Truth Thursday: Going Along the Publishing Road

The road to publication has been an interesting one for me. When writer friends heard that I was preparing to query my novels fall of 2013, I was told that I should prepare myself for a pile of rejection letters. Just as they told me, as I sent out query letters, the rejection letters rolled in. But my experience with rejection letters was very interesting, and from what I've heard, it was unusual.

There are rumors that say that rejection letters are brutal and impersonal. In my experience, agents do read through queries and sample chapters. There is no reason for them to be personal in their rejection letters with the hundreds of queries they receive a week, sometimes even in a day. Yet I received rejection letters such as the following:

"Thanks for sending along the pages of your manuscript, 'Facades'Truth be told, though, I'm afraid these pages just didn't draw me in as much as I had hoped. I'm pressed for time these days and, what with my reservations about the project, I suspect I wouldn't be the best fit. Thanks so much for contacting me and for giving me this opportunity. It's much appreciated, and I'm sorry to be passing. I wish you the very best of luck in your search for representation."

Among words that I might have expected to hear, I certainly didn't expect an agent to say "I'm sorry to be passing." The above rejection letter was actually one of the first that I received, and didn't destroy my hopes of finding a publishing company. In fact, it made me more motivated to find someone in the publishing business who would be a good fit for my work.

Another interesting thing I found in my rejection letters was compliments. Compliments? Yes. Agents would say they really enjoyed my concept, or even other very kind words such as the ones below.

Thank you so much for sending me your submission. I have carefully considered Surrender for my list, but in the end it just wasn't the right fit for me. There are some powerful words here and I can see the potential, but I didn't feel the pull I would need to be the strongest champion of this book.

I'm going to pass, but wish you all the best and much success in your search for the right agent.

Thank you again,

The above rejection letter is from a well-respected agent. Notice "there are some powerful words here and I can see the potential," and that this agent claims he or she would not be "the strongest champion of this book." Most people will wish an author success in the quest for the "right" agent, but this rejection letter came across as very personal, and once again spurred me to continue my search for someone to work with.

Thank you for sharing your work with me. You write well, but I'm afraid that I just didn't connect with this in the way that I'd hoped.

That said, I'd be happy to hear about any future projects you may have.

Whatever happens, I hope you will continue writing and sending out your work. If you haven't done so already, you may wish to look at The Jeff Herman Guide to Editors, Publishers, and Literary Agents - there, you should be able to find someone who's a better fit for your work.

Again, thank you for sharing this with me. Best of luck with this and future projects.

The above letter reads as very sincere. The simple "you write well" was very encouraging, as well as the agent's attempts to guide me in the direction of being able to find more agents, and even extending an invitation for me to send in more of my future work.

Then there are agents who provide very specific reasons for rejection, such as the one below.

Thank you for submitting SECOND CHANCE, which I've considered but must decline. While this is the type of story I'm certainly interested in, I must admit that I wasn't drawn in by the voice in the opening chapter. It felt, to me, a little heavy-handed -- the opening lines have a lot of setting details and plenty of interiority about the impending suicide, but what should've been a devastating moment didn't quite have the emotional punch it might've had the concept been developed a little more subtly. Of course, voice is a highly subjective aspect of a story, and so other agents will likely feel differently. I wish you the best of luck in finding the right person to represent not just SECOND CHANCE but your career.

With warm regards,

I was able to take this agent's advice and let my work sit for a little bit before I cleaned it up again. And now this is a story that is being published in July. It still hasn't quite reached my head yet, so prepare for a very excited post in the future when it does hit me.

Below is another example of a very personal rejection letter.

Thank you so much for giving me the opportunity to read INDELIBLE.  I am so glad I came across your pitch at PitMad.
While I found Karise's character to be very unique and your premise intriguing, unfortunately, I just didn’t fall in love with the story in a meaningful enough way to think I’d be the best advocate for it. This is just one person’s opinion.  I am sure another agent will feel differently. 
I wish you the best of luck with INDELIBLE and finding representation.
All the best,

Yes, rejection letters are difficult just because they are rejection letters. But many agents have made this process much better than it might have been had they not taken the time to write their rejection letters the way they did, and for that I am very grateful.

Finally, I present you guys with the most "impersonal" rejection letter that I received Even then, I would argue that it could have been written much more brutally, and I was perfectly fine with receiving it.

Dear Author:

Thank you so much for sending the ******** Agency your query. We'd like to apologize for the impersonal nature of this standard rejection letter. On average, we receive nearly 500 email query letters a week and despite that, we do read each and every query letter carefully. Unfortunately, this project is not right for us. 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.

And that is some of my experience with querying and the road to publication! What about your stories? Are you in the process of querying as well, or are you a little further back on the road hoping to get further along later? Share your stories with me!

Look out for more information about updates regarding actual publication in the near future!

1 comment:

  1. I feel the same way you do about rejection letters, and I really think being on Inkpop prepared us for rejection/critiques more than the average author. I'm really happy you found a publisher though!! Can't wait to buy your book!! :)