project that they would be interested in. Either that or you did not follow the agent's submission guidelines. These are usually posted on their web site, and if you use a guide like Writer's Market, they're usually there, too. I have never sent anything with a query letter unless it was specifically requested in the submission guidelines.

    Again, it may be that your book wasn't the kind of thing she was looking to work with, or she may have been too overloaded at the moment to take on a new project. The fact that you got a positive comment like that should be cause for encouragement.
     
  5. Steph4136
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    Steph4136 Senior Member

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    I agree with Ed. Have you read the different guidelines for submissions for each agency?

    I'm at the submissions stage myself, and have been doing a lot of research on the ins and outs of it. The main thing I keep on seeing of the what not to do's and the main reason they'll reject is an author not following the submission directions. Even the query letter has to be just so or else they won't even look at anything else.
     
  6. shadowwalker
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    shadowwalker Contributing Member Contributor

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    I'd go along with the 'check the guidelines' vein. Plus the fact that you were querying a series. My understanding is that most agents/publishers aren't interested in series because they don't even know how well the first one will sell. Make sure the first book is a good standalone and query only that one - if it sells, you'll have much better luck with the next three.
     
  7. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    1.yes, it's normal
    ...first, because mss must be sent 'loose' with no staples, clips, etc., so your using the paper clips is unacceptable in itself... and illustrations are not accepted by publishers unless the illustrator is known to them, or well-known in the art world, so that's another reason agents will toss the submission unread... next comes the 'series' no-no... you need to query/submit one stand alone book at a time... no one will be interested in a series unless the first book was a runaway bestseller... lastly, was your submission actually requested, or did you send it before querying and being asked to send sample chapters or the full ms?... that would be the final nail in your coffin, if you did the latter...

    2.yes, in re 'illustrated'
    ...see why above...
     
  8. Mustang
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    Mustang New Member

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    Thank you all for your responses. I'm glad to see that this is a supportive and very active board (I was afraid I was going to have to wait a while for feedback) -- so this is great to know.

    I did use the Writer's Market when choosing agents to query, and though I tried to follow their guidelines, I realized that my query was very unusual and would (I thought) necessitate submitting sample illustrations. In other words, a typical query letter describes the content (text-wise) of our proposed book -- but I realized there was no way I could "describe" my ability as an illustrator to bring the books to life. The illustrations are integral to the humor in this proposal -- how could I demonstrate this through a query letter alone?

    I totally overlooked the "no no" about submitting an entire series at one time, so thank you guys for pointing that out to me. You've given me something to really think about.

    And as far as staples and paper clips go, I understand that staples are absolutely frowned upon. I didn't realize, however, that paper clips are not welcomed.
     
  9. robertpri007
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    robertpri007 Member

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    Yes, this is a good site, and I'm very glad to have found it. There are endless jokes about the ability to paper your walls with rejection letters, but unfortunately, that is the real world.
    Another old cliche'--if it was easy, everyone would do it.

    Stay in there. Patience and stamina are essential.
     

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