Sunday, August 28, 2005

Yes, rejection isn't fun but....

1. Please don't write to ask me what was wrong, or what you need to do to improve. I delete those emails without answering despite my loathing for such rude behavior. More than once or twice I have tried to "be nice" and help people. It NEVER works out. And I've never taken a project on after rejecting it. What that means to you is you should spend your time querying other agents, not trying to figure out why I didn't like it.

2. Don't write back to thank me for looking at a query. It's my job, you got a form letter, enough already.

3. Don't ask me to refer you to someone else. If I think there's some one else better suited for you, I will suggest it on my own. I don't respond to those emails either.

4. If I do suggest you query an agent, do not ask for his/her email address or contact info. If you can't figure out what it is on your own, you've got a problem. The reason I don't give out email addresses is cause many of us have addresses we use to talk to each other, or colleagues, and different ones for querying.

5. You just have to get over the idea that "it's not right for me" is some sort of comment on the value or quality of your work. It's not. It's only a comment about whether it resonates with me AND whether I can sell it. I pass on really good stuff all the time.


Cocaine Princess said...

Dear Ms. Reid,

Is it possible for a literary agent to dismiss a manuscript based purely on their own personal taste or do they keep an open mind?

Cocaine Princess

Janet Reid said...

I don't take on projects I don't like. I don't call that having a closed mind. I call that being smart about how to do my job.

And why on earth would you want an agent who didn't like your work?

That perplexes me.

bhj said...

I've submitted my manuscript to several publishers, but they have rejected it. Those editors who were kind enough to make comments were very apologetic. They thought my work is excellent and my endorsements are first-rate, but they felt they could not market the book because their readers would think that I am writing ouside my area of expertise. Could an agent help in this situation?

Jewel Allen said...

Mmm, I have emailed back a quick thanks to agents that have replied to my queries (even those who reject). I was just trying to be polite back. Probably better than "Your loss". :-)

Thanks for the insights.

Colette McCormick said...

I've sent my book to 3 agents who all say that they enjoyed it, that I write well etc etc. However they have declined representation because they say that they aren't quite sure where it would fit in the market. Am I wasting my time sending it out to anyone else?
Thanks for the tips.

Unknown said...

I have queried agents and received many rejection letters saying the work was too long. I have since shortened the novel considerably. In your opinion, do you think it would be acceptable now to re-query the same agents who passed because of the length?

Thank you!

Laura said...

question -- if an agent recommends another agent, is it okay to mention the referral and name the referring agent when you follow up with the new agent?

KC Kelly said...

I've been rejected more times than I can count for my debut novel; it's the agent's taste on what they want. When you go to a restaurant, and you tell the waiter you want chicken and he brings you shrimp, do you settle for it? No...same with agents! Writers looking for agents need to have backbone and thick skin because rejection is part of the process; if it's worth it, you'll keep trying.

Unknown said...

Janet, you said:

And why on earth would you want an agent who didn't like your work?

What an excellent question. The fact, of course, is that we wouldn't.

An agent is a salesman/saleswoman. It's extremely difficult to sell a product you don't enjoy and don't believe in (and in the case of Joe Namath and pantyhose, that you don't actually use).

If an agent didn't like your work, or it wasn't a fit for the genre/length/style/quality they were looking for, it would be bad for both agent and client - a lose/lose.

Much better to examine your novel and see that it's the best it can be, that your query is well-written (lots of info on how to make it better here and on QueryShark) and market it to someone better suited for your genre/taste/length/etc.

I'd recommend Writers Market, or AgentQuery.

But get used to rejection. I expect everybody who's published has a drawer full of the slips.

arbraun said...

That's interesting. I heard somebody say at a writer's conference that I should thank someone just for looking at what I wrote. Now I know better.