Since completing my third novel (it is the first one I queried with, because no author would ever query their very first novel, right? Right??), I have received over 9 full requests (seeing as how I queried just a little over 60 agents, that's a decent number of full requests).
Each agent has had wonderful things to say about the novel: "creative and awe inspiring", "most imaginative writing I have read in a while", "very talented writer", "amazing detail and incredible world building", "I found myself loving the characters as if they were my own kids", "Please tell me this is a series in the making!", "smart writing", etc., etc., thank you, thank you.
Although their responses back had so many nice things to say, each one of them ultimately turned it down. Not one of them wanted to take a chance on the MS. In EVERY SINGLE case (requesting agents), there wasn't anything wrong with the novel that they put to paper - nothing that involved a R and R or extensive plot changes or character revamping or hair pulling or binge drinking/brownie scarfing/late night red bull fueled editing please stop crying you'll ruin your laptop sessions - they just didn't think it was a fit for them/their agency "at this time".
So my question(s) is/are, why would agent after requesting agent keep turning it down when they seem to like it so much? Am I to assume that the market isn't in a place right now that could support this kind of book (upper MG fantasy) and that is why they ultimately turn it down? I know that agents aren't immune to rejection themselves - it can take them months or even a year or more to find a publisher too - so why wouldn't they want to sign me and gamble with the market in hopes trends will swing or that a publisher will love it as much as they do and buck the whole market trend thing? (BTW - I do NOT/WILL NOT write for market trends - that's what a writer does. I am an author. I write for me and for the stories in my head and that will never stop regardless of all the rejections. Ok, moving on...)
While I appreciate the accolades, I'd like to see this "creative and awe inspiring" book of mine on the shelf!
Any help/insight/agent mind reading would be ever so appreciated!
My first guess, and this is just a guess, is that your upper MG fantasy is well written and wonderful but too much like everything else that's on the market right now. Part of any pitch to an editor is how a book is new and fresh. If the book isn't, well, that's not a book I'm likely to take on.
I don't tell that to writers because there's almost nothing they can do to fix it. And this is a subjective assessment. I don't know if you'll get rep tomorrow and then read MY scathing analysis out loud at a conference someday (or post it on your blog.)
My second guess, and again this is a guess, is that your book doesn't surprise the reader in any way. That's an often overlooked key to any book (and it ties in with my first guess.)
Surprise me in a good way of course, not by having something happen that doesn't make sense.
My third (and most awful) guess is that something is really wrong with the book and no one is telling you. I have been guilty of those kinds of rejections myself. The reason I NEVER put that on paper is that (again) this is a subjective assessment, and my "you gotta be kidding" can be another agent's "gimme that now, I need to sell it right away."
And lest you think I'm exaggerating let me just say I beta read a manuscript that had an offer on it; suggested a pass (which we did) and found out the offering agent was not only a pal of mine, but someone whose taste I admire. And that kind of thing isn't rare.
You've got a problem but my job is finding solutions, not just telling you what's wrong.
Time for some outside eyeballs on this. You don't need a class most likely. You need a good critical eye. This is where you need an editor who has worked for a big publisher, and is now doing freelance consulting. You don't need an edit. You need a beta read. Ask them to read as if they were reading for acquisition, and for notes about why they wouldn't buy it (or maybe they would, in which case, YAY.)
What you're looking for with this beta read is if the reader is surprised at any point in the plot, and if the book feels fresh. If the answers are no and no, well, now you know.