This post was written for the Insecure Writer’s Support Group where we share our encouragement or insecurities on the first Wednesday of the month, to join the group or find out more click here.



Toi Thomas | T. Powell Coltrin | M.J. Fifield | Tara Tyler


What publishing path are you considering/did you take, and why?

Short answer: I’m going traditional but I’ve mostly submitted to indie publishers. Why for the experience and creds. Now, I’m looking at landing an agent. Form rejections galore so far, but my journey has just begun. Below is what I’ve been considering since my hunt has begun.


What does it mean when an agent (reader) doesn’t connect?

I didn’t know so I searched the web for insightful advice.

Turns out that not connecting was a common rejection in a form letter. I didn’t know I was getting form letters until I checked Agent Comments in QueryTracker. Every letter was there.

One point I’d like to make is the majority of them were kind and encouraging. They didn’t have to write them like that and I know it.

I also revamped my query package and am trying again.

Any of you find an agent using the slush pile? Care to share how it went.


  1. Interesting about the form letters listed on QueryTracker. I didn’t know that! I like the idea of Indie publishers, too.

  2. If most of the letters were “kind and encouraging”, doesn’t that mean they are somewhat personal? Or is that a part of the standard rejection letter these days. In which case, it’s still pretty lame. Bon courage on your quest for an agent. It all starts with rejection letters, until you get snatched up! 🙂

    • They don’t want to offend the next best seller, or hurt anyone’s feelings. I think agents are in a bad place (somewhere between grabbing a brass ring and never knowing when it will appear). Since they don’t know, they tread carefully. 😉

  3. Rejection letters certainly build character, don’t they? Don’t get discouraged. The right agent at the right time WILL find you!

  4. You are way ahead of me. I will be watching and learning.

  5. I have a feeling most agents send out form letters of some kind, but best of luck in the quest of finding an agent!

  6. I always love how you research and find the truth in your journeys. I wish you much luck 🙂

  7. Angela Wooldridge

    Interesting to hear about the form letters, thanks for sharing and good luck!

  8. I have stopped keeping track of my rejection letters. I read through them and then chuck it.
    Wishing you all the best.

    Shalom aleichem,
    Pat G @ EverythingMustChange

  9. I haven’t tried yet, but many of the debut authors I interview on my blog found their agent that way. I think not giving up and keeping up the writing and querying are key. Some queried 100+ agents before finding theirs. Good. luck

  10. At this point, I think most agents have a batch of form letters, and they cut and paste the best one for the query. Happy IWSG day!

  11. It does my heart good to read how very many rejections various super-successful writers got before they finally got a bite. Onward! Happy writing in September.

  12. Rejection is always difficult but doesn’t have to be crippling. I too, have found most query responses were gently written, but they’re still rejections. But oh well! It happens and has happened and will continue to happen as long as this system is the one we have, so keep on going and don’t give up!

  13. Agents at conference say they dip into their slush piles, so I guess those piles can be useful for both the agents and the writers. I don’t like the thought of landing in one, but I do like that they are sometimes a resource.

    • Two of my responses were from assistants, claiming they took my submission to their boss. That was something, until I also found one to be a form letter. What a rush though. 🙂

  14. Good luck with this journey! I’m sure somewhere is that one yes that’s the right fit for you.

  15. It’s nice that you’ve gotten feedback for most of your rejections. It would be better if everyone provided something more than just a form letter to help clue the writer in.

  16. If they gave feedback that related to your book specifically, that would be much better than a form letter, no matter how beautifully written. I hope you got some of those too.

  17. It’s not an ideal situation for writers. Thankfully, self-publishing provides an outlet.

  18. Query Tracker and Agent Query Connect are super helpful for finding out if it’s a form letter!

  19. I love how you unearthed the form letters! There’s got to be a grain of humor in that. But I admire your dedication to the journey of traditional publishing.

  20. Query rejections are a bane to writers, but keep revising. Make sure you have a great hook. I’ve known about the form letters for quite some time, and the no responses means–no, is frustrating.
    Thankfully, we now have many other paths we can get our stories out there.
    Wishing you much luck in your query process.

  21. I empathize with some of these agents–the abundance of things in their inbox, the time and investment required to go through each one individually… Having critiqued and edited quite a bit, I understand why they pass on many novels, and it really is nothing against the author. If they don’t instantly connect with something, you don’t want them to represent you. Period. You want someone who is passionate about your work–so passionate they’ll champion you for life. That’s why the slush pile is so ineffective and you want to make a connection that sticks out.

  22. Sometimes when agents change agencies, it can be a good time to query because they are looking to build their client base at the new agency. Publishers Lunch used to mention that type of info, and for the children’s world, Harold Underdown and Kathy Temean mention “Industry Changes” on their blogs. Best of luck!

  23. I am querying again, and it does get easier, or maybe experience puts it in perspective. For instance, when I did my research for this round, I learned that one of the agents who rejected me last time actually did quit agenting to go teach underprivileged children!

  24. Your post is interesting as are all the comments. I knew trying to find a publisher or agent was hard, just never realized how much work went into it. In a way I guess I am more chicken to try the traditional way because of how long it can take. Then I always fear that somehow my story will be changed into something it originally wasn’t. If that makes sense.

  25. I’ve never had a kind or encouraging form letter. Usually a form letter is just “sorry not for me” and doesn’t offer anything else. Sounds like you’ve received personalized (personal) rejection letters, which is good. A notch above form rejection letters.

  26. I think the best way to connect to agents is to go to writing conferences. Many of them offer short sessions with agents, and some agents find their clients this way. It is as much a ‘connection’ between the agents and your writing as it is between you and her as persons.

  27. I’ll have to give Query Tracker a visit. Thanks for the tip. And the best of luck to you!

  28. All the best on your querying journey.

    I found mine while networking during workshops–and it has been a positive experience so far.

    What really helped though was getting my query workshopped by an agent (there was a workshop held in London on how to query, etc)–it got me requests from agents outside the ones I was recommended to, as well.

  29. I am hoping for the traditional route and have stacked up a heap of rejections over the last few years! Some simple standard letters (having so many you get to recognise them!). Some have been longer and more personal and they are always a little boost. Some just say on their websites that you will only receive a response if we are interested reading more.Oh well, least I’m putting myself out there and one day . . . .

  30. I’ve gotten two query rejections that were personal. The rest have been form. After doing short stories for so long, I’m used to the form ones, though sometimes they leave me wondering (unless and until I submit to them again and get the same letter.) Some are definitely better at writing supportive form rejections, which is nice.

  31. Wow I admire you. I really think you’re brave going for an agent. I’ve always been too scared of taking that step. Good luck, Anna!

  32. I had no idea there was a place where you can see form rejection letters. Fascinating!

  33. I’m interested in hybrid publishing. Taking both the self-publish and traditional route. Have a list of agents and publishers to one day submit to. And have a formatter and designer found on Fiverr that I plan to go back to once I have another work to selfpub.

  34. Hi Anna,

    I certainly received my share of FORM LETTER rejections. I especially love the “DEAR AUTHOR” ones. They anger me. WE spend years crafting a story and hours paining over a query… the least they can do is address us by OUR NAMES… Is that too much to ask.

    Thankfully I haven’t received one of those in many years. I am actually at the point were my rejections are more personal. I appreciate the agent taking the time to address my by my name and at times give some reason for the rejection.

    GOOD LUCK…. I’m right there with you in the trenches….

  35. First, I wish you success in your search for an agent, Anna. I sense that you have the determination to move ahead. Good luck. I know Query Tracker from when I very briefly considered an agent so I can see the advantages. Unfortunately, I abandoned the idea as I’m in a wheelchair and don’t travel so I can never get to even writer meetings. But that doesn’t mean that having an agent isn’t a brilliant idea.

  36. Wishing you much success in your quest.

  37. Happy Be-lated IWSG Day!
    Thank you so much for stopping by my blog.
    It was so long ago that I tried to get an agent, I honestly don’t remember the experience. In any case, I ended up self-publishing. I like your plan though. Submitting to small and indie presses for experience and creds is smart.

  38. Good luck with the querying! 🙂

  39. I wish you all success in finding an agent. My work sat for two years with an agent before it went to a small publisher. One that I found on my own. Make sure you stay connected and don’t hesitate to ask questions. I’d have done better if I’d been more curious and less trusting. I queried agents looking for my genre and close to and in NY. Good luck!

  40. Good luck in your agent hunt! During my time in query land, I’ve only queried to one agent. The rest has been to small press.

  41. Good luck with your agent search! I suggest sending out small batches of queries, revise based on results and then the next batch and so on. Helps to learn from real examples — I’m sure a lot of people already know about this site, maybe you do, but it’s worth repeating: http://queryshark.blogspot.com/

  42. Victoria Marie Lees

    Wow, Anna! Finding an agent is amazingly difficult. Bravo to you to revise and send out another round. All the luck to you, my dear! Can’t say I have any experience in this yet.

  43. Thanks for taking time away from your writing to visit my blog!

  44. I did find an agent through the slush pile, but I ended up having to fire her, so I’m not sure how much of a success story that is.

    I once heard someone tell a bunch of unpublished writers, “Any agent who would take you now, you don’t want.” While that isn’t always the case, it’s true a lot of the time. The agents who tend to take chances on debut authors are rookies who are still building their lists. Sometimes those agents end up being awesome, and sometimes they don’t. The best experiences I’ve heard of with agents came when the writer built up such a name for him/herself with smaller press and/or indie publishing that the agent came to them.

    • I understand I’m taking a chance and am trying to be… I’m not sure careful is the right word, because I’m submitting to agents with outstanding reps.

      If I’m accepted, very likely it will be someone lower on the list, but with a great agency and a mentor.

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