More on rejections

Dear Miss Snark,

If your oven wasn’t already in use as a file cabinet, I’d be asking to stop by so I could stick my head in and turn on the gas. After the one-millionth rewrite and almost as many rejections, two agents requested my manuscript AFTER reading partials. Such a hopeful sign, but alas, both NO’s. But it was the nature of their comments that has me competing for space in your oven.

The first pass was from a pair of agents who work together. Their comments were all very positive, but they didn’t think the market was large enough for the novel. They did, however, ask me to resubmit my next project.

The second agent passed because she felt the story needed to be told in a far more brutal voice. Because of the nature of the material, I purposely avoided sensationalizing the story.

Who to believe? At this point I am committed to finishing my second novel, a very commercial project, furiously rewriting with the hope of submitting next fall. But I can’t completely shake a nagging doubt that agent #2 is right about my first novel and the first agents were just too kind to tell me my writing sucks.

I’m trying to talk myself into putting the first manuscript away for now, stop submitting and rewriting it and hope that, some day, it finds a good home at a small press where it probably would be most happy.

I really need someone, who is objective, to say, “Stop! Put it away and get on with the next project.” I am so confused.

Thank you for all you have done to help writers like me and please give Killer Yap a big kiss on his furry snout and, of course, a cookie.

Killer Yapp says "excellent idea" and heads for the cookie jar.

One of the ironclad rules of rejection letters is they all say different things. Too long, too short, too violent, too placid. You don't have a large enough sample to draw any reliable conclusions.

And NO agent asks to see future work if they think your writing sux. Never.

You in fact have TWO agents who said something other than "not right for me" and that says to me you're probably a damn fine writer, and it's other things that needs some work.

You're exactly right in what I'm going to tell you: finish the second book. Send it out on a round of queries. THEN look at novel #1 and see (with what you learned from writing #2) what, if anything, you'd chanage.

Quit obsessing. Write well.

Killer Yapp adds "eat cookies".


Anonymous said...

Thanks Miss Snark for pushing me in what I know in my heart is the right direction.

Quick question: Isn't the term "obsessive (unpublished) writer" the height of redundancy? I sure hope so.

Thanks again for your advice - now on with the process of trying to write/publish another bit of tripe.

Anonymous said...

More Clooney news, this time comparing him with Archibald Leach:


Will it never end?

SWILUA said...

mmmm . . . cookies . . . killer yapp has got his priorities straight!

Michael Carr - Veritas Literary said...

Those two comments might be saying the same thing, just in different ways. The second agent might also think that the market isn't big enough for your book, as it is currently written. Had you chosen the so-called brutal voice it might have made the book more commercial and thus satisfied both agencies.

Maggie Stiefvater said...

Maggie adds: eat cookie dough.

Twill said...

"Chanage"? Is that a French word that rhymes with "triage"?

From an objective but uninformed perspective -- since I haven't read the novel -- it's entirely possible that both agents were spot-on. ie, there's not a large market for the novel in its current form, but if it were made more brutal, it might fit into an existing shelf at B&N.

Either way, the obvious answer is Miss Snark's - finish number 2 before spending any further effort on number 1.

Danika Dinsmore said...

The first agent who rejected my full said "Well written, but not for me."

The second said, "interest in fantasy adventure is waning and this doesn't move me enough to get behind it."

The third said, "The main characters' relationship needs to be further developed. I don't care enough about them."

The fourth said "it's perfect the way it is," and offered representation.

Go figure. Just like movies and music, literary taste is subjective.

I don't know why you'd want to stick your head in the oven, however, after someone said nice things about your work and that they'd like you to submit your next project.

I have NEVER heard of an agent saying anything like that just to be nice. They're already overwhelmed with submissions as it is.

I agree with your gut instinct and Ms. Snark, write book number two! You can only become a better writer by writing more.