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  1. #1
    SF Pete

    When you know you have failed...

    I know one should not give up and constantly revise, edit, modify, etc. to get one's manuscript promoted and sold. And everyone's idea of "failure" is different. But what is considered the writer's standard benchmark today for giving up on selling a manuscript to a literary agent? (I haven't visited WN in years).

    Is it getting an agent to read and reject the entire MS? Is it trying all credible lit. agents and getting query rejections? Is it getting a lit. agent to read the first three chapters and rejecting it? When does a writer know when to move on and when he or she didn't try hard enough?

    In my opinion, if an agent never read the MS, how can one call it a failure? That's almost akin to judging a bottle of wine without opening it, smelling it, and tasting it. Of course the problem here is that the shelves have so many bottles of wine for the agent to choose from... :-\.

  2. #2
    Greg Kosson

    Re: When you know you have failed...

    Are you asking for permission to quit? You can, without calling it failure.

    People usually give up when they can't stand it any more. The arrival of that moment announces itself in no uncertain terms.

    Then, a few years later, you find yourself at it again.

  3. #3
    Louise Delaney

    Re: When you know you have failed...

    It needs the objectivity to judge your own story and decide if it really worked or missed out. I have written three full length manuscripts so far which I judge fall into the "didn't make it" category. I put it down to experience and am thankful that I can admit to failing.

    The important part of this exercise was to see where I missed the boat, and not fall into the same error again.

    Of the three only one sits in my "rewrite" basket. The idea was good, but I failed in the telling. Though it will probably never be rewritten as that particular story centres around events that happened in the seventies when I originally wrote the story.

    To continue the bottle of wine analogy - you, the writer should have opened the bottle and had a critical tasting. And like wines, some stories may never develop into fine vintages, with complex flavours. A poor wine never gets any better.

    Hmmm, that's a dodgy sort of comparison but I think there's something in it!

  4. #4
    SF Pete

    Re: When you know you have failed...

    I sent a lot of query letters about six years ago. The general literary agent replies were, "Sounds interesting, but not something I'm looking for right now."

    So I gather it's not the writing per se (since the agent didn't read any part of the MS, but the idea for the time).

    So I am wondering if "right now" is a better market to try selling the same story again, with of course some query letter modifications. To put it plainly, if I try again now, it'll be a "POST-9/11" try (not sure if that has any difference in the writing market than "PRE-9/11").

    Would this question get more feedback in the Lit. Agent link?


  5. #5
    Mike Pettigrew

    Re: When you know you have failed...

    Don't quit.

    Do you believe in yourself, your work? If so, keep at it. No one ever succeeded by giving up.

    (Maybe I'm talking to myself here too.)

    Noman Mailer wrote that the only thing all authors have in common is a limitless ego. If people aren't recignizing your genius, it's because they don't yet have the eyes to see it. But someone out there surely does, and your success will be sweeter for what you've had to overcome to achieve it.

    You wouldn't be writing if you didn't think - if you didn't *know* - that you're good. So don't let a few rejections get you down. If you quit now, you'll spend the rest of your life wondering what might have been.

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