Rejection Letter from An Agent: If I could answer it now

14 Jan

from inkygirl, click cartoon for link & below

 Rejection: I would lay bet every writer has received at least one. So, there is the “I’m going to keep trying,” and there’s the “I suck so I’m giving up” and there is something in between. Who are you? Having had to SEND rejections through the Rose & Thorn Journal, I know just how close some writers came to that acceptance – and how sometimes we never hear from that writer again, and we wish we would. Then there are writers who just do not fit our journal, and no matter how many times they submit, it may never ever work out between us.

This is a rejection letter I received in 2008 for what would become Tender Graces, a book that I’m receiving great reviews on, just as I am with Sweetie  – my responses are in blue -of course I didn’t send my responses back, because that just isn’t done – but if I could have . . .

Dear Kathryn,

Thank you for sending your material so promptly – I was really looking forward to taking a look at it (you were! Why . . . dang . . . that’s nice to hear). Unfortunately, your project doesn’t seem right for me. Since it’s crucial that you find an agent who will represent you to the best of his or her ability, I’m afraid that I’m going to have to step aside rather than ask to represent your manuscript (Aw, hon, that’s okay – I found a really great group of women publishers and I’m happy! But thanks for taking time to read some of it.).

You have a great imagination – I love the premise and you’re a good writer (thank you! That’s kind of you – in fact, this encourages the hellvetica out of me to keep trying), but I’m sad to say that I just wasn’t passionate enough about this to ask to see more (then we are in agreement – if you aren’t passionate about my work, then you aren’t right for me, either!). I was intrigued by the theme of spirituality and voices of the dead that the protagonist revisits through objects from her childhood life, but I thought the story lacked direction. I think it’s the kind of thing that really is subjective – why some people adore the book on the top of the NYTimes bestseller list, and others don’t (I changed something in the first chapter, just because of your feedback about “direction,” and perhaps that’s what garnered me a contract only a few months after I received your email. Thank you for the feedback – because it turned the corner for my novel).

Just to reiterate, all of these decisions are subjective; another agent and publisher will probably feel differently (Yes, they did, and yes I understand the subjective nature – you really don’t even have to feel apologetic, because this is how the business works. Again, to reiterate my point as well, I wouldn’t want an agent or publisher who wasn’t excited about my work!). I certainly encourage you to continue to seek representation elsewhere (I wish I could offer you some suggested names, but this really is such a subjective business that I’m not sure who it would be right for) (no need for you to suggest, but thanks for being so nice and for the kind offers of help-you could have sent a form letter and you didn’t, for that I’m appreciative), and thank you again for the opportunity to take this on (well, thank you for the time you took with me – I’m sure you are a good agent, but things worked out for me after all  – All the best to you, Kathryn Magendie).

Folks, in most instances, we should never give up. In many instances, we should look at something the agent/publisher has said about our book in their comments and use that to make the book better IF what they are saying makes sense when we look at it objectively and not with emotion- it’s your work, after all. In some instances, we may find we want to take another direction for our novel and try something and someone else. In my instance, I by-passed an agent and went straight to a publisher just because I loved their motto: “Southern Fried Fiction,” and the rest is “my history.” Maybe a rejection will be a springboard to something else: a tighter manuscript, or a different agent, or a small royalty paying press like Bellebooks/Bell Bridge Books, or whatever works for you.

I couldn’t “kill the messenger” – I could have been upset at this agent, but look at the time she took with my letter. And the hint she gave me about “direction” that allowed me to see something in the first part of my book I needed to change. And here I am, three published books later – Tender Graces is a well-loved novel and I’m proud of it.

Have a good weekend, y’all!

Cartoon from : Inkygirl: Daily Diversions for Writers

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