Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Know When They're Saying "No"

The most common complaint I hear from writers in the query process is “I don’t know why I got rejected. Agents don’t give enough feedback.”

If that’s you, I may have something that can help. It’s a little website called **

If you have a legitimate novel that you've worked hard to polish, submission materials that have been redrafted and refined, and a willingness to make sure your work is putting its best foot forward, WeBook is second to none (at least in my opinion). Here's why:

1. The website identifies for you which agents are actively seeking your genre and points you to them - and ONLY them (assuming you've identified your genre correctly).

2. You ONLY submit to quality, verified agents (Writers House anyone?  Curtis Brown?), and each agent's submission guidelines are listed to ensure you're including the right materials.

3. The website is specifically set up for multiple submissions, so every agent on there expects your work to be going to other agents at the same time.

4. If you pay the six month subscription fee (currently $9.95), every submission you make is tracked. That means you know when an agent has viewed it, even if they don’t reply. When they respond, you know what materials they reviewed prior to contacting you. And, most importantly, if you’re rejected you know which part of your submission didn’t make the grade.

No more wondering if an agent has opened your email (or even received it, for that matter). No more wondering whether they read the pages you sent.

The reason I recommend WeBook so highly is because the first two rounds of submissions I made were a mix of WeBook and standard electronic submissions elsewhere. I found the submissions that went out on the wire were total crapshoots as far as my learning experience was concerned. A complete enigma. But an interesting pattern unfolded in my WeBook submissions:

Of the agents who rejected my submission via WeBook, only two of them had actually read the pages. Several hadn’t read past the ‘short synopsis’ WeBook uses to tantalize agents into reading your submission – meaning my project just didn’t appeal. A few read the query letter and rejected based on that (so maybe my letter was lacking?). The vast majority that took the time to read the attached pages requested a larger sample!

So what did I learn? I learned that if I could get an agent reading, my writing was good enough to at least engage attention. Of course, we already know my book wasn’t ready – so don’t make the mistake I made and start submitting too early.

But when you’re sure your book is ‘cooked’ and your query is ready, don't miss the opportunity WeBook presents to learn about how you’re being perceived.

Two words of warning: 

- WeBook is easy enough to use that if your submission materials aren't top notch, you're going to burn a lot of bridges really quickly.  Don't get impatient, make sure your query and hook are hot!

- Be prepared for what you might learn.  If a lot of agents are reading your pages and rejecting you anyway, you might have to accept that the book isn’t right. You might need to go back to the drawing board.... But at least you know, right?

So, what do you think? Have you tried WeBook? Do you know of other sites that provide a similar service? Do you use submission sites, or do you prefer the personal contact of sending directly?

** I am NOT, in any way affiliated with WeBook. I gain nothing from promoting them here. I was lucky enough to stumble onto them at the end of last year, when it was brand new and absolutely free. It's now $9.95 for a six-month subscription, but I believe that's a very reasonable fee for what you're gaining.

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