Out of the clear blue sky

In the course of a couple of days I received three “no thank you” emails from agents I had sent Finnegans Festive to. (That’s right! I ended a sentence with a preposition.)

A pair of these were swift responders, giving me the bad news within days of my query emails. As if that wasn’t bad enough, the third rejection came from one of the two agents who had asked for sample chapters. I know it was naive, but I held out some hope for that.

And then a surprise came in my email inbox today. An agency I had queried back in May sent me an email asking for 25 pages! I had given up on this site since they said they would respond in six to eight weeks.

Curiously, this query was made with my original pitch, selling the genre-busting qualities of the story rather than its mystery. I had concluded that the original pitch was too “radical” for the staid, formulaic book industry, so I had abandoned that approach.

Well, first thing tomorrow I’m going to send those 25 pages and cross my fingers!

Update: I looked at my submission log and determined that I have submitted Finnegans Festive to 29 agents, beginning in March of 2007. From those I have had

  • 3 positive responses asking for sample chapters
  • 16 explicit rejections
  • 2 tacit rejections based on purported response time
  • 9 non-responses

I had counted my latest good response as a non-response some months ago. The fact that they did come back after their reported response time tells me that I can reasonably consider the remaining nine non-responses as still viable.

When I began shopping Finnegans Festive around, I told myself that I would accept fifty rejections before I began to consider the novel as unworthy and one hundred rejections before I would give up on it. (I’ve seen some writers reporting several hundred rejections for a work, and they remain undaunted.) The fact that I’ve had a better than 10% positive response ratio suggests to me that I have a novel worth the time and trouble of shopping around.

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