I thought you liked me!

Dear Miss Snark,

I've been reading your blog for a while so I do know that if I assume that my writing doesn't suck then 1) I must follow agents' directions, 2) query widely and 3) not take rejections personally. I understand that publishing is a business so could you give me the business reasons why an agent would reject what is an "engaging novel" with "believable characters" and a "relatable plot". (These quotes are from my various rejections letters.) Isn't that what sells these days?

You cannot parse out the reason for no or you will go crazy.
It's a one way ticket to the loony bin, not to Clooney &Gin and that's not where you want to be.

Keep querying.


Desperate Writer said...

My rejections often include "...doesn't have that certain 'spark' we're looking for..."

I have interpreted this to mean, "We're not sure what we're looking for, but we'll know it when we see it. This isn't it."

Anonymous said...

Your believable characters and relatable plot might be already present in other novels that will hit the market well before yours ever does, thus while your writing doesn't suck and you shouldn't throw in the towel your current project isn't really valuable to agents or publishers.

Anonymous said...

Here is an analogy. I use to work as a car salesman. I worked on a lot with many different brands of both used and new cars. I could never sell anyone a Volvo. There is nothing wrong with Volvos except that I never really liked them. They were not to my taste.

If I had my say the dealership I worked for wouldn't have sold them, because I didn't really believe in the product. The cars are safe, have decent performance, and are not priced outrageously. However, I could come up with tons of other cars I would recommend in their place.

I think literary agents are often in a similar position. There is nothing inherent in your writing that makes it unsalable, however you need to find someone else to do it. There are probably lots of reasons to buy a Volvo, I just don't know what they are so i couldn't do it.

dan said...

Just like you don't buy every book in the bookstore, an agent doesn't either. That's basically what they're doing: buying your book.

By buying, I don't mean that literally, but it's close. They are deciding they love it enough to want to spend money and time on it, and they think (hope?) they can convince the editors they know to buy it, too.

They can't buy every book that comes in; just as you don't read everything. Don't fret. Don't worry. Keep sending it out and work on your next book.

Anonymous said...

Nicely put, Anon No. 2 and Dan.

Author, find encouragement in the fact that these agents took the time to say nice things about your writing. If it sukt, you would have seen nothing but the dreaded "not right for our list" or "not at this time" boilerplate.

angrylil'asiangirl said...

hmm. sounds a bit whiny.

kathie said...

It's incredibly hard not to obsess over these letters. And if there's enough to go on, the feedback can lead to your next (or first) great work. Hang in there, keep writing, send it back out. Whatever, but keep moving ahead with your plans.

Anonymous said...

What you have there is a subjective pass. "This is a good novel, I just don't want to represent it. Personal taste."

Also, what everyone else said. Especially Volvo Guy.