Thursday, March 13, 2008

Rejections Are A Hint

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Dear Rejecter:

My first novel has received several detailed, flattering rejections from some of New York's top agents. They say the story is well-plotted, deftly written, poignant, a hell of a read, has memorable characters and I'm evidently enormously talented as well as gifted. However — and there's always a however or a but or a sorry — none of these agents has offered representation, citing the crowded and difficult fiction market. I sympathize with their plight, but what am I to do? My query letter works, my novel works, yet I can't get an agent. Help!


I think everyone who's spent any time reading this blog knows what I'm going to say here, which is that clearly this person's novel doesn't work. If it did, the many, many people who are paid by their ability to valuate novels for their potential quality would have replied positively. The query letter might be bad and the novel is probably bad too. Write another one.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

The Job Market

Well, the job market is just terrible right now in publishing, and though I am still employed, I seek more employment. Until that happens, does anyone mind if I put up some banner ads? I'm not trying to become an internet millionaire here, but I'd like to pay the electricity bill.

Or if you want to employ The Rejector for your publishing-related purposes, you probably grasp from this blog that I have some sense of the industry and experience in it, can do some editing (I'm better at other people's work than my own words), and have an MFA in Fiction. Email me. I will not grant interviews that involve the words "abandoned" or "alley."

Submitting Again

Dear Rejecter,

I'm in a bit of a quandary and a little confused. I started submitting my first novel about five years ago and received several requests for partials/fulls and even managed to option the film rights (alas a no go.) Everybody passed, so back to the old drawing board to rewrite with the help of a writing coach since I had no idea how to write a novel. Resubmitted to some of the agents who had requested additional material and again all passes. (I still had a lot to learn about characterization and I may still have a lot to learn. Hope not.)

Fast forward three years, a partially completed second novel and a complete reworking of first novel and I learn that an agent who is a partner to one of the aforementioned agents (who was kind enough to take a look at my first rewrite and then passed again) is looking for material in a category that might encompass my first novel. She requests a partial after getting my query and then . . . silence. Three months later, after a polite inquiry. More silence.

Apparently I have violated some unwritten code of ethics. (Their agency website does not address this issue nor state outright that a "No" from one agent means a "No" from all agents. Because so much time had passed -- almost three years -- and the material was so different and re-titled, I assumed it would be viewed as something new. It appears I was wrong. But I'm not sure.) I've never read anything on a writer's blog about the appropriateness of submitting to a different agent in an agency after requested material is declined.

I am getting ready to send out queries on my second novel which is in an entirely different genre from the first and which is best suited to the first agent from the agency in question and now I don't know what to do. They would have been on the top of my list. Now I'm wondering if I should cross them off all together. I would have liked to work with them, assuming, of course, my second novel is publishable. Yes, I know. Lots of fish in the sea. But . . .Any advice?

So I'm a bit confused myself, as to why you think you violated a code of ethics because you didn't get a response. Sometimes agents don't respond. It's not very professional but agents are busy. It's nothing to take personally.

Here are some handy rules that other agent blogs will surely disagree with me on:

(1) It is generally considered OK to query other agents in the same group. Just don't do them all at once and have the letters arrive on the same day, as it looks sort of tacky.

(2) If you're resubmitting a manuscript, chances are the agent will recognize if they read the whole thing both times. We have long memories for plotlines and writing styles. And there was probably a valid reason we rejected you the first time, so don't be surprised if we do it a second time. Sometimes the reason is "well, I just don't like the story" or "I'm just bored by the writing" and not "I had a problem with this scene and some of the grammar."

Every once in a while we have to go through the "Have we seen this query letter/manuscript?" game, and we don't like the game very much. Mention that it's a re-submission. Emphasize your revisions. It's worth a shot. Then try some other agencies.

(3) If it is a totally new manuscript that you are submitting to an agent who rejected a manuscript like 5 years ago, you can resubmit with no mention of a former submission. We don't care.