Hi. I’m Nicole. I’ve written a book. I would sure like to find an agent to represent it. (Simultaneously rips hair from head while praying on bended knee.)
No, actually, it’s not as bad as that. I thought I’d give an update on my journey to what will undoubtedly be the publication of my award-winning middle grade novel.
Of the 40 queries I’ve sent soliciting agents for representation, 15 have been rejected with no request for sample chapters, 4 have been rejected with sample chapters, 1 has been rejected with full manuscript, 3 full manuscripts are still in review. The queries that have not been responded to at all are, as far as I’m concerned, banished to the hinterland of publication hell. That said, in the midst of all the querying, finger crossings, nail biting, marketing scheming, inbox vigil keeping, imaginary computer throwing, and rejection email reading, 1 author remains encouraged.
From what I gather, this is pretty much how it goes. Submit. Wait. Send chapters. Wait. Read rejection. Decide who you’ll be in the face of it. Choose faith, hope and love. Query on. Wait some more. Wash. Rinse. Repeat.
In truth, the rejections are very much rejections, but they aren’t all, you know, horrible. In fact, when the agent chooses to respond with more than (and these will be actual responses):
The form letter:
Thank you very much for giving us the opportunity to read your
submission. We appreciate you considering us for representation of
Unfortunately, after careful review, we have decided that the XXXX Agency
might not be the right agency for this project. This industry is incredibly
subjective, and there are many agencies out there with many different
tastes. It is for this reason that we strongly encourage you to keep
submitting elsewhere, in the hopes of finding an agent who will be an
enthusiastic champion for you and your work.
We apologize for the form letter reply, but the volume of submissions we
receive has finally made it impossible for us to personalize responses
as Ms. XXXXX had for many years. We hope you will understand and forgive us
this necessary efficiency. In addition, we do not feel it is
appropriate to provide detailed editorial feedback on projects
we have decided not to represent.
We wish you all the very best of luck and success with your writing.
Or the one-line “this kinda felt like a waste of my time”:
Thank you so much for letting me take a look at this. I’m sorry to say that it’s not right for me.
You might actually grow from the rejection, like with the . . .
“We really are sorry to say this and wish you all the best, but””
Thank you so much for sending XXXXX Agency your sample pages.
After a careful reading, we are sorry to say that we don’t believe this project is right for our agency.
Because this business is so subjective and opinions vary widely, we recommend that you pursue other agents. After all, it just takes one “yes” to find the right match.
Good luck with all your publishing endeavors.
The personal but “this will sting just a little bit” response:
Hello Nicole, thanks for having sent me a portion of your Charis novel. I’m afraid that although I liked the idea of the novel, and the writing is nice, it just didn’t have that extra special something I look for–which is needed in these very competitive publishing times. So, this will be a pass for me, with regrets. I do hope that soon you’ll find a more enthusiastic agent for your novel.
Or even, dare I say it, be encouraged through the rejection . . .
The “honestly, you should keep trying. It’s not for me but it’s good and, in spite of this rejection, you just might make it yet”:
CHARIS is a gem. It’s absolutely well written with an intriguing hook–who doesn’t love the myth about Pandora’s Box? However, I just don’t think I’m the right agent for this. This is definitely not a reflection on your writing at all, but I just didn’t fall in love with it enough to make an offer. I think that in middle grades, I tend to gravitate more towards contemporary and historical stories set in the real world, with perhaps just a touch of magic. XXXXX XXXX also represents middle grade at our agency, though, and she loves adventure, science fiction, and fantasy stories, so I will pass this on to her and see if it’s a fit. Just fyi, she’s on vacation until July 8th, so she may not get back to us before then.
Thank you for letting me take a look. CHARIS was a pleasure to read and hopefully XXX will think so as well!
Thanks so much for your encouragement and speedy response. If you can offer any further criticisms, I welcome them should you have the time. If not, I totally understand. I wish you the best in finding the project that works best for you.
I honestly can’t think of anything to change. I really think I just prefer middle grades that delve into issues like death, divorce, loss, etc. in a contemporary setting. But I already forwarded CHARIS to XXXX, because I really believe your writing is excellent. I know other agents are reading (and probably loving!) CHARIS, as well, so I have no doubt that you’ll find a champion for your work. I’m sure I’ll see your name on bookshelves soon!
So, there you have it. I’m querying on. Wish me luck, huh?