Always a bridesmaid...never a bride - well, kind of.
Profile of Bachelorette Number God-Knows-How-Many: once-agented, never shopped, Malice Domestic Grant-winner in the last round of editorial consideration with Poisoned Pen Press, CWA Debut Dagger short-listed, "fine writer," "ready for prime-time," "unique," "distinctive voice," Most Requested Partials and Fulls of 2004 and 2005 (if there were such a prize), probably rejected by Miss Snark herself...
...and yet, agentless. There are so many agents in love with my work. Still, I can't count anymore how many have said "It's the market - so sorry." I'm rather tired of pastel chiffon and jewel-tone satin. What's it take to get to wear the veil?
They aren't in love with your work. Agents are a moneygrubbing lot. We only really love what we think we can sell. Not that we're ever going to tell you that, particularly if we're saying no.
Good writing sells. Almost good writing or writing that is good but like the last six novels I've read won't.
Agents are not in the business of saying that. They'll step on their tongues first.
Why? Cause you're going to get better, get published, and you will remember every rejection you ever got. Trust me on this. I have a stack of those "neener neener, coulda had me" letters.
I encourage you to get tough on your writing. If you can't see what's holding you back, go read 50 novels in your area. 50 FRONTLIST novels, i.e. things published this year and preferably in the last six months. How to find those books? Go to your library. Ask to see the last six months of Publishers Weekly. Look in the back under Reviews. Make a list of every book published and then request it from the library. If the kind of book you write isn't reviewed in Publishers Weekly, go to the website of publishers who do that kind of book and look up what they've published this year. Request from your library.
If your library doesn't have or can't get these books, consider a membership at the Mercantile Library of New York. You have to pay to join but they will buy any book a member requests I'm told. They specialize in fiction.
I've given this advice before and I hear wails of dismay "all I want to do is be a writer". You can be just a writer all you want, but if you want to be in the business of writing, and be a published writer, you have to invest some time in doing other things like a focused reading list.
I get a lot of queries and pages that are good. They just don't pique my interest cause there's nothing fresh and new. I won't say anyone can write a novel, cause that's so not true, but of those who can write a good novel, only a few can write something fresh and original. That's your challenge. Rise to it.