It honestly comes down to why agents aren’t picking up your book.
I’m not published, nor have I queried yet (I don’t feel like I’m “there” yet, you know?) but I’ve been looking into the industry for future references and really? There’s a lot of factors that goes into why your book is being turned down. To give a few common examples, here’s some of those reasons:
- The industry isn’t looking for what you have.
The sucky thing about the industry is the fact that it changes all the time. There’s a lot of genres, plots, and tropes that are “trending” and is one of the main reasons why specific stories get picked up. Not all will because they’re not part of this circle. For example, you may have written an adult sci-fi fantasy novel when the publishers are looking for YA fantasy.
This doesn’t mean you should write toward the trend. You definitely shouldn’t because once you’re finished writing that trend, the trend will have already sailed off into the ocean. However, pay attention to what’s coming out currently (and maybe in later years) to see if you can hop on that train with your story.
- They have a book similar to yours.
If you send your book to an agent, they may reject it not because they hate it, but because they already have a book similar to yours. Agents and publishers have to be careful on what books to distribute as some stories can be very similar to one another and cause problems both for you and the publishers.
This doesn’t mean you should give up hope though. Keep sending it to various agents as they may find it interesting and something they may be willing to take on.
The first thing agents see is your query. You’d be surprised that over half of the query letters that get sent in is instantly rejected because the writer didn’t do it correctly. If you talk about yourself more, for example, than your book it’ll be thrown in the trash. If your query doesn’t have a good pitch, it may be put aside. If you don’t know how to pitch your story or can’t describe what the main plot is, then they may pass on it. And, worst of all, if you query to an agent who doesn’t represent the genre and target audience you’re writing for? Then your manuscript is doomed. Meg LaTorre is a former literary agent and in her video, she described that a large majority of people who would query an agent tend to go for any random person. Thing is, you need to do your research on the agents you plan on sending your manuscript to. There tends to be hundreds of people who are, for example, sending their adult romances to YA agents. And if this happens, they’ll easily reject it.
She also says that if you not only do your research and make sure your query is spot on, then you’ll be part of the minority that of those who are (actual) potential clients.
And finally, you may not be ready to be published. Most authors tend to say that you should have written at least three novels and that the story you’re currently querying is revised at least four times before being seen by an agent. This is so the agent can tell that you’re not an amateur and that you have some experience with writing. They may also reject it because they see potential in you, but this isn’t the story that they think they can sell.
Overall, understand that the publishing industry is a very long and tedious process. Some people get published years and years later. I once heard of a guy who finally got published after twenty years of trying. And it’s not always about publishing, but finding that right agent. Some writers go through multiple agents until they finally become published.
Also, it’s not the end of the world if you don’t get published right away. Delia Owens is 70 years old and published Where the Crawdads Sing which is her debut novel.
If the book you’re trying to get published isn’t happening, then let go of it and write another story. Or, perhaps, it just isn’t meant for the industry. You can always self-publish.