So this January, I signed up for QueryTracker Premium in the hopes that it would help me submit Replaneted (a.k.a. terraforming romance). I’ve probably doled out about $200-$250 on this book (query letter specifically) because I believed Replaneted was a good story. It was the best I had written so far and the most marketable. It had a strong voice, defined characters, an interesting setting, a plot full of heart and intrigue. So how did it go?
It sucked worse than any other submission blitz I’ve ever done. Not a single request for a complete manuscript or even a partial. Every rejection was a form letter. It was like I didn’t even exist. Like I was being blackballed. Did I do something to bring this on? Did I write a blog post that offended somebody and now my name is persona non grata to agents?
I understand this is a hard time for selling new novels. It used to be a 98% rejection rate on a good day, now it seems like 99.9%. With the pandemic, you had two big blows to the industry. One was the reduction of the workforce (publishers, agents, paper shortage, supply chain issues, etc.). The other was that, when everyone’s in lockdown, everyone writes a covid book. (I think that’s going to be a “thing”. Both John Scalzi and Stephen King have published theirs.) This one-two punch creates a backlog and agents are scrambling to get through it. So they’re being super picky about who they take on, if they’re even doing so. (source)
But I don’t see the effects of the backlog. I see rejections coming in at the same rate they always have. They’re just less invested. Meanwhile “Where the Crawdads Sing” has been on the bestseller list for four hundred years. And eighteen Colleen Hoover novels sit there, never giving anyone else a chance. Do you know how many books involve the protagonist returning to their hometown? It’s ridiculous how samey these all are. That’s all anyone wants. Just romance chick-lit and thrillers. Well, I wrote for the female audience. I wrote a story that has both romance and intrigue. It was a regency novel with a science fiction setting. If people like Bridgerton and Verity then why don’t I fit into that?