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Rejection Letters April 23, 2009

Posted by kmcalear in Rejection.
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So several agents have been blogging lately about AgentFail and protecting themselves against the perceived attacks by angry writers-to-be. Nathan Bransford had an interesting “agent for a day” contest where the readers had the chance to read 50 queries, and respond to them. Rachelle Gardner wrote about how she experimented with more personal rejection letters, and Victoria Strauss (not an agent, but a good resource to avoid unsavory agents) blogged about the possible source of such anger against agents, and the “uneven power of agent and author”.

Anyway it got me thinking. I’m with most people, the “we’ll only respond if interested” is frustrating, because of the fact you don’t know if the Monster at the end of this Internet Line ate your query, so there’s a decided uncertainty factor that a form rejection will alleviate.

The written rejection is a little more encouraging, but I do find the “this is a very subjective business” line somewhat annoying, I know how it’s meant but it bugs me. Rachelle Gardner did want to know if her personal rejections were better or worse. My thought is this… most of what she wrote wouldn’t be something that would help me to “fix” my novel, and in a way… I don’t think many agents can actually tell you what to fix in that first pass. After all, we all have books we hated for some reason, and books we loved. Jana, for instance, is mostly indifferent to the Amelia Peabody series, which I have read until it’s tattered and falling apart. So… here’s the sad fact… when an agent tells you “it just didn’t grab them” unfortunately, that’s what it means. Think of all the books you’ve picked up and were able to finish mostly because you paid 7 bucks for it. Now think of the books you read off and on… and then think of the books you stayed up til 5am to finish. How many are there of the 5am catergory? That’s the representation catergory.

It’s daunting, and frustrating. It means the best answer is probably “Luck in Numbers”, you’ll find someone who wants to stay up til 5am to read you, hopefully. Otherwise, start on the next book, if you sell enough, you may get another chance at the others.

And Rachelle Gardner? For what it’s worth, even though I haven’t queried you, thanks for responding to people with a little more insight. Don’t listen to the idiots goofs who take offense to your response, at least you cared enough to give one and in my book that’s pretty good.