Here's the situation: My coauthors and I had a 23% request rate from our query letter. I thought this wasn't high enough.
So we hired a (highly recommended) editor to review our entire submissions package and she thought it was so good she changed very little. While this is encouraging, it wasn't really helpful. Our request rate also didn't go up.
So far, many agents have sent us nonform rejects in which they say only positive things (great voice, great plot, unique concept, solid hook, they gasped out loud, they loved specific things), but that it wasn't a good fit for them. Beta readers have also been solidly positive, with some minor edits on pacing we incorporated and little else.
But we've also received a few rejects that say the agents weren't drawn into the narrative as much as they hoped or that they don't emotionally connect to the voice. Two of these rejects came from agents who'd only seen the pages the editor had edited and loved! (I don't know how to edit the first chapter anymore. I just don't.)
So what's wrong? Why don't people want to rep the book?
A handful of people have said it's because it's too diverse (that there should be one minority main character, not four). I've also been told to make the main characters white.
Not only are those people idiots, they should be banished from polite society.
Feel free to quote me.
Feel free to quote me.
It's not, as with your July 12, 2017 post, that it's like other books on the market; the plot is unique, though there are market comps. It's contemporary YA with a criminal justice plot.Advice? Is it the voice and other agents are just saving my feelings when they say the voice is good? I'm thinking of hiring another editor to go over the whole novel (or at least the first pages again), but that's a bit expensive for my budget.
What does it ACTUALLY MEAN when agents say it's "not a perfect fit for them" or they "didn't fall in love," though it's a "great novel" they're sure another agent will want? People keep saying that, but we're not finding that agent who's supposed to love this.And how many full rejects is too many?
Thank you very much! I just need some shark wisdom.
I'm sure it's very frustrating to hear "it's great but no."
What you need to remember is the no one, NO ONE, is going to tell you what the problem is unless they are asking for a revise and resubmit.
They won't for two reasons. First, because if you get notes, you'll "fix what's wrong" then resubmit, even if the agent doesn't want/didn't ask. And the one or two things an agent notes are generally NOT the full scope of the problem.
Second, because agents don't want their rejection letters "this sucketh the almighty lemon" read aloud at a writers' conference, or posted on a bestselling author's neener neener page. Not even thick skinned, healthy ego, I don't give a rat's asterisk what you think, shark.
So, the problem here is that you think it's a given: if the novel is good, you'll get an offer.
What you've left out of the equation is the sales aspect. I see a lot of good novels that I don't think I can sell.
Assuming you're querying agents who sell contemporary YA (versus agents who sell adult NF) why would an agent think this isn't something she can sell? There are four reasons.
1. It doesn't add to the shelf. That is, it's not fresh and new. It's something I've seen before, or it just feels a bit shopworn.
2. It isn't interesting. There are a lot of well-written books I don't want to read anymore: alcoholic love bedraggled detectives who must solve the heroine's terrible travails. Blah blah blah.
3. The market isn't growing. This is when you hear "no more vampires; no more police procedurals; no more medical thrillers. Those books might be on the shelf, and there might be a steady stream of books being published but the audience is not GROWING. Demand is saturated. (Yes, this is why you took econ in college; it's not all dangling participles and Moby Dick at agent school.)
4. Something else is wrong and you don't know it. Agents are now, as a matter of course, stalking potential clients online. What does your social media face tell me? If you look like a douchecanoe, you're up a creek without a paddle. And I'm NEVER going to tell you that.
So, what to do?
You don't need an editor, and you really do not need whatever a publishing consultant is.
You need an agent's eyeballs on your ms, and your query.
You can get this at a writers conference.
You can often get these in charity auctions.
When I see these opportunities, I try to retweet them on Twitter.
Good books don't win the prize more often than you'd think.
In a nutshell, it's the Miss America contest. If you've ever watched the pageant, you've seen each of the young ladies, from Miss Alabama to Miss Wyoming is lovely to behold, accomplished in a skill of some kind, and usually damn articulate.
What's wrong with any of them?
You'd be an idiot to think that.
But only one wins the sash and sceptre. The contest isn't who's accomplished and talented and lovely. It's who is the MOST accomplished and talented and lovely this year, from among these assembled contestants. You might be Miss Idaho. Which is not to say you are Miss Potatohead.