But They Missed the Point!

Sometimes rejection letters reveal that the reviewer may have missed the point of an author’s proposal.

Upon rejecting a novel:

Dear Author:

Thank you for your submission. However, we are not seeking memoirs at this time.

Or, upon rejecting a book of satire:

Dear Esteemed Academic:

Thank you for allowing us to review your dissertation on the merits of Hades. However, in October, we have plans to publish “Sheol” by recognized authority S. A. Tan so we will decline your submission with regret.

The misunderstood author wants to (and just might) scream, “NOOOOOO!!!!!”

A maligned writer’s first impulse may be to type:

Dear Clueless Reviewer:

I can’t believe I received a rejection letter from you! You don’t get the book, or me, at all. Any idiot can see that 365 Ways to Cook Your Goose is NOT a devotional collection, but a REALLY, REALLY FUNNY work of art! I mean, wasn’t the picture of myself wearing a Mother Goose outfit, sitting in a huge skillet, a real hoot? Like, I went to A LOT of trouble and expense and bribed a friend (with an apple pie made from scratch) to take those photos. They took all afternoon to perfect! Any moron can discern that you do NOT have a sense of humor! I am going to find your CEO on Facebook and talk to him directly! And let me tell you this: You will NOT be receiving an apple pie from me! Ever!

A more reserved but unappreciated author might write:

Dear Reviewer:

Thank you for your reply. I’m afraid your rejection was sent in error, however. My book, which I thought I had pitched as a collection of humorous essays, is not meant to be used for devotional reading but for entertainment. Will you please give my book another chance and review it with fresh eyes?

You can choose to write either letter or move on to the next agent. That’s your choice, although I don’t recommend pressing “send” on the first version. Speaking only for myself, my office is not infallible; and we can misinterpret an author’s intention. As an agent, once I start working with an author, part of my job is to be sure, to the best of my ability, that an author’s work is presented to editors as the author wishes readers to perceive it. In the meantime, conversation with authors who want to work with me smooths the way. As an aspiring writer, why not make as many fans as you can along the way?

10 Responses to But They Missed the Point!

  1. Shirlee Abbott August 25, 2021 at 5:17 am #

    The agent missed the point of the book? It’s a clear call to re-write the proposal!

  2. Jeannie Delahunt August 25, 2021 at 5:31 am #

    Great information. Thank you for sharing.

  3. Roberta Sarver August 25, 2021 at 6:19 am #

    Thanks for your post, Tamela, showing us what your task is like at times. It looks like you have a sense of humor–a prerequisite for your job, no doubt.

  4. OLUSOLA SOPHIA ANYANWU August 25, 2021 at 6:19 am #

    It takes having the spirit of discernment and the grace of God to write back saying,’ You sent the rejection in error’!
    Lovely post! God bless you, Tamela.Amen.

  5. Andrew Budek-Schmeisser August 25, 2021 at 6:58 am #

    In receipt of your rejection letter,
    and my nose is out of joint.
    I really had expected better,
    but you clearly missed the point
    that “Amish Zombies Besiege Hell!”
    is not another monster story;
    as any educated man can tell,
    it’s careful-crafted allegory
    of imbroglios that rage
    within a small church choir
    over choice of hymnal page,
    tempting pastor to retire
    to life serene and solitary
    in a Himalayan monastery.

  6. Sydney F. Grey August 25, 2021 at 10:07 am #

    Ha! Thanks Tamela for the much needed chuckle today!

  7. Pam Halter August 25, 2021 at 12:40 pm #

    Good advice – thank you, Tamela!

  8. Kathleen Freeman September 13, 2021 at 11:57 am #

    Love this, Tamela! Funny and real. Skills!

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