10.27.2006

Shown Around or Shown the Door?

Dear Her Magestic Snarktitude, Keeper of all Information,

What does it mean when an agent says, in her rejection letter, that she passed it around the office?

For instance "Agent X read your work with interest, and shared it with a few other agents here. The general consensus in the office is that . . . ." (platitudes, all platitudes, I assure you.)

I've gotten more than one letter like this. Is this shorthand for "don't bug us kid." (and of course by kid, I mean 40 year old housefrau)? Does this mean that I can't query anyone else at that agency?

Thank you for your wisdom.


As you know Miss Snark flies around on her broom, sans colleagues. That does not mean however that she's not hung out in the offices of said colleagues when the mail arrived. More than once, a good letter has arrived, and the person to whom it was addressed said 'nope, not my bailiwick but how about you" and passed it around to the other folks in the office and also me.

Generally it means you don't suck.

Specifically it means this person said no, and probably the other people in the office will too if you queried them cause they've taken a cursory look at it.

Focus on the part of the answer that says "it doesn't suck" cause no one writes "I showed it around" on something so bad they were all laughing it. Those are read aloud if it's a slow news day.

Keep querying. There are four hundred agents in New York. You only need one.

10 comments:

2readornot said...

Hm, is it the same for editors? That's encouraging!

Yasamin said...

wow good to know. crazy how the wording of a letting can mean anything, depending on how you take it.

Dave said...

I received this in a rejection to a short story "We deliberated long over your piece, with much discussion and consideration." I took it to mean that they liked something in the story but didn't accept it.
No editor or agent is going to say "we passed your sillyassed idea around the office and laughed for serveral hours" because that, is impolite (to say the least). They'd simply send the rejection without comment.
So I'd take "I passed it around" as a compliment. Find a reader willing to give a good, hard, honest critique and then listen to them. That's what I did.

BuffySquirrel said...

You fly solo on your broom, you say? Does that mean you're an Independent Literary Agent? If so, I know just the Association you'll want to join!

*ducks*

Elektra said...

I'm all for agonizing over rejection letters, but this one seems a little straightforward, non?

(the) green ray said...

I was under the impression, at least in my experience, that "being passed around" was a very good thing. I was told this not in a rejection, but in a request for more material. I assume the top agent who told me this showed it to his assistant first, and possibly some others. But I always took it as a good thing.

An Aspiring Writer said...

So basically we should be wary of the reply that says, "We read this aloud at our staff meeting?" *LOL*

The Unpretentious Writer said...

There are four hundred agents in New York. You only need one.

For some reason, that really made me smile this morning, right when I needed it.

That's the best thing about a rejection I got recently...something along the lines of, "it really wasn't for me, but your agent could be right around the next corner, keep trying!"

Bren MacDibble said...

But which one of the four hundred?

Two years ago an editor at Tor told me that I was at the stage I should seek an agent between [two numerically-named] streets in New York and yet after two years of sitting back waiting to be head-hunted... nothing.

I mean, even the fishmonger goes to the fish market and picks out the best catches of the day. I think agents are doing it all backwards. I'll be stinky as hell by the time they find me and they'll get some new fresh little fishy and tart it all up with parsley and lemon slices and leave me to turn to turn putrid, liquify and drip onto the market floor to be hosed off into the gutter somewhere taking my over-metaphorications with me!

throckey said...

"There are four hundred agents in New York. You only need one."

How many in Seattle? I mean New York is New York and all but it's kindof out of the loop as far as what's actually going on in the rest of the world.