Why You’re Getting Rejections

Why You’re Getting Rejections Awhile back, Nathan Bransford had a terrific post on “Why You Are Receiving Rejections.” He says if you keep getting rejections, it boils down to two reasons: either your query isn’t strong enough, or your query is fine but your project isn’t resonating with agents. So true! He’s nailed it! He’s absolutely right! But I have one thing to add. (Nathan, you’re awesome, I think you’re the coolest, so don’t take this wrong.) There’s another reality that goes beyond your query and your book. It’s the crowded marketplace. It’s the fact that there are hundreds of writers competing for each slot in traditional print publishing. Your query may need work. Your book may need work. OR… Your query and your book might be...
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When No Response Means “No”

When No Response Means “No” Agent Jill Corcoran of the Herman Agency wrote a terrific post on her blog on August 30th: Why I Don’t Send Rejection Letters. With a few minor tweaks (i.e. I have 2 kids and she has 3), I totally could have written that post! Please go read it. Our agency has a policy that if you send a query and you don’t hear back from us in 30 days, you can consider it a “pass” and move on. I’m well aware that writers don’t like this and honestly I don’t like it either, but I’ve had to make choices about how to spend my time. Sending rejection letters had to go to the bottom of the priority list. Sometimes when I’m reading queries and I’m actually sitting at my computer, I do send pass letters. But often (like Jill says in her post),...
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Think YOU Don’t Like Pass Letters?

Think YOU Don’t Like Pass Letters? Neither do I. Here’s a look at some that have hit my inbox: “It’s not clear who the intended audience really is.” “It felt like a class research paper at times.” “I like the plot and hate the execution.” “The setup has so much potential for conflict, yet the story is dull.” “The content and premise just aren’t strong enough to overcome the current lack of platform.” “Even though the writer’s talent is quite evident, it moved a bit slow in the early chapters.” “I found that I wasn’t drawn into the material the way you must have been.” “There is some great stuff in here—the author’s voice, honesty, and firsthand experience. There were, however, concerns about the marketability,...
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Why Agents Don’t Give Reasons with Rejections

“Two Minute Tutorials” Ohmygosh! Another video! And guess what. I decided to name my video series “Two Minute Tutorials” and wouldn’t you know, today’s video is 3 minutes. C’est la vie, as they say. So this installment of ”Two Three Minute Tutorials” answers the question, “Why Don’t Agents Give Reasons with their Rejections?” (I’m trying to get better at this vlogging thing… give me some time. I promise I’ll get better with practice!) Here’s a recap: 1. We get a LOT of queries and it takes quite a bit of time to go through them. 2. Brief explanations of the reason for a query rejection don’t tend to be helpful, and often bring up more questions than answers. 3. You may think it...
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Rejection Isn’t Fun For Us, Either

http://1.bp.blogspot.com/_5cLmD8GqnKY/TMd8DqKd4MI/AAAAAAAAEKg/jXK5qHY3Nys/s200/thewickedwitch.bmp “When am I going to stop feeling so bad about rejecting people?” My husband muted the football game. “What?” “When am I going to get thicker skin? When is it going to get easier for me to tell people no?” Okay, I probably should’ve waited until half-time to get into this conversation. But I’d written a rejection letter that was bothering me. I can’t help it, I often feel bad about the rejections, especially if I’ve taken a special interest in the writer or the project. My compassion for the writer makes saying “no” difficult for me. I wish I could take every writer under my wing and nurture them all the way to publishing-readiness. Alas, it’s impossible. Anyway, hubby had to sit through my agonizing and analyzing. I told him, “I hate ruining...
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You Thought YOUR Rejections Were Tough?

http://www.rachellegardner.com//HLIC/053300e3ac57174002b5942e02c59fcb.jpg Rejection is part of the process of pursuing publishing, and I had to give my share of it at the writers’ conference this weekend. But lest you think rejection ends once you get through the query stage… just wait till you have a published book! Below are some book-reviewer quotes that I found compiled on the Internet. “…it’s rather pop-corny in nature, but it’s good popcorn, not the kind you get six packs for a dollar in a little grocery where no one ever shops.” “…a long dreary tale full of unlikeable people doing pointless things…” “So, although can write breezy dialogue and some amusing observations, the sloppiness and creative bankruptcy of this particular exercise makes it difficult to say...
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The Learning Curve That Never Ends

I was chatting with a friend and she happened to mention a mutual acquaintance of ours, a multi-published author who is widely regarded as an incredible novelist and has several books out. It so happens that this author delivered a manuscript to the publisher, only to have the editor reject it and send the author back to the drawing board. (I think it was for the author’s eighth published book.) Now I know that sounds like your worst nightmare. To finally be a successful author, have multiple contracts, people loving your books… only to have a manuscript outright rejected by the publisher. It can be devastating, and frustrating, and it can make you question a lot of things. I’ve personally been involved in several situations where a popular author’s new manuscript...
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Sometimes It’s Not About Your Book

http://3.bp.blogspot.com/_5cLmD8GqnKY/TDXwq914amI/AAAAAAAAD9k/22R5MfrLQZU/s200/drowning+in+paper.bmp I’ve said this before, but after all the comments on last week’s guest post about rejection, I thought it would bear repeating. Just because you receive a pass letter from an agent, it doesn’t necessarily mean your project wasn’t “good enough.” It doesn’t necessarily mean it didn’t fit the agent. It might not mean it didn’t resonate with the agent or the agent didn’t find it interesting. Sometimes it’s about the numbers. On some level we all have to acknowledge this basic truth. No matter how much I love a project, I’m still looking at it in context of hundreds of others. And looking at the numbers: If I get, say, 400 to 500 queries a month, and I can only say yes to a couple of them, there’s a really good chance...
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The Rejection Ballet

http://1.bp.blogspot.com/_5cLmD8GqnKY/TDUnFZqEN4I/AAAAAAAAD9M/bwe3aoZ2DGI/s200/dan.jpg Last week on the blog we discussed rejection (as we so often do) and reader Daniel Friedman made an interesting comment, which I am reprinting here because I thought it was an unusually matter-of-fact perspective from a writer. Guest Blogger: Daniel Friedman Here is what I have learned during my submission journey, and in my related research: When we’re submitting, we should understand that agents’ form rejection language is a diplomatic way to say no, especially if the response is to an initial query rather than a requested full manuscript. We should try to appreciate the elegance and subtlety of the form rejection, but don’t read too much into it. The agent’s objective is to make us go away. The language will usually be polite enough that, if the author’s...
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Frustrated with your Rejections?

Last week I received a query for a YA story and after taking a quick look, I sent a standard pass letter. I soon received a plea from the writer for me to explain why I passed. I find myself in a difficult spot whenever this happens. I enjoy helping people and steering them in the right direction so they can hopefully find their way in this publishing maze. I think writers deserve helpful feedback, but I just don’t have the time to give personal responses to everyone. One reason agents don’t give reasons for their rejections is that writers tend to want to argue with our reasons. But the more significant issue is the wise use of our time. Our agency receives several hundred submissions each month. If I were to give personalized reasons for every rejection, assuming it takes...
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Guest Blogger: Billy Coffey

http://3.bp.blogspot.com/_5cLmD8GqnKY/S4NGE2u2ZHI/AAAAAAAADms/roPxSTF9cPs/s200/SnowDayCoverMed.jpg “This manuscript of yours that has just come back from another editor is a precious package. Don’t consider it rejected. Consider that you’ve addressed it ‘to the editor who can appreciate my work’ and it has simply come back stamped ‘Not at this address’. Just keep looking for the right address.” – Barbara Kingsolver Writers compare rejection notices like veterans compare war wounds. And that’s appropriate, I think. The two are very similar, evidences of battles not necessarily won or lost or even stalemated, but simply fought. Both begin as a bitter pain that seems unendurable but, with hope and God and perseverance, may become points of pride later. See this? we say. Got that one three years ago. Hurt like hell, too. Doesn’t really bother me much anymore though,...
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Everyone Gets Rejected

[I'm taking a blogging break, so this is an encore presentation of a previous post.]Lately I’ve seen a lot of writer blogs that speak poignantly about the pain of repeated rejections, and how it sometimes makes it hard to stay the course. Why do we keep writing? Why do we stay in this business? If you’ve started submitting your work to agents and/or editors, then you’ve probably joined the ranks of the rejected-and-sometimes-dejected. I just want to tell you one thing from the perspective of an agent and former editor: You’re not alone. All of us have to deal with rejection. As an agent, I field plenty of rejections for my clients. It still sometimes surprises me how much it hurts to get pass letters on my clients’ work. I only represent projects I truly...
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Rejection Stinks

Over the weekend, Janet Reid wrote a blog post called Exclusives STINK. It was great, and I’m unashamedly stealing her wording because I can’t think of a better way to say this. Rejection STINKS. I suppose I could also say Rejection Stings. That’s true, too. I have a whole lot of projects out on submission. Been having some success lately, too, with a few contracts currently pending. But for every “yes” there are a lot of “nos” and sometimes it wears me down. I wade through hundreds of projects to find one I love. I work it over… sometimes a few days’ worth, sometimes I’m been back and forth with the author for a year or more. I carefully choose the editors to whom I’ll submit. Sometimes I talk up the project to editors on...
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Giving Reasons for Rejections

Let’s talk about rejection letters! Lately I’ve been thinking about how writers wish they had a “reason” when agents reject their work. I’ve explained before (ad nauseum) all the reasons we can’t always give reasons. (And by the way, even though my policy states no response = no interest, I still respond to as many queries as possible.) Anyway, last week as I was responding to queries, I decided to try and give a quick reason for each of the projects I was saying “no” to. Not a critique or anything in-depth, just a brief clue as to why the project wasn’t a “yes.” Well, I think a lot of the writers may have ended up feeling worse than if I’d not even tried to give a reason. I found that a “quick” reason can...
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