We’ve all had them, from being completely ignored to a well thought out reply, even the notorious “form rejection”, querying is as much fun as jumping in a swimming pool full of razor blazes and alcohol. But let’s talk about something I don’t think most authors realize, and certainly not the agents. That’s right agents, I’m talking to you. Listen up.

I’m in the middle of querying, and I’ve gotten ignored. I’ve gotten obvious form rejections, and recently, I’ve gotten what I thought was a nice rejection. But it wasn’t. Let me show you:

I have now read your query. I can see the work put into the query and that you have effectively captured the nature of the novel, but I confess that it is not for me. I didn’t love it, and, unfortunately, if I don’t feel that strongly, I’m the wrong agent for the work. Publishing is a notoriously subjective business, and every author needs both an agent and an editor who do love their work. It’s hellishly difficult getting editors to take a look at new authors, so that initial enthusiasm is vital.

FYI, I’ve taken on five writers as clients and turned down well over 4,000, so far… I know it can be as difficult to get an agent as it is to be taken on by a publisher. You just have to keep plugging away. Good luck.

All best wishes for the future.

Yours,
XXX

Ah, what a beautiful letter! So full of kindness and encouragement, but here’s the problem. I took it to heart. I honestly thought I had “effectively captured the narrative of the novel,” and was prepared to review the written query in order to use it as the main backbone for future ones. My first clue this might be a mistake was that I didn’t send this agent any material. How could they possibly know I “captured the narrative” if they never laid eyes on it?

At first I assumed they, knowing far more than I in the biz, were somehow able to deduce this on their own. But just to be sure, I posted this letter on QueryTracker. Guess what? Someone else got exactly the same letter! Hmmm….

This agent wasn’t the only one like that. I had others with the same problem. And I remember, years ago, receiving a letter from an agent informing me that they just didn’t connect with my characters. While that is definitely advice to take to heart in writing and something which should be on the forefront of every manuscript, it was very likely not true. It was probably just another form rejection.

So, dear agent who wrote this, thank you very very much for trying to be nice and encouraging and wonderful but bear in mind, it almost cost me big time. The query I sent you was not my best, and had I used it as such, imagine the consequences. (although to be honest at this point I have no idea what’s best or worst as far as my queries go) Just leave out that little part about effectively capturing, and it’ll be great! And my thanks is most sincere. The last paragraph of chugging away is something I will probably print and mount to keep me going. To hear that from someone such as yourself brings tears from the knowledge of understanding and compassion. Thank you.

And, dear authors, this is a warning to you. Don’t take every rejection to heart. Research to make sure they meant what they said. QueryTracker is a great way to do this. TTFN! And good luck with your querying! You’re going to need it.

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