How many query rejections should one suffer before enough is enough? Is there a magic number? When should you give up on a project?
This isn’t one I can answer. You have to answer it for yourself.
To be sure, there are some finite limitations here. There are only so many reputable agents out there, and that’s further limited by the necessity of finding someone who represents your genre.
But aside from that, it’s up to you. If you are no longer enjoying the process, if your personal life is suffering… maybe it’s time to call it quits.
I’m not someone who says “never give up.” If the process of trying to find an agent is getting you down, if it’s interfering with your happiness, maybe you should shelve your novel to focus on rejoining the world. Maybe put it in a drawer and focus on writing another one that’s even better.
But one thing I tell people who are getting down by the business side of writing is to stop playing the “if only” game.
The “if only” game
The “if only” game goes something like this: “If only” I had an agent I would be happy. Then that inevitably leads to the next step: “if only” I had a publisher I would be happy. “If only” I sold X copies I would be happy. Which leads to “if only” I were a bestseller I would be happy. And so on and so on. Happiness is always just over the horizon.
The only way to be happy in this business is to somehow avoid playing that game and appreciate every step. There’s not a bed of roses waiting for you after every hill.
Try to focus on enjoying each step as much as possible. If it’s not making you happy, then maybe you should put down the pen for the time being. You can always write again another day.
Need help with your book? I’m available for manuscript edits, query critiques, and coaching!
For my best advice, check out my guide to writing a novel (now available in audio) and my guide to publishing a book.
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Art: Ariadne Abandoned by Theseus by Angelika Kauffmann