Recently, my husband and I decided to sell his Lincoln sedan. The vehicle had been driven only a few miles and was barely out of warranty. The dealership always sent a valet to drive the 40-mile round trip for scheduled maintenance. Kept in a garage, the car had no ding or scratch; and the interior was spotless. Who wouldn’t want this fantastic car?
I called up a local used-car dealership. They said, “Sure! We’ll look at your car. We bought a fire truck!”
After we arrived, the appraiser drove the car and then told us, “This isn’t my type of car. It doesn’t have any of the features I want. I want a fully loaded BMW SUV.”
The car was no iteration of a BMW SUV, fully loaded or not. Now, when I drive by their lot, I think, “Why did they make me feel as though I wasted their time?”
On to your book …
So, you are an author with a beautiful book of fantasy poems you’ve worked hard to make sparkle and shine. Who wouldn’t want your book? An agent tells you, “Sure! I love fantasy poems! I am eagerly looking for all types of poetry! Send it along!”
Months later, you receive this letter:
This is not my type of book. I really, really am not looking for fantasy or poetry. Yeah, I know I said poetry. I said fantasy. And I said fantasy poetry. But for the record, I hate elves. I hate gnomes. I hate having to learn about a new world that an author invented. I hate rhymes. I don’t care if you ever write another book or verse again. You can send it, but I doubt I’ll like it.
Agent You Now Hate
I exaggerate (I hope), but that is how a critical letter will sound to an author who’s been encouraged to send a manuscript the agent ultimately feels must be rejected. I will never say that every decline that leaves my office is perfect, but I hope a pass doesn’t mean you feel misled or that we took on an attitude of “Why did you waste my time?”
So while a rejection letter that doesn’t offer input may not seem helpful, my office would prefer that you think of us with your next project, rather than have our letter offer unhelpful criticism. Final takeaway? Keep writing, and keep submitting!