How Many Submissions are Enough?

Submitting our work takes so much time and emotional strength. Then we get the form, or no response at all. Sometimes we can’t help but wonder, how many submissions is enough? Of course, as with most things in the publishing world the answer is not straightforward and simple. (Insert long lament here.) Nope, it depends on a variety of factors.

  • How many submissions have you sent? It can take a lot of no’s to get to a yes. I mean, A LOT. You’ve heard about people who have been querying for years and years, or those that queried well over 100 times before finding that connection, haven’t you? Yes, that may sound daunting but there is something to be said for keeping on and exhausting all possibilities.
  • What are your rejections like? If you are getting personalized rejections, you are on the right track! Agents and editors do not take the time to give feedback if they don’t see something worthy. There are many more factors than liking the work that go into acquisition decisions, so take heart!
    • If you are getting feedback are you taking it into consideration and revising as you see fit? Again, agents and publishers do not give feedback for no reason. Of course, as usual, there are many factors involved. You have to do what you think is best for your work.
  • Just because you are getting form rejections (or no response = no) does not mean that your work is not good. Case in point, things like THIS can happen.
    • Do be sure that you’ve worked with critique partners and have revised and made your work the best you can. Know the market.
    • Is your query letter giving the right impression? Be sure you have worked hard to make it shine. Get critiques on it too!
  • How are you feeling? Are you still enthusiastic about what you’re submitting? I’m not sure that you have to be super gung-ho if you’ve been submitting something for a long time, but you do still need to believe in it. If not, there is nothing wrong with taking a submission break on it. It doesn’t hurt to take time to re-think the project or get another opinion, submit other work, and get to work on something else. Having more than one project is a good thing!
    • If you’re feeling down about rejections don’t be afraid to talk about it with others who understand. Everyone who submits their work has been rejected. Famous writers still get rejected! It can help to think of each rejection as a stepping stone getting you to the place you want to go. You won’t find that yes if you don’t put your work out there.
  • Is it the right time in the market for a manuscript like yours? A good book will sell, right? But if there is a glut of books about a certain subject out on the market, might it be better to hold it back and work on submitting something else for a while? It’s something to consider.
    • One big thing to remember is just because you give up on a story now does not mean you are giving up on it forever. It could be something you work on with your agent in the future. It just might be something an editor is looking for someday and viola! you will have it to fit the bill. Keep on writing and producing. Keep on submitting.

Yes, you have to decide for yourself how many submissions is enough. We learn and grow as writers the more we write and submit. There is nothing wrong with putting something on hold for a while. There is nothing wrong with submitting your work to every single place it may be a good fit!

Tell us, how do you decide how many submissions are enough?

4 thoughts on “How Many Submissions are Enough?

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  1. I can’t tell you how much I needed a post/pep talk like this today. Also, a good cathartic cry. Needed that. Thank you, once again, Heather, for all you do here 🙂
    I have been frustrated because agents are not giving me feedback beyond “this is really good, just not right for me, and you will find the right agent soon.” (Though sometimes I think we define “soon” differently;)
    I do have a few fulls out, and the waiting gets so hard I send out more subs, jic. I know all this sounds good and I should not complain, but the rejections keep coming and it sucks. I do want the RIGHT agent for me and the book, so I need to be patient. I still believe in the story and I want someone who also does. It helps to work on other WIPS, and to stay busy, so off I go! #trytryagain

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    1. Oh Jan, I know it can be frustrating! Replies like that show that you are on the right track. It can take a lot of no’s to get to a yes. Unfortunately “soon” in publishing is a lot different than soon by most standards. Keep working towards your goal. That is the only thing you have control over. Of course, come vent in the SIC private FB group when you need to!

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