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Well, at least I’m in good company……


Today, I'd like to talk a little about my Return to Rome (where I’ll again visit Michelangelo’s “Moses.”)

But first, a bit more about the book biz.

After my last post about enduring rejections from prospective literary agents, I’ve plunged back in at the deep end and continued sending out query letters. (Like thousands of novelists, I’m looking for an agent to sell my manuscript.)

At least I know I’m in good company – or, more correctly, at least I know I have a lot of company in rejection!

Literary agent Janet Reid keeps a blog that I like to read, and a while back, she posted some interesting statistics.Out of hundreds of query letters she received from novelists like me, she asked to see only 124 completed manuscripts for possible sales to publishers.

And accepted just 2.

Well, I knew the odds in favour of rejection were extremely high.

And I know I have a lot of great competition.

But, happily, some not great competition as well.

Nathan Bransford, a former literary agent who writes a very fun blog about the business, set out a few examples of why many query letters fail to win an agent’s attention.

Bad writing, of course; spelling errors in the query letter, another no-no.

But my very favourite? Writers who can’t even get his name right.

One even called him Vicky!

As Nathan kindly says, everyone makes mistakes. But screwing up the name and even gender of a potential agent seems like a doozy.

Fortunately, when I begin to despair of publishing, I can turn to trip planning. (Oh, and working on my new novel. But mostly trip planning.)

In June, I’ll be returning to Rome where I've rented an apartment in Monti, a very old area but a new area for me to get to know.

I’ve been in the Monti rione in the past, of course; I met some other Slow Travellers for lunch at a restaurant in the area in January 2008.

But I’ve never stayed there; I don’t have a favourite grocery story or café.



But I think Santa Maria Maggiore will be my neighbourhood church.

Comments (14)

Totally agree with you on the church. Glad to hear you seem to have a healthy and realistic perspective on your foray into writing and publishing! A triptik is just the cure when doubts arise. Are you planning on seeing any Caravaggios on this trip? Some are hard to miss, I know~

Vicky?! That's hilarious. I'm glad you've got trip planning and your new novel to keep you from chewing your nails off. I'm looking forward to the "good news" post when you get the acceptance letter!!!!

Kathy (Trekcapri):

Hi Sandra, I'm glad to hear that you've sent more query letters out. I hope one of those agents will be smart enough to respond. It's amazing how some authors can make such big mistakes when sending out their letters. Not getting the name or gender right is a biggie.

Trip planning is always a fun thing to focus on. I look forward to reading more about your trip. I havent' been to Rome since 2005 and to Venice since 2007 and I've not yet seen Umbria so I will enjoy revisiting and visiting these places through your blog.

Have a wondeful weekend!


Hi menehune, it's odd after so many trips to Rome but I've only visited SM Maggiore once! And something was going on, so I barely saw anything before I was hustled out. This year, I should be able to spend more time there with the mosaics (and of course, I'll have to visit as many Caravaggios as possible!)

Annie, Nathan has a great touch with his blog -- humourous, but not mean. And good advice on trying to pitch a novel. I'd love to know who it was that addressed him as Vicky in a business email. I suppose somewhere in the world there's an agent named Vicky puzzling over why she received an email addressed to Nathan.....


Thanks, Kathy! I hope I don't have to send out 100 query letters before finding a good agent.

But the trip planning is a nice diversion. I see from your blog that you're thinking about where to visit next -- I highly recommend Umbria!


We stayed at a hotel on the Piazza dell'Esquilino. Our room was by the "F" in Fincotex. The location worked out great for us, but I didn't always believe it was worth enduring the early morning buzz of Vespas - but I'd take it again in a heartbeat.


Ah, the buzz of Vespas -- somehow, they hit the most irritating note imaginable!

One of the many, many things I like about the small agency I rent from (owned by a husband and wife team) is that their apartments have doubled-glazed windows.

You must have had wonderful views right over Santa Maria Maggiore.

Santa Maria Maggiore is an amazing church! I was only there once but was in awe. It will be fun to explore a new neighborhood.

My fingers are still crossed for your book. Glad you have better odds than most.

I'm with you on that one - when life becomes a tad to real for comfort escaping into the fantasy of trip planning always makes one happy.

The statue of Moses always fascinates me - I swear those are devil horns on his head!


Thanks Girasoli! I'm intrigued by the idea of getting to know this area better. I'm pretty lazy, really; and inclined to hang around the area where I'm staying -- usually the very centre of Rome, the Piazza Farnese/Trastevere/Pantheon rioni. This will be a good change for me!

Hi Jerry, Michelangelo made Moses look pretty fierce! The only time I've visited this church, which was by accident, I was so surprised to have stumbled across a Michelangelo that I didn't take the time to really hang out and study the guy more closely. This time, I'll bring lots of euros for the light machine!

Shelagh (SJ):

Hi Sandra;
I think you will really like the Monti area.
I stayed on Via Cimarra in 2008, and while that apartment was less than stellar(!); the area was great.
Easy to get around to see everything, and lots or everyday Roman citizens just going about their lives.
Good luck with your book and its future!


Thanks Shelagh for your good wishes and the encouragement re: Monti. I think it's going to be so interesting to stay in a slightly more residential area, among real Romans!

Hi Sandra, I left a comment for you on my blog but in case you don't see it: The "Miss Garnet's Angel" church (Angelo Raffaele) was closed for restoration for several years but it's reopen now and looks fantastic. I was there in November and here are the hours:

8-12, 3-5 Mon-Sat
9-12 Sunday


Thanks very much, Annie -- I'm so glad to hear that it's open again; I'd love to see it. And it must be relatively close to our B+B!

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