A reader asks:
Jessica … I have a GREAT BOOK! That’s what my test readers say; that’s what my family says; that’s what I SAY! A dozen well-respected agents have given my pitch the bounce. Is it one strike and I’m out? If I up my game with a new strategy, will you see if I can bunt?
While your family and test readers might think you have a great book, I have to ask the question, is it the query or is it the book?
Getting published means entering the business of publishing and that means having more than just a great book. It means creating a product that readers want and can find. In addition to powerful writing, interesting characters, and a dynamic plot, the book has to appeal to a segment of the reading market in a way that they can even find it (especially for debut authors). So a fabulous story is one thing, but does it have a marketable hook and is it really fabulous? Or is your family being nice (which is just fine too)?
If you feel the problem is just the query, I think it’s perfectly acceptable to rework the query and resubmit to an agent once, but just once. Remember though, this is a business, and agents are reading hundreds of queries, submissions, and books each month. We have tough opinions and are focused for a reason. We are here to find books to build a business on and it takes more than just a “great book” to do that for an agent, for a publisher, and for an author’s career.