Rejection

Why You Don’t Want to be the Exception

In a recent post on the top three reasons why my office sends rejection letters, I referred to authors sending me out-of-category submissions.

Spaghetti Against the Wall

First, I mentioned that some authors don’t do their research. They don’t take the five to ten minutes tops to find out what we’re seeking. We even have a handy-dandy tab on our site.

I think most authors who don’t consider what we’re looking for are querying dozens if not hundreds of agents they’ve found on a list and are hoping for the best. Unfortunately, that method wastes everyone’s time, time we need to spend serving our clients and reviewing viable submissions.

I’m Special

In my view, the second type of author who sends out-of-category submissions appears to be the author who thinks his work is so outstanding that we’ll make an exception for him. I’m not saying this can’t and never does happen. However, as an author, if you take this approach, you must ask yourself, “Do I really want to go with an agent who doesn’t know my category?”

I can be the most hardworking agent in the industry, and I might sign you. However, if I only know one editor who’d even look at a book on 53 ways to braid short hair, am I doing you a service to sign you, no matter how much I love your book?

Of course, the exception proves the rule, and that one editor could offer a multimillion-dollar contract tomorrow. Magic beyond logic can happen. That’s why it’s called magic. But if you’re a new author trying to navigate which agent to approach, wouldn’t it be in your best interest to work with an agent with a strong background in the type of book you write, especially when that agent works within an agency known for success with your kind of book?

There’s NO Other Book Like Mine!

A variation of “I’m Special,” this means that when you do your market research, you cannot find ANY other books on Mormon Vampires Colonizing the Sun. I understand the need to make your book unique, but when you can find NO other book anywhere near yours, there might be a reason for that. That reason is, there is no market for your book. At least this one has a remedy: do your market research before writing your book to help determine if you are entering a proven category or can offer a new take on a needed topic.

Your turn:

How many agents do you think an author should approach at the same time?

What is the most obscure book you’ve ever read?

Leave a Comment

I Hate My Job!

Well, I don’t always hate my job. I only hate it on the days I have to send rejection letters. Or maybe I should say, I only hate it during the moments of the day that I must send rejection letters. If you receive a rejection letter either from my …

Read More

You Are Not Your Words

Writers love words. That’s a good thing. But when we become attached to our own words, that’s a bad thing. I see it often in meeting with writers and offering critiques at writers’ conferences. The writer will hand me a piece of his or her work, “to see what you …

Read More

Writers Learn to Prepare

Preparation is awfully important if you are planning to climb Mt. Everest. If you show up in a t-shirt, shorts, flip flops, and a sack lunch it is likely you will perish during the ascent.

The same idea applies to the writer. You must do the hard work ahead of time to achieve success.

There are No Shortcuts

Read More

I’m Always Open to Submissions

Sometimes authors send me an email asking, “Are you looking at new submissions?” or “Are you accepting new clients?” I appreciate these authors’ desire not to waste my time or theirs, but I’ll say it here: I’m always open to submissions and new clients. Now, does this mean I’m open …

Read More

What’s Wrong with my Book?

As you can imagine, we see hundreds of proposals and manuscripts each month. And, as you can also imagine, we must decline most. However, there are a few mistakes you can avoid to help your submission rise above others: Not beginning the story in the right place. All too often, …

Read More

The Right Number of Words

More times than I’d like, my office must send out letters advising aspiring authors that their manuscripts are too short or too long. Much of the time, the author is talented but hasn’t investigated the market well enough to know if the word count is right. Submitting a project that’s …

Read More

I Hate Rejecting Great Books!

If you, as an author, feel beaten down by several rejections, perhaps you have this image of an agent reading your submission: (Agent sits down at computer, armed with a steaming cup of Uber Expensive Coffee.) “It is now time to go through my submissions!” (Agent rolls up sleeves and …

Read More

Tossed by the Ocean of Emotion

It is hard to be a writer or to work in the publishing industry. Everyone defines success differently and we strive to meet those expectations at every turn. Often we let “success” define us, especially when a writer is told “You are only as good as the sales of your last …

Read More