Friday, January 30, 2009

Dissecting the Form Rejection Letter

Agents are criticized regularly for the form rejection letters we write. We are told that if any material is requested, a partial or a full, we are obligated to give the writer feedback on why it didn’t work. I have even heard that I shouldn’t waste time on the blog if I’m not willing to give a writer feedback on requested material, and while I can certainly understand a writer’s frustration, what I don’t think many understand is that all too often there really isn’t much feedback to give.

So how can you dissect a form letter and what can you learn from it? Well, let’s look first at the events that got you to the form letter. Presumably before sending along any of your chapters to an agent you started with a query letter. Which means, if the agent requested a partial, the query letter is working for you. It’s well written and the idea is interesting enough to attract an agent’s attention. Good news! That means that step one of your entire submission process is in good shape.

Okay, the second step, you’ve submitted your requested partial and now you’ve gotten a form rejection letter. Since I just read through a stack of requested proposals, the reason I rejected them is fresh in my mind; I didn’t feel enough passion for any of them and that’s ultimately what I’m going to say. With some the writing was good and solid, but the story seemed to be all wrong. With one in particular I tried to think of what to say to the author, but honestly couldn’t come up with anything. The story just didn’t feel right to me. It was slow, but speeding it up wouldn’t be enough of a fix. I’m not sure honestly if it’s the right story. It seems to me that while the idea is interesting, the author went about it in all the wrong way. The characters don’t seem right and neither does the plot. Now of course another agent might love this and be able to sell it, but to me, ultimately, it was just completely off, and unless I have time to run a workshop with this author and shred the manuscript to create something different, I can’t say enough in a letter to give solid advice. All I would end up doing is giving bits and pieces that probably wouldn’t be all that useful.

With another of the proposals I just felt the writing was terrible. The idea had promise, but the writing felt childish and not even close to something that could be published. Is it really fair of me to say that in a letter? And how would I say that? I can say the writing didn’t feel strong enough, but you’ll tell me that’s a form letter. Sure, it sounds form, but it’s true and the letter will probably say that, but it’s not necessarily enough to tell the author how to fix the book because, frankly, I don’t think it’s fixable.

And with another it just fell flat. There was nothing inherently wrong with the book, there was just nothing really right either. In other words, it was boring and not special to me. Again, another agent might very well love it. There was nothing here to tell the author, nothing. The characters were good, the plotting was solid, and the writing was publishable. I just didn’t like it. I didn’t have passion for it.

For me personally, if I have requested a full manuscript I do always or almost always try to give some sort of concrete feedback. It’s easier. I’ve read the partial and know that I like what’s happening thus far, so if I’m rejecting it there are often more specific reasons for doing so. I’m sure that there have been requested fulls that have fallen through the cracks and not received the feedback they deserved, but for the most part you should learn something about why it didn’t work for me.

Giving an author real feedback on a submission is not only time-consuming for us but also can be a risky venture. I know when giving feedback to an author I am opening a dialogue with her, and many times that’s what I’m looking for. I see talent there and want the author to continue to keep me in mind. It also means that many authors will listen to us and only us, and that’s not always right because all agents do honestly have different tastes and opinions and there are many times when the very best thing I can do is just send you back out there to try and find another agent.

Jessica

49 comments:

Anonymous said...

Personally I don't mind the form rejection on partials. I understand not all stories will resonate with all people, and maybe it's just me keeping on my rose colored glasses (lol) but I just chose to believe they passed on me not because my writing doesn't show promise, but because it wasn't the right fit for them.

However, when I get requests for fulls I do like to hear a little bit on why I've been passed over. So far I've been lucky enough to have that happen for me and I gotta say, learning why something gets passed on helps me to focus on problems within the ms I couldn't as the author see.

magolla said...

If you request material, and subsequently reject it, I would hope that you would personalize the 'Dear Author' part of the form rejection, and maybe add the title of the work. Trust me, that would take out some of the sting. At least the author knew you are acknowledging her particular manuscript instead of including her in a mass rejection.

Anonymous said...

Do you see how, for some of us, that what you wrote here would be useful feedback?

Personally, if you, or some other pro, told me "The story just didn't feel right," that would be helpful.

"It seems to me that while the idea is interesting, the author went about it in all the wrong way."

Again, personally, that would get me thinking, brainstorming. Now, it may turn out that I don't make any changes and send the query to the next agent on my list, but there's a damn good chance your comment will be percolating in my brain.

If I receive enough rejections on partials, your one comment may later make all the difference in the world. As in: "Oh! I wonder if this is what Jessica Faust meant. Hmm. I think I'll play around with that idea and see what happens."

"All I would end up doing is giving bits and pieces that probably wouldn’t be all that useful."

You don't know that until you've tried.

Devon Ellington said...

I'm probably crazy, but I'd rather have a form rejection than have an agent suggest changes unless the agent is seriously interested in working with me.

It goes back to finding the soul mate for a particular piece -- needing to date around a bit and find the right chemistry.

I can like and respect someone and yet, that person is still not the right match for a particular piece of work. I'd rather keep trying until I find someone who is passionate about it -- while still learning from submission to submission, and applying it to the next go round.

What irks me is when I get a form rejection that has the wrong name on it or the name of the wrong manuscript in it -- that's happened more than once. If the agent doesn't feel it's a good fit, fine, tell me, but don't call me "Mr. Kale" (getting both name AND gender wrong) or put in the title of something of which I've never heard, much less sent. To me, that's just disrespectful, and, honestly, that place is crossed off my list for further submissions.

selestial-owg said...

At first, when I read this I was upset. "Darn it, if you ask for a partial/full, I want to KNOW something after!" Because, like anonymous poster #2, any feedback would be beneficial to me (like with my critique group, I may not choose to do anything with it, but it is still useful).

However, in a brief discussion with a member of that group, she brought up someone else we know who writes and what their reaction to some of those criticisms would be... let's just say, I get it now. It is a shame that not all people who submit to agents can behave in a professional manner and take constructive criticism in the manner it was meant. However, there are enough that behave like jerks that the avoidance of confrontation is warranted.

Though I do agree with Magolla; a form letter after requested material that was a "Dear Author" letter would hurt more.

Once again, Ms. Faust, thank you for your insights into the other side of the querying madness.

Anonymous said...

Take a deep breath everyone! How many times have we heard and read that this is a business?
A form letter is just that. A form.
Not unlike any other business, publishing is not excempt from the use of form letters. And, how many times have we read that agents receive hundreds (if not thousands) of queries and partials every week? It's possible that the assistant pulls the form up on MS Word and plugs in the wrong name or fails to delete the name on the last letter. It happens all the time.
A rejection form comes to me after partials have been submitted, I file it and go the next agent on my list.
I can't get caught up in the personal reactions every time I get a rejectin with someone who as at the other end of a computer line.

D. Robert Pease said...

After spending many hours on a critique of a MS for one of my crit circle partners, I can totally understand why agents don't give personal rejections. Once I got into the critique, it was either spend hours and truly say what I think, or just gloss over it and write some vague statements, that may or may not be helpful. Sure someone in the profession might be able to write a few sentences that would be really insightful. But I'm still not sure how helpful that would be for most people.

Jennifer McKenzie said...

I don't like form letters, but I will say this. I can't dwell on what an agent didn't say or wouldn't say. I can only go back to the drawing board.
Of late, I've had a similar criticism from several sources. That sent me "back to school" on a technique I needed to incorporate. Luckily for me, there were editors/authors willing to work with me on it.
It is difficult to work in a vacuum. Getting to that request for a full can seem as far away as getting an agent. LOL.
I'm lucky. I have people who tell me what I'm doing right too. That means I might not have it all put together yet, but I am doing SOME things well.
But I think you're right. Comments at that stage might not do anything but confuse. Besides, there's no guarantee that you'd like the changes and, like Devon said, if I totally rewrite the book and you still reject it, that would be really hard.
I will say your form letters are very nice.
Better than the one page photo copied with the word "NO!" in black marker at the top. LOL.

Prairie Chicks Write Romance said...

Just a note for Magolla - having received a rejection on my partial from Jessica,she does personalize the letter and include the title.

And, yeah, it hurts. And is confusing because I really would like to know what it was that didn't resonate with her. But, I understand the process. It would be great to be told which of the reasons stated made her decide against asking for more. It would be great to win the lottery! So, I just keep going, hoping that it was just a wrong fit (as opposed to the "Holy cow, that was bad" reason). When I get to my 100th rejection (Hi, Miss Snark), I'll have me answer. I'll also have a much thicker skin and a greater appreciation for all those new authors publishing their debut novel.

Thanks, Jessica - love your blog!

Janet

Jael said...

The deeper I get into the publishing process, the more I feel "I just didn't love it enough" is the most valid and truest reason anything good gets rejected.

It's most helpful if there's a reason attached -- "I didn't connect emotionally with the characters" or "the plot seemed too slow" or "it didn't keep my interest" -- but if a lack of love is all there is, that's reason enough.

When I was just starting out it sounded like a dodge. It doesn't now. Funny how the same words change meaning over time.

Anonymous said...

I always found that when an agent said, "another agent might love this," it sounded insincere.

Now, I find that when I get the same response from editors (through my agent) it sounds like a kiss-off -- mostly because you can tell the ms was poorly targeted to begin with and their underlying comments are like: WHY did you send this to me??

Suzan Harden said...

My fellow writers,

If there's one piece of advice to take to heart, it's that THERE IS NO MAGIC BULLET TO PUBLISHING.

I think that's what a lot of folks are looking for when they demand feedback from the pros.

In judging RWA contests, I get a taste of what agents and editors go through on an hourly basis. Let's just say I don't envy Jessica her job at times.

I'll have entries that have a neat concept but need a lot of work, but if I tell the writer EVERYTHING I see, I'll only discourage that writer.

On the other hand, I recently judged an entry that if it had been on the bookshelves at B&N, I would have bought it that day. But that's me as reader talking. That's no guarantee that Jessica would love enough to represent it. As an agent, she has a different perspective on the market.

Other times the writing can be technically good and still earns a great score, the story won't grab me, and I wouldn't buy this writer if she did get published. Nothing against that author, but the story wasn't to my taste.

The point my meandering is getting to is I set aside a huge chuck of time to give new writers some honest feedback. Agents and editors simply don't have that luxury.

Anonymous said...

I'm Anon 8:31 and it
seems to me Jessica was saying she was doubtful her feedback would be useful. I'm saying the examples she gave may indeed be useful to the right writer.

Again, I'll use the following example from Jessica: "It seems to me that while the idea is interesting, the author went about it in all the wrong way." Jessica is unsure that this feedback would be useful, so she doesn't include it in her form rejection letter.

I'm saying she should because it may be helpful. Maybe not at that moment, maybe not ever, but maybe later. Keyword is may.

Feedback like that would get me thinking; not necessarily to the point that I make any changes, but it's there in my brain.

After receiving several more rejections to partials, I would start to wonder what I'm doing wrong.

Past feedback could be useful at that point. The same way my critique group is helpful: if enough members say the same thing, there's a very good chance I'll know what needs fixing.

And, *that* is when changes are made.

AC said...

Maybe I haven't been at this long enough, but I don't mind form rejection letters on anything below a full. Agents are busy, and we ought to all realize NOBODY in the whole world thinks our manuscript is as important as we do.

I would be disappointed and more than a little hurt with a form rejection on a full, but below that, it's fine. (although of course feedback is ALWAYS appreciated at any stage). I just remind myself how many great authors out there had to get rejected tons of times before finding the right agent fit.

Thanks for this post--I always love to hear from 'inside the mind' of an agent :)

ryan field said...

A lot has to do with experience...on the writer's part. Once they fully realize how subjective it all is, form rejections don't matter.

lynn said...

This is, quite frankly, a terrifying blog post for those who currently have proposals on submission to BookEnds! Now any writer who receives a rejection for their partial in the next week or so is going to be thinking: which writer am I? This is torture ;)

For writers who are sane, have cultivated thick skins and know submission etiquette, any and all feedback is extremely useful. But unfortunately, agents can't tell whether an author is one of these or a crazy/naive/bitter writer who will lob hate mail back at any agent with the gall to suggest that certain elements of the story or writing are not as strong as they should be.

Honestly, I don't blame agents for form letters at all, even at the partial stage. If there's nothing obvious to say, there's no point in an agent spending valuable time telling authors precisely WHY it's a rejection unless there's some way to easily fix it.

Thanks for your blog, Jessica!

Anonymous said...

Jessica: I see your dilemma, but why not use stock phrasing to indicate various weaknesses in a writer's submission:i.e.'not strong enough' for the writing isn't up to publishable snuff. At least that helps pinpoint a specific area that, in your opinion, is lacking.

Then you can put in your blog what each of your stock phrases stands for.

It's probably not a good suggestion, but I figured I'd get it out there.

Anonymous said...

You are too kind. Writers are at the bottom of the food chain. Most agents don't even send a form rejection. Unless you want to do business with them, you don't owe writers anything.

Anonymous said...

At one time I would have agreed, give me some kind of clue why you didn't like it. Now, however, unless there is an obvious flaw that EVERYONE who reads it will pick out, I feel that opinions should be kept to yourself. What one person doesn't like someone else might love. A brief reason on a full would be okay from an agent, but the author needs to keep in mind that opinions (even agents) vary, and you shouldn't do major changes based on that.

Anonymous said...

Here's why I expect at least some feedback when an agent requests a full: statistics. Agents reject more than 90 percent of queries, right? So they request at best 10 percent of those as partial requests. If they reject 90% of those, it seems to me the number of fulls they request is a manageable number. After all that screening, it just seems courteous to get a reason beyond the stock reject for why the agent is passing. I have had only one agent who requested a full send back a standard reject letter.

Anonymous said...

Anon 11:42--But if they keep opinions to themselves, how are you going to know that everyone finds the same flaw?

Anonymous said...

Agents get hundreds of queries and I understand that they don't have time to respond personally to each one. They also don't want to get into an endless exchange with the writer, "Well, would you like it better if I did A/B/C?"
So virtually all of my rejections have been something on the lines of:
Thank you for sending me this. I'm sorry that I won't be offering you representation. I'm sure other agents will feel differently, and I wish you the best of luck..."
Which could, of course, mean:
a) your book is good, but just not the kind of thing I represent
b) your book is the kind of thing I represent, but I it's not good enough
c) this book is good, but not the kind of thing selling right now, or I wouldn't know how to sell it
d) this book is unbelievably horrible
Since I don't know, I just have to keep the faith...

Anonymous said...

Anon 11:58
I said opinions should be kept to thy self, not obvious flaws. Opinions i.e doesn't move fast enough, theme has been overused, don't like your descriptions, not my type of story, unlikeable characters,etc... These types of things should be decided by the target readers.

Obious flaws i.e. major grammar errors, timeline out of whack, incorrect facts, etc....

Karen Duvall said...

Personally, I preferred form rejections to personal ones when I was querying because the personal feedback was subjective. Sometimes even hurtful, though I doubt the agent intended to hurt my feelings. I have a wonderful agent now, but it took a few tries to find her. And I'm so glad I did. 8^)

Doug said...

Jessica, that was eye-opening. I had never really put myself in your position and thought about what I would do.

I agree if a story doesn't grab you, it just doesn't. There is no amount of advice to change this, rewrite that, modify something else, that will fix it for you. It just wasn't interesting.

Great post.

www.twitter.com/thenextwriter

Anonymous said...

I got feedback from more than one agent with offers to resubmit, so I'm thinking I can add something that may help. If the agent finds the story compelling, she/he will either write or call you with comments & an offer to resubmit. If that doesn't happen, then move on to the next agent and keep moving on until you find someone who connects with your writing. Getting comments back from an agent who doesn't "get" your writing isn't really helpful. In fact you may make changes to a MS only to find the next agent disagrees. Listen to your own inner voice and listen to agents who are excited about your story. And if you don't find anyone interested, set the book aside and work on the next one. After a few months, you may be able to look at the old MS with a fresh perspective and understand why it didn't generate interest. Hope that helps!

beth said...

Personally, I have found the best way for writers to understand the form rejection letter is to read first page or pitch crits like those you've done, or the recent on on Miss Snark's First Victim blog, or the like. After reading fifty or more pitches or first pages, you really do get to the point where you understand what "not right for me" means...

Jessica said...

A form rejection is fine with me on queries and partials. What really annoys me is when agents don't respond at all.

Megan Frampton said...

In most of the rejections I've gotten, I've been lucky (?) enough to get personalized feedback (and one from Jessica, too). But, after all is nicely said and done, it's still a rejection--so while I am happy someone thought I was good enough to get a little more in-depth, it's still a rejection. Turn it around--would you want a personalized rejection or a form 'yes?' I appreciate that agents spend the time at all reading, I would think it's above and beyond to offer critique for someone they have no intention of working with.

Kimber An said...

I don't think agents are or should be obligated to give feedback on partials or fulls, but, goshdarnit, nothing is more frustrating than getting a form rejection letter back on a requested full! Especially if the agent or editor has had it for months and months. To get all that way, spending all that time, expending such extrordinary energy, and end up with zilch...not even one personal word...not even 'What? No blood-sucking dead guys? It'll never sell.' Sigh. Makes me want to take up chicken farming instead. Seriously.

Heather B. Moore said...

I agree with Devon.

I don't really want extra advice that I'm not sure if I should take--what if the next agent feels the opposite? But it would be nice to have a little explanation if a full was requested and read.

Anonymous said...

Of course agents aren't obligated to give feedback, esp if they don't care enough to comment.

If an agent isn't "in love" w/ my story, then s/he doesn't "get it" and I wouldn't want that person representing me anyway. So it works both ways!

But if an interesting ms. has one or two obvious, (easily?) fixable flaws like "main character unsympathetic" or "confusing plot" or "hero too dark" or "too many subplots," agents would do writers a huge favor by jotting that down or mentioning in the rejection.

Only when two different editors gave me the same feedback on my first chapter did I realize it had a problem, and it was fairly easy to revise.

Why not try helping out some promising writers? You may be pleasantly surprised...

Aimless Writer said...

I don't think its your job to explain the rejection. If you do make a more personalizied comment that's great and very appreciated, but still not mandatory.
I've had rejections that are forms and I've had personalized letters. One agent even wrote in the margins of the form letter. All of that was like finding treasure and helped a lot. But form rejections are part of the game and shouldn't be taken personally. Writers need to have a tough skin. I think agents are much too busy and I'd rather you just just keep reading!

Bija Andrew Wright said...

I'm not an agent, but I am a writing teacher, and I know that it takes time to make comments that are helpful, specific and tactful. I don't expect that agents need to do it if they've decided not to represent me--they're not making any profit off it, and if it were my agent I'd want her to be working on the project that's going to make her money--selling my book.

And because agents have limited time and energy, they need to choose their projects. I'm sure sometimes the reason for rejection is just "I didn't choose it." If the agent had boundless time and energy, he or she could take on projects that are simply "not bad."

I think of it this way: a few days ago, I went to Borders, picked up a few books in the store, sampled them, then put them back on the shelf. If the authors of those books had stopped me at the door, and asked me to explain my decision so that they could write the next book in a way that I'd buy it, I wouldn't say, "That book was terrible and I don't think it deserved to be published." I wouldn't say, "I'd probably buy it if you changed the main character to a woman." In all honesty, I'd say, "Sorry, not today." It's right for someone, and maybe it will be right for me if I see it again in a different mood. There was certainly something about it that made me want to have the option to browse the whole thing. But I don't know if I'll have time to read it this week, and I have other reading keeping me busy.

Since agents are trying to predict the behavior of thousands of bookstore shoppers, they kind of have to think the same way. If they feel like putting it back on the shelf, it's possible that most people browsing it will just put it back. They have to trust the impulse to say, "Sorry, not for me, not today."

Vic said...

Feedback is useful, but you can't dwell too much on whether you get it or not. And quite frankly, if you're unprofessional enough to be taking Jessica to task over how much feedback you're getting? You haven't got what it takes to make it yet.

The mark of a true professional is someone who acts with grace in all situations, deals with the consequences and moves on. Work forward and be someone agents and editors want to work with.

The worst outcome for us all would be if those writers who cannot control their rejection-indignation managed to impact on blogs like this; blogs that the rest of us find incredibly interesting and useful.

It's members of the rabid slush pile that created the invention of the form rejection, you know. Don't be one of them. Just don't do it.

Michele Dunaway said...

I decided to do an agent search after my second book came out. I did an agent search (this was long before I met Jessica) and the rejection letter said something scathing about my voice and story, including that my work would never sell. I think I would have prefered a form.

The funny thing is, my editor bought the same book two weeks later and a month after that offered me a continuity book contract for sale #4. So thank God that agent rejected me, even if it was harsh.


So I agree with anonymous 2:27. Glean what you can and never let a rejection become a blocker. Who knows what the next agent or editor might think?

The best strategy is to put the rejection letter aside, pat yourself on the back for being brave and submitting (for there are so many out there that don't and thus never get anywhere) and get back to writing and trying elsewhere. And good luck.

Michele

Nixy Valentine said...

I think the newer a writer is, the more important a *personal* rejection is. After receiving many on various project, all it means is "This isn't the right agent for my project", and not "My project is worthless."

I certainly understand why an agent would not have time to open a dialog with a writer whose project she has no interest in representing.

I got a really good rejection letter once: ""Thank you so much for your query. Unfortunately, this doesn’t sound right for me. I encourage you to continue to submit elsewhere, and I wish you every success in your writing career. Thanks again for thinking of me."

Polite, gentle, encouraging, and yet I wouldn't be surprised to learn it IS a form letter.

I suppose it all depends on the form.

AstonWest said...

My favorite rejection was when the agent sent me a rejection about 3 months after they'd already sent me a rejection on the same submission.

:-)

Margaret Yang said...

If I've said it once, I've said it a hundred times. I love the form! I would rather have the form than the personalized rejection. I have never, ever, learned anything useful from a personal rejection. Once you've heard the word "no," there is no more you need to hear. Form letters are quick, easy and painless.

Alissie said...

I think that giving at least a bit of feedback on a full would be good. Form rejections on partials are understandable, but if you wanted to see the full, there had to be something redeamable and something that didn't quite sell it.

I think that saying that it was well-written and developed but not to your personal taste would be a very kind rejection. At least the author would know that it's a personal taste thing and not something that definetly needs fixing. (If that makes sense...)

Anonymous said...

Jessica,

Your blogs are extremely helpful, and possibly the most helpful advice for publishing books online. I look forward to reading more!

Matt Sinclair said...

As a magazine editor who has come across more than enough examples of writing that "just doesn't do it for me," I completely understand where she's coming from. I've learned that editing other people's work can take longer than re-reporting a story myself, and the same can seem true in fiction (not that a lot of agents are trying to also write novels). A form rejection is fine. But I still cherish a rejection I received for a short story that told me the characters were "wispy" and while the editor saw promise, ultimately she chose not to go with it at that time. A good rejection can be a wonderful boon to a writer.

Stuff said...

When you get a rejection letter, are you supposed to write back to the publisher thanking them for their time? Or does that just annoy them? Any thoughts would be appreciated. Thank you.

Anonymous said...

Wow, there are a lot of different opinions on here, and I read them all!

I think professionalism as a writer is extremely important. I've blogged about this multiple times so new writers can learn. I really hate those people who think their writing is flawless and brilliant. They ruin it for everyone else. Agents should not have to deal with people like this. It sucks, and I feel bad for them.

However, for me, I feel like some writers forget that they are the talent. Without us, agents wouldn't have jobs. We are the ones who work our asses off creating manuscripts that have only the slimmest chances of going anywhere. They are not always good or right for that agent, but still.

On a normal query, a form rejection is fine and appropriate, but no response, in my opinion, is extremely rude. I take offense, and actually think twice before querying these agencies. It takes a lot of time and effort to get all the materials agents want in the way they want with proper formatting etc. I personalize the letter and research the agent. I spend so much of my own time that I feel a form rejection is deserved.

Moving on to partials and fulls. At this stage, I really think an agent should try to say something, anything to the writer.

A lot of people have said this isn't the agent's job. Well...it kind of is. We are the ones looking to essentially "hire" them. We are using their services to market our work.

I love agents. I know they work very hard, and I don't mean this as anything against them! I just feel like writers' time is undervalued because there are so many of us fighting for a single agent's time. In a perfect world, all agents would want to help writers because then we will be more inclined to think of them in the future. But now-a-days, I feel like they don't care because, as someone mentioned, there are a hundred others like me.

I'm so sorry this turned into a 3am rant, I'm just trying to respectfully voice my opinion. I can't change the way things are, but I don't have to like it either.

Also, one quick thing. I got a rejection for an anthology several weeks ago. It was a form letter and it was just fine. However, a few weeks later, I inquired about the special edition and got an incredible personalized response to my story. She explained how this one detail completely turned her off from the story (she misunderstood it, but that's not the point). That helped me so much, and now I want to send more work in to her anthology. She encouraged me to send more work as well. I feel like this more of the type of relationship we need with agents. Her anthology was largely unknown and she wants writers to send work in so she treats me as if I have helped her out by submitting. In a way, I have, because now she has more pieces to chose from. Did that make any sense to anyone else?

In my humble opinion, agents and writers need each other. We both work very hard, and I feel like if I'm putting so much effort in, so should they.

Anonymous said...

I can empathize with agents who have a large load; and I obviously empathize with writers who are putting themselves (and our creations) out there. But honestly, "no thanks" is a really rude rejection from an agent. Such is what I just received.

I wrote a Query exactly as asked (1st paragraph this, 2nd paragraph that, 3rd paragraph the other), wrote well and kindly, included exactly as much of the book as requested and, true!, did NOT include it as an attachment but rather in the body of the letter.

I'm sorry, but "no, thanks" just is rude.

And they want our respect and empathy?

jmartinlibrary said...

This post made me realize that a lot of thought must go into each rejection.

So much vitriol out there is directed at agents, and I don't get it.

The agents I've come in contact seem to be professional and...humane.

For every single one of you out there who take the time to give personal feedback, encouragement, or guidance: I thank you, you are golden.

Sometimes, when an agent rejects, they leave a parting gift: insight.

I'll take it! Thanks...

Actagamut said...

I am always mystified at how people with incredibly long comments remain anonymous. You may have something poignant to say, however without the courtesy of a name, I ignore and wish I could delete. That being said: form letter rejections? Absolutely.

Consider: A well known interior decorator visits your home, you immediately chime off ten reasons why you absolutely love your living area and the interior decorator rebuts with why the room sucks. Would you wish that? Or would you wish to hear a blanched regurgitation? Not to mention, the interior decorator's sister is the one that decorated your space, promising everyone would love it. Do you see my point?

This is a business. Not everyone is meant to be heard: if not by talent, by timing. Submit, submit, submit. What one person loves, another could hate.

I used to be a karaoke host and judged many contests. I understand why specific reasons are not offered. My standard response to the wide-grinned singer that gave their heart and soul but will never, ever be heard (or should be heard) on a professional level was: "While you got the audience involved, it wasn't due to your vocals". That, in itself is abrupt; however, better than saying "You have no business believing that you can sing".

We are all artists and whenever we submit our writing, even to family and friends, we are opening up our world to be changed by the voices of those we trust. What we think is brilliant might be perceived by everyone as trite; adversely, what we think is the suckiest POS, others might herald as the second coming. I just try to remember one thing: Do I write to make everyone happy, or do I write to make myself happy and hope all others fall in line with my personal brand of insanity?

Anonymous said...

I recieved word one of the top selling agents in the world wanted to see my full manuscript,with a reply time of less than four days. He sent me a rejection, without any feed back and the wrong name! I often wonder if he mistaked my submission for something strange and didn't notice he requested it!I dont even know if I should resubmit with the words "Requested" on it.

Denise said...

I have a question in regards to this post. Should I be worried the rejections I've received appear to be form letters? Even rejections received after the agent/editor has read the full ms?