12.07.2005

Miss Snark reads her tea leaves

Miss Snark,

What sort of rejection notes do you get (and agents in general)? Are they typically just the same "not for us" that writers get? Do editors often/ever ask for a second look after changes? Give suggestions about what their list is looking for, apart from that particular ms? Or is that something you get in the general buzz of talking to editors?


Miss Snark has some doozies. Rejections for books she didn't submit. Rejections for fiction that are non-fiction. Rejections for length in a book that's 75,000 words. Oh yes, Miss Snark has rejections.

Mostly though I'm getting more than "not right for us". Couple reasons for this. First, I know the editors and we have on going relationships. They know I'm not going after them with a hatchet if they tell me the book sux. They know I'm going to get on with things and send them something else they like better.

Second, mostly we've weeded out the really bad fits cause they've said no on the phone. Mostly. There are some editors who say yes to pitches when they don't want the book but you figure out who does that pretty quickly.

Third, a lot of these editors or houses have published books of mine already. I'm a known quantity and they can be (relatively) honest. "We don't think he's going to sell more than 3000 copies and on this book we'd need twice that" isn't something an editor says to an author but you can bet they say it to me.

I don't get rejections if they are willing to look again at a revision. I get an email, or a letter with editorial points. Usually this means redraft and resubmit but I always call and make sure before making my client do it.

And I know what they are looking for generally cause that's my job. The only question is are they looking for something new, and are they looking for this specific project. I spend a lot of time looking at what publishers publish so I know what they like...it's like reading tea leaves but with pages.

4 comments:

Anonymous said...

I'm wondering, how do you (or agents in general) feel about cross-genre novels, say for instance mystery and science fiction? Are they harder to sell? And if you do find one you want to represent, when approaching editors do you emphasize one genre over the other?

I love your blog, btw. Thank you for all your wonderful advice.

Rick said...

Miss Snark has some doozies. Rejections for books she didn't submit. Rejections for fiction that are non-fiction. Rejections for length in a book that's 75,000 words. Oh yes, Miss Snark has rejections.

Between these and some of the queries you get, no wonder you reach for the gin.

snarky little vegemite said...

I was once sent rights person to editor rejection letters/emails when my publisher was shopping around my first novel overseas. Eek! Talk about harsh! I definitely never want to see those again.

Catja (green_knight) said...

Don't know if you've seen the following, but this article illustrates the issue well. Who'd have thunk, agents are human beings, too.

Jennifer Jackson blogging on the very theme