My Attempt at Traditional Publishing

Last Updated: April 18, 2023

Traditional publishing was once my endgame. I originally thought once I finished writing my manuscript, I’ll self-edit my story, start querying agents, and find an agent who would want to champion my book.

How wrong I was…

During the years of 2021-2022, I was so eager on getting a literary agent to represent me because I just wanted to write. I didn’t want to format my own manuscript, market my book, and simply deal with the difficulties of the publication process. Because of this, I was determined to sign with an agent (ideally my dream agent). Unfortunately, my dream agent (a story for another time) wasn’t accepting queries at the time thus began my search for other agents who might be interested in my book. 

I officially finished writing/editing my first draft of my finished manuscript in early June 2022. So in mid-June 2022, I began querying my first round of agents. I still remember how anxious and nervous I felt as I waited for their responses. And of course, I received my first rejection shortly after. It was definitely a great way to start off the week. But looking back, getting my first agent rejection was a rite of passage so I am thankful towards that particular agent. 

Little did I know, it was the first of many rejections that I was going to be receiving. 

Fast forward four to six weeks later, most of the queries I sent were all rejected or past the time where they would respond to say they were interested. Since I only queried around eight agents at that time, I wasn’t too surprised. But I guess I was still holding onto the silly hope that I would be the one in a million who would get accepted during my first attempt (I have no words about my younger self…even if it was just a year ago). 

After my first batch of queries, everything became a blur. I sent query after query to literary agents, an editor, and even publishing houses. Most of the rejections I got were not personalized so I wasn’t sure what I was doing wrong. I kept on getting no response or the polite rejection of “Thank you for sending over your manuscript, but I don’t think I am the right agent to champion this project. Best of luck” (or something along those lines). 

It hurt. Rejection hurts. It didn’t matter how many times I got rejected, I still felt the pain because a rejection meant that they were not interested in my book. If literary agents (people who are familiar with the publishing industry) are not interested in my book, maybe my story is not as good as I thought it was. I was/am well-aware that there are multiple reasons why an agent might reject a project, but it was easy to let my self-doubt take over logic during my worse days. 

Then one day, I finally got an email from an agent who responded to my query saying that he liked the premise of my story and requested for a synopsis and the first three chapters. I literally couldn’t believe my eyes. An agent finally showed interest in my novel…but my enthusiasm was short-lived when he notified me that some of the plot elements did not work out for him so he would have to pass on this project. I was really bummed but at least that was the first time an agent showed any type of interest in my story.

Long story condensed shorter, as of the Year 2022, I got a total of 56 Agent Rejections, 4 Publishing House Rejections, and 1 Editor Rejection (approximately-it got kinda hard keeping track of every rejection after the 20th one).

That number is not too high, but a grand total of 61 rejections is not little. The only benefit I got from querying so many agents is how I practically knew all the main literary agent companies/some of the publishing houses too. There was a point in my life that it was rare for me not to know of them.

In late October to December 2022, I stopped holding out hope that I will find an agent. I decided to stop querying agents altogether because it was hopeless. 

No agent wanted to champion my story…which was what led me to self-publishing…

Hope this blog was somewhat entertaining to read. As always, thank you for reading! <3