My rule is ten.
Now, before I go into details here, please know that there are no hard and fast rules when it comes to rejection letters. Only guidelines. But here’s why I think ten is a good number.
At ten, you’re getting a message that something isn’t working. Perhaps it’s your query. If the agent or editor has requested a partial and/or full and passed, then you know your manuscript might have problems. Ten is a warning, but not a white surrender flag.
At ten, you can make changes and then either re-submit the manuscript to an agent you really want to work with (assuming they’re okay with that) or branch out to a new agency.
At ten, you haven’t exhausted the list of agents out there whom you might work with. Ten gives you breathing room to submit to new folks after some have passed.
At ten, your inbox isn’t over capacity with messages saying “we don’t want what you wrote.”
Of course, as I noted, this doesn’t work for everyone. In this interview, author and agent Mandy Hubbard talks about how discouraged she got when she hit rejection 20. Nowadays, her book, PRADA AND PREJUDICE, is a huge bestseller. I’ve already blogged about how many great authors received a host of rejection letters, ignored them, and kept going.
Do you have a rule of thumb for rejection letters? What’s your submission process been like?