Interpreting Agent Rejection

Rate this item
(0 votes)
by Tim Burdick on 31 December, 2016

In the August 2013, the Write Life blog published an article about the proper number of agents to query. In this article, Chuck Sambuchino advises only 6 -8 agents. If you are rejected, it means the writer’s query needs revising. After submitting to your next group, if you are rejected, you need to revise your manuscript.

Currently, I am querying agents for the first time and unsure of the most effective means. A fixed number? A mass submission? A constant steady stream of queries to agents and publishers (as I find people who are a good match for my work).

I shared this article’s ideas with my more established writing colleagues. Here is how they responded.


I see nothing wrong with the approach advocated by the article's author, but he makes an
unwarranted assumption. When an agent doesn't respond or sends a form
rejection, it does not prove that the query was lousy.

The far more likely reason is that the agent doesn't want to take on the particular
novel for various reasons - not her expertise, not interested in subject
matter, does not think it's marketable, etc.


I tend to agree with you, Peter.

I queried 20 or so agents and heard back from most of them. [They] simply told me they did not think there was enough of a market for my book. [It] seems strange to me as it is about and for stepmoms, of which there are over 14 million in the states alone.

At least one small publishing house seemed to think my book had a strong market. I’m still waiting on the release as these small houses can be slow… Hopefully next year! :D


I agree with Peter. Rejection does not equal bad query letter. Always make
sure you query letter matches the agent's requirements.

Final Thoughts: If I am rejected, I don’t have to rewrite my whole query. Other factors might influence an agent. But, I should research my agent’s criteria and submission requirements and make sure that my piece meets them. This new insight helps me to stop stressing and make a more effective plan about submitting my work. Now I can return to my writing.


1 comment

  • Peter Bernhardt

    Please take the reason that there is not enough of a market with a grain of salt. Agents use boilerplate rejection letters and lack of a market is one of many "reasons" they give, but as Sportin' Life so convincingly sang in Porgy and Bess: "It ain't necessarily so."
    Peter Bernhardt, Author: The Stasi File, 2011 ABNA Quarter Finalist; Kiss of the Shaman's Daughter [sequel]; Red Romeo; - -

    Peter Bernhardt 01 January, 2017

Leave a comment

User Login