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I’m making headway

November 16, 2010

Well, I’m fully moved in. I hung pictures this morning.
And I’m still getting buried by submissions. As of this morning so far, I have 2901 emails.

I’m working my way through the workload as fast as I can. You might be interested where I am.

I’ve signed 14 people so far.

I’ve read three thousand submissions. I’m working on the next thousand this week.

I’ve got about 75 people on my short list of likely clients so far–I need to pare that list down to about 35.

When I do, I’ll start sending out more acceptances. Then the rejections will come.

I have two book deals currently in negotiations. I have a number of projects that I’m getting ready to send out.

That’s the story so far, professionally.

I’m also starting to feel like myself again. I was EXHAUSTED after the move. I normally sleep six hours a night. The last three weeks, I’ve crashed at 9 PM and slept like the dead until 9 AM. Very atypical for me. Last night I finally stayed up until 11 PM–maybe a sign that I’m nearly through that cloying tiredness.

Once I get caught up, I’ve got notes for a long essay on what makes a manuscript great. But I need to get caught up before I can justify writing it–time wise.

For a short taste of the notes:

Don’t overload the beginning with background information–it kills the pacing.

Start with a strong hook–if you don’t grab the reader on the first page, you won’t sell the book.

The main character must be likeable, gripping, and interesting within the first few pages or you lose the reader.

I’ll get all the notes into English soon and post them. I’ve got pages of this stuff.

67 Comments leave one →
  1. November 16, 2010 6:13 pm

    Hey, I’m impressed you’ve got pictures on the walls. Over two thousand submissions. Makes me wish I’d waited just so I wasn’t part of the crush. ;D

  2. amanda permalink
    November 16, 2010 6:16 pm

    i know a lot of people are really anxious to hear back from you, even just to have the other shoe drop. maybe some of the way obvious ‘nope, not for me’ rejects could go out sooner rather than later?

    • Denise Little permalink*
      November 16, 2010 6:29 pm

      Rejections R us, huh?

      Okay. I’ll mix things up.


      • amanda permalink
        November 16, 2010 6:30 pm

        hehehehe…prolly just brought a world of hurt down on my head. πŸ™‚

      • Chad permalink
        November 16, 2010 8:49 pm

        Thank you for the update on where things stand with the flood of emails you’re getting and will continue to get in as the days move forward. It’s even better to read you’re getting some deals set up as well for publication. Talk about hitting the ground running.

        I guess the only think I’ve been confused about in your updates is the mention of submissions. Are you counting simple query letters as submissions or are you talking about actual works, either in partial or full form, that you’ve been working through.

        Obviously, I’m asking because I’m one of those authors who sent in a query a while back and have not heard anything back yet and so was trying to “read the tea leaves” as it where with your posts as to the status of things.

        Am I right in reading that you have not sent out rejections to anything yet but will be doing so for all email queries and submissions soon? Any light you can pass my way on this matter would be helpful in getting a better glimpse of where I might be at and allows for future planning, etc.

        Thank you for your time.

        Thank you, though, for posting your updates. They are very helpful and your site has some great info on it that can really benefit authors through the whole process of publication, and beyond.

      • Denise Little permalink*
        November 16, 2010 10:12 pm

        I haven’t sent out rejections or approvals yet.

        I’m trying to get to the bottom of the pile.

        I’m sorting manuscripts as I read, so everybody should get a letter that will help them improve.

    • Christina Hufford permalink
      November 16, 2010 8:05 pm

      @Amanda: Quiet you! I’d like to maintain my delusion that I’m one of those 75 for as long as possible. πŸ˜›

      • amanda permalink
        November 16, 2010 10:15 pm

        LOL! sorry!!!!

  3. November 16, 2010 6:18 pm

    I’m with Victoria.

    But picture hanging is a good sign. It makes it feel like home.

  4. November 16, 2010 6:34 pm

    3000 submissions read?

    That loud sound from the north-east was my jaw hitting the floor.

    And I am congrats on hanging the pictures! Six years, and half my art is still on the floor… πŸ™‚

    • Denise Little permalink*
      November 16, 2010 6:41 pm

      I don’t have to read all of a book–some things I can reject very fast. Horrible, is easy to spot. But I haven’t been getting many horrrible submissions.

      I had to read at least half of over a thousand.

      Which says a lot about the quality of submission I’m getting.

      It also explains why I haven’t had time to blog.


      • November 16, 2010 7:38 pm

        Still, even if you just glanced at the first paragraph, the logistics of all those submissions… wow. I’m in awe.

        I figured you were swamped (and therefore not blogging), but glad you took the time to update us.

        Good luck on the deals! How exciting for you and your clients!

      • Chris Eberle permalink
        November 16, 2010 8:00 pm

        Glad to hear you’re finally moved in and you’re making the place yours. But I gotta admit I’ll feel alot better when the waiting is over with-at least I’ll know one way or the other. Whether I got it as a writer or not. And I’m better everyone else knows what I’m talking about. Congrats to those that made and here’s hoping I’ll be with you lucky folks.

  5. Andrew Cooper permalink
    November 16, 2010 6:41 pm

    You needed that sleep! And deserved it.

    Have you alerted the people who are on the shortlist? Just a-wondering!


  6. Katie Guzman permalink
    November 16, 2010 6:43 pm

    Good Gravy Girl! I thought I was a good multitasker, but you are amazing! 3,000 is NUTS! My fingers are crossed just the same that it wont’ be the Rejections R’Us Christmas list for me. LOL!

    I’m just now packing up my house to move in the next two weeks and have no intentions of unpacking stuff for a while once I’m moved! Keep up the momentum, makes me feel inspired just a little bit more to get off this stupid computer and go pack!

    Happy Tuesday!


  7. November 16, 2010 6:50 pm

    Absolutely amazing! Any writer will be honored to have you as an agent. So many agents complain and grow pessimistic by the workload. You are a true gem in the industry, and others should take notice. It’s no mystery why so many of us chose to query you. If by chance I receive a rejection, no doubt I will query you for future projects.

    Thanks for the update!

  8. Noelle Pierce permalink
    November 16, 2010 7:04 pm

    *How many emails?!?!* I’m with Victoria, wishing I hadn’t added to that mess. I could have waited. *sigh*

    Congrats on getting the pictures hung! I’ve lived in my house for three years and still haven’t hung everything.

    Between the move and the professional stuff, you’re amazing! Good luck with the book deals and offers!

    (I promise, that is the last of my exclamation marks. I’ve hit my quota for the week.)

  9. Angela permalink
    November 16, 2010 7:14 pm

    Gulp! I see a rewrite in my future- I think I committed at least two out of the three manuscript sins you mentioned!! Oh well, better to discover it now than later.

    Whichever way the wind blows, I too just want to say thank you for giving us all a chance. A little bit of hope goes a long way when you’re a writer!

  10. November 16, 2010 7:15 pm

    Well, no matter what the consensus over on is we’re all just lucky that you spend so much time giving *everyone* a chance. I think we all agree that we appreciate the time and effort you’re putting in, it means a lot.

    • November 17, 2010 4:08 pm

      Okay, I left out a comma and that read incorrectly, my mistake. It needs to read that “no matter what, the concensenus is…” I had to clarify because my mistake upset people over on querytracker and rightfully so considering how that sounded originally. Sorry for the confusion, posting from a phone is not always my friend. :-/

  11. Jennie Posthumus permalink
    November 16, 2010 7:16 pm

    I’m with Amanda. I’d rather get the “sorry, not for me” email than keep waiting…and waiting… and waiting…

    Of course, I’ve already figured I’d be getting a rejection, since I was one of those who forgot to include phone number and mailing address, lol. (Pessimistic? Just a little! *wink*)

    Congrats on moving in, hanging pictures, and making your home *yours*!!!!

    • Noah Beit-Aharon permalink
      November 17, 2010 7:20 pm

      No! No! I’ve sent over a hundred queries since March, and haven’t ever received so much as a detailed rejection yet! I’d much rather the longer wait than to have to wonder what I’ve done wrong, without any guidance about how to revise. Denise, I appreciate your incredible effort and generosity! Don’t stop!

      Victoria, I’d be surprised if the submission crush *ever* ends. Let’s just thank our lucky stars that we queried Denise before she decided she liked having free time and gave up on requesting fulls.

      Wow, that’s more of a downer than it was meant to be.

  12. EEG permalink
    November 16, 2010 7:29 pm

    Any chance the 75 will get a prettier rejection since they were so close? πŸ™‚

    • Denise Little permalink*
      November 16, 2010 10:07 pm

      Of course.


  13. EEG permalink
    November 16, 2010 7:30 pm

    Sorry, I meant the 40 out of 75 who won’t get an offer….

  14. Christina Hufford permalink
    November 16, 2010 7:51 pm

    Nearly 3,000 emails! If I have 10 in my box I’m overwhelmed, and most of those are Old Navy advertisements. I actually knew someone once who received an email for every comment of an online post that got something like 10,000 comments in under a few hours — Gmail emailed her personally and said she was bringing the whole site down.

    I’m definitely guilty of too much backstory in the beginning. I think it’s because when you first sit down to write the story, you feel like YOU need to know it, even though the reader doesn’t. Then apparently you don’t bother editing it out. :\

  15. November 16, 2010 8:08 pm

    I figured the radio silence was a good sign. Well done getting through so much and with some tangible success in the works to validate the investment of sweat and blood. Looking forward to hearing from and hopefully, working with you.

    -tips hat-


  16. November 16, 2010 8:08 pm

    Thanks for the update, Denise.

  17. Kathryn Patten permalink
    November 16, 2010 8:31 pm

    Thanks for the update, Denise. With all those emails and all the reading you’ve got waiting, I’m amazed that you find time for anything at all! You’ve got pictures on the wall and I’m taking all of mine off. Will be moving at the end of the month and still waiting for my fairy godmother to show up and help πŸ™‚

  18. November 16, 2010 8:52 pm

    Can I be one of the 35? Please and thank you πŸ™‚

  19. Michelle permalink
    November 16, 2010 9:08 pm

    OMG! 14 clients already and 2 book deal negotiations. I bet Ellenberg is patting himself on the back for bringing you in. Hope I’m lucky enough to brag about having you as my agent.

  20. November 16, 2010 9:36 pm

    Hello Denise

    Thank you for the comments on your progress. I am passionate about my writing and willing to make changes in my manuscript to make my book stronger. I look forward to reading your essay.

  21. November 16, 2010 10:15 pm

    –I’m sorting manuscripts as I read, so everybody should get a letter that will help them improve.

    Denise, you are a marvel. Thank you!!!

    • EEG permalink
      November 16, 2010 10:30 pm

      Yes — a rejection that helps to improve is a pot of gold — Thank you!!

  22. November 16, 2010 10:35 pm

    Denise, Kindly indicate whether you would be A) morally offended or B) somewhat swayed by any of the following: bribery, groveling or light pleading with the occasional gift sent for good measure.
    Thanks so much for the update. : )

  23. November 17, 2010 12:22 am

    3,000 queries! Wow! I am in total awe and so very grateful (as mine is one of them) that you’re planning to read them all.
    For even if you give each query six minutes top and read ten hours a day straight, it will take you 30 days to finish.
    And, you will not be finished because, by the time you finish this batch, you will already have another 30 days of e-mail waiting for you.
    Really, how do you do it?
    And thank you.

  24. Emil permalink
    November 17, 2010 12:40 am

    Carmen-six minutes per query is way too long. Agents usually decide in much less time. 30 seconds, maybe faster, if it’s not a genre they rep.

    Denise, I just wanted to ask you. I don’t know what the procedure is regarding this, so… Since I submitted to you (The Apple of Her Eye) in September (the 19th, I believe) I’ve finished another novel (a young adult contemporary.) I think it’s my strongest effort thus far. I’m thinking of starting the query process for that novel soon, but would very much prefer to work with an agent who wanted to rep both my books (as opposed to just one.) Should I just query the new novel and let you know if I get an offer?

    • November 17, 2010 12:49 am


      I know. They need only 30 seconds to reject a ‘horrible’ ms. But what if they are interested?

      And as Denise said before (see below) she is liking many of them.

      Denise Little permalink*
      November 16, 2010 6:41 pm

      I don’t have to read all of a book–some things I can reject very fast. Horrible, is easy to spot. But I haven’t been getting many horrrible submissions.

      I had to read at least half of over a thousand.

  25. November 17, 2010 12:55 am

    You really are wonder-woman! Congrats on getting all settled in your new place. πŸ™‚

    I’m inclined to agree with what some others have said — sending out the definite ‘no’s might help some people from going stir-crazy with the wait, and let others know if they might still be in the running. Of course, if it’s *easier* for you to do all the rejects last… then whatever helps you get through the mountain of submissions!

  26. November 17, 2010 1:04 am

    I must say Denise, you deserve mega kuddos on all you’re doing. Moving, taking on so many queries, emails, MS etc. You have my highest respect, that’s for certain. Fingers crossed I get one of the good emails from you. Happy as all get out you are having such great stories provided to you.

    For now, back to NaNo and my new Supernatural Horror/Thriller novel I’m writing. Something very theraputic about finding ways for people to die. πŸ™‚

  27. Emil permalink
    November 17, 2010 1:11 am


    it seems we’re talking about different things.

    You said,

    “For even if you give each query six minutes top and read ten hours a day straight, it will take you 30 days to finish.”

    A query is simply the very short description of your novel that you send an agent, on the basis of which, the agent decides whether he/she wants to see your submission or not. As for the manuscripts themselves. Don’t ask me how she’s doing it, because I have no idea!

  28. November 17, 2010 1:40 am


    Thanks so much for giving everyone a heads up on your status. You know we have all been sitting on pins and needles waiting to hear from you. Don’t fret, you are worth the wait! I have decided at this point that if we have not heard from you then you have not gotten to our manuscript in the pile yet, but it sounds like that might not be the case.

    Congrats on signing 14 people all ready, and two book deals in the works.
    Sounds like it will be about two more weeks before the majority of us hears from you about that other shoe dropping or taking out the champagne. Sometime after Thanksgiving, does that sound about right?

  29. November 17, 2010 2:24 am

    Thanks for taking the time to post this update.

    You’re handling an incredible number of queries and submissions. I think you’re giving us more insight into the agents who finally give up responding to everyone and become “no response means no” agents. Of course, an agent’s first responsibility is to his/her existing clients, and we can’t realistically complain when they spend the bulk of their time on their clients’ work, not on queries.

  30. November 17, 2010 2:45 am

    Wow! If I had half as much energy and enthusiasm for my homework as you do for submissions, I’d have a 4.0. My professors would be very happy people lol. I’m a good English major, but if I did that, I’d be the next Hemingway. I envy your dedication. I wish I had that kind of energy for NaNo too. πŸ˜‰

  31. November 17, 2010 4:00 am

    Despite how hard your work sounds, I have to say I envy you. I can imagine how thrilling it must be to dig through that pile, knowing there’s unseen treasure to be found. It gives me chills just to think of what it might be like to discover that one amazing novel that you can’t put down–then immediately turn around and have a chance to find another. It’s like tunneling into a cave to find the Holy Grail… and then you find Noah’s Ark as soon as you walk into the next room.

    In your place, I think I’d be giggling like a madwoman every time I put a MS in the ‘maybe so’ pile.

    Anyway, thanks for the update. I don’t know about anyone else, but I was worried whether you’d gotten trapped under a pile of books. It’s good to know you’ve only been buried under a mountain of potential. πŸ˜€

  32. November 17, 2010 8:36 am

    Hello and thanks for providing so much feedback. I’m wondering if I can ask a question here. I’ve read everything I can find, listened to RWA conference tapes for 2008-10 and can’t find out for certain if “Romantic Suspense” is worth querying on at your agency. I listened Mr. Ellenberg refer to it as a dead genre somewhere in 2009 conference recordings and saw only romance and mystery as separate genres you may be interested in seeing…

    Anything you can share would be great (and may cut down future queries)
    Many thanks
    Vicki Leondas (Australia)

  33. Connie permalink
    November 17, 2010 12:00 pm

    Thanks so much for the update. It’s makes the waiting easier.

  34. cookiemomma permalink
    November 17, 2010 2:07 pm

    Glad that you are finally starting to feel like yourself again. I was thinking that I was special, but wow so many awaiting to hear from you. lol Best of luck getting through those. πŸ™‚

  35. Danielle DeVor permalink
    November 17, 2010 2:51 pm


    Thanks for the update.

    I just wanted to say that I hope in the middle of all this craziness, you are taking some time out for yourself. And thank you in advance for any comments on my manuscript whether they be good or bad.

  36. November 17, 2010 5:35 pm

    I think I was also one of those people with only an email adresss and no contact info. on my manuscript. If I happen to be one of the thirty-five lucky prize winners, well, then you have my contact info. here. I can’t imagine trying to wade through that sludge of emails.

  37. Sara B permalink
    November 17, 2010 6:09 pm

    Ms. Little,

    I’m seeing a lot of posts here form people who submitted at least a portion of their manuscript with their query letter. According to your submission guidelines (at least the way I understood them), it appears as though you initally only want a query letter. Therefore, all I submitted to you was a query letter. My question is, do you base your opinion on whether or not to reject a query based upon the query letter solely or both the letter and the manuscript? If one has submitted just a query letter to you, should they re-query you with the manuscript?

  38. Keith Yatsuhashi permalink
    November 17, 2010 6:09 pm


    Congratulations on settling in! And good luck getting through everything. My revised MS is somewhere in that massive pile πŸ™‚


  39. Charlie Holmberg permalink
    November 17, 2010 9:25 pm

    Wow. That’s amazing. So many emails, so much to do! I don’t envy your job right now. Good luck with the workload!

  40. November 17, 2010 9:42 pm

    Hi Denise,
    Thanks for the update. As one of the people that you requested a full manuscript from, I am a bundle of nerves. So knowing where you are in the “pile” and what the game plan is, helps reduce the stress, (a tiny tiny bit) πŸ™‚

    Good luck with it all,


    • Chris Eberle permalink
      November 18, 2010 8:47 pm

      I know how you feel about the nerves Paul. Denise requested my manuscript back in Sept. Did you ask Denise ‘where you’re located?’

  41. November 17, 2010 10:29 pm

    Hanging up pictures is my favorite part of moving into a new place. Congratulations on your amazing progress! Unpacked and read that many manuscripts. yikes, busy busy.

  42. amanda permalink
    November 22, 2010 10:45 pm

    any closer to hearing anything, denise? the waiting is quite literally killing me, i think.

    • Jennie permalink
      November 25, 2010 6:58 pm

      I think I found a cure for the waiting: crafts and figuring out ways to cut the cost on stuff for my & my co-writer’s wedding in 2012.

      Though… if I keep checking the blog, does that mean I’m not as distracted as much as I think I am? I’m not a stalker… honest!!! πŸ˜‰

      Hope everyone had a wonderful, fun-filled Thanksgiving!!!!

      • amanda permalink
        November 27, 2010 10:43 pm

        lol…i have been crafting a lot. i’ve crocheted three blankets. πŸ™‚ it’s something to do (and it keeps the dachshund warm) but it’s not the same as hearing victory bells. πŸ˜€

  43. Laura Fine permalink
    November 24, 2010 1:28 am

    Is your short list of potential clients comprised of material you requested? Or are there some manuscripts you’re interested in seeing from the sample pages?

  44. Lana permalink
    November 25, 2010 3:20 pm


  45. November 25, 2010 3:26 pm

    Happy Thanksgiving, Denise, and to all my fellow writers patiently awaiting her reply.

  46. November 25, 2010 7:16 pm

    Hello Denise

    I want to wish you and yours and everyone a Happy Thanksgiving. I am cooking a 20-pound turkey with all of the trimmings. Think of all of the extra dinners I will enjoy and midnight sandwiches (while working on my sequel).

  47. Lucy permalink
    November 26, 2010 8:46 pm

    Aw, good luck going through all of those submissions! And a Happy Late Thanksgiving, too!

  48. December 1, 2010 3:00 am

    Hi Denise,

    When you send out acceptances and rejections are you going to let us know if we were in that initial 75 that you’re cutting down? I know if I got a rejection, I’d want to know if I had been close to making it.

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