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I've sent it to five agents but they didn't want to take it on.  What do I do now?

Dear Sharon:

Send it to five more!  Send it to ten more!  Send it to twenty more!

The above is my automatic response.  Too many authors give up too soon when trying to pitch a manuscript.  Keep submitting!

Having said that, let me ask (and answer) a few questions:

Have you gotten any feedback with the rejection letters?  It's not a problem if you didn't.  Most agents, and editors for that matter, don't have the time to write a letter with a critique of your book.  But, if they did send back some comments, take a hard look at them.

For instance:  Did they make any specific suggestions for the future of the book?  Did they mention that your dialogue is flat?  That your characters need development? That your pacing is slow?  That your pacing is too fast?

Were any of the comments repeated from two or more of the agents?  For example: If one of the agents didn't like your dialogue, one didn't like your characters, another didn't like the pacing and yet another didn't like the red dress the heroine wore to the ball, you are not getting a consistent criticism.  Consistent criticism is the only criticism you should pay attention to.  If all five agents wrote back that they didn't like your dialogue then that's an obvious clue that there's something wrong with your dialogue and you'd better fix it.

But if your responses are across the board, with no consistency, then you've probably just not hit the agent who feels comfortable with your style.  Publishing is not an objective business, Sharon.  It's highly subjective.  Agents and editors want to represent and buy books they believe in.  Just because you haven't found the agent or editor that appreciates you style doesn't mean they aren't out there.

Which leads me back to:  Send it out some more!  Don't stop at five.  Keep going.

I hope this helped, Sharon.  I'd appreciate a good review (see below) if you have the time and only if my answer did help you.

Thanks for asking and remember to come back to All Experts with any and all of your questions.

Liz Aleshire
Random House Guide to Antique Quilts

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Liz Aleshire


What is a book proposal and why do I need one? Do I need a book proposal for both nonfiction and fiction books? How do I write a book proposal? What are the required components of a book proposal? What is an overview? What is a synopsis? How do I find out what other books are available on my topic so I can make my book different? How do I pitch to an agent/publisher? What's a query letter? What's a 30-second commercial?


I am the author of four nonfiction books: Private Lives of Ministers' Wives (with Rev. Sherry Taylor,New Horizon Press, New Jersey, 1991)and currently working on a second edition; Bugs: Stingers, Suckers, Sweeties, Swingers (a FRanklin Watts Frist Book, Chicago, 1993); The Confident Collector Identification and Price Guid to Quilts (with Kathleen Barach, Avon Books, NY, 1992); and, Official Price Guide to Quilts 2nd edition(with Kathleen Barach, Random House, NY, 2003.) I've taught How to Write the Book Proposal for the past ten years at the week long International Women's Writing Guild annual summer conference, and, at the Manchester Community College Continuing Education program. I've taught in many local continuing education programs in central Connecticut. Five authors have sold books using my methods for writing the book proposal. I have spoken at the Big Apple Conference, an IWWG event held in NYC; both Connecticut chapters of the Romance Writer's of America other writing conferences

Internation Women's Writing Guild, past associate member American Society of Journalists and Authors

Books for New Horizon Press. NJ; Franklin Watts (Now Scolastic)Danbury, CT; Avon Books, NYC; and, Random House, NYC

B.A in Economics from the University of Connecticut

Past/Present clients
Carren Strock, author Married Women Who Love Women; Doris Larson, travel writer, Ohio; MaryLou Streznewsi author Gifted Grownups.

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