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!
I work to think of any rejection as God telling me it’s not the right agency or publishing house for me … at that time. Because I’ve heard stories of authors getting a rejection, and a couple of years later, an acceptance. With the same manuscript!
An agent said he’d represent
a poet in his stable;
was this really what he meant?
Might I thus be able
to find a happy landing place
for my book of rhymes?
But then I found I had to face
these modern weirded times
when the only verses
published are LGBT,
replete with sin and curses
and Bubba, that ain’t me,
so this agent will not see
submission of my poetry.
The rejection letter I got from you, Pamela, said, in effect. I think you have the emPHAsis on the wrong syLABle. I appreciated your insight. I took from it, wrong time, wrong place, wrong slant. Keep working.
Thank you so much for your insight and williingness to share.
No one likes rejection but the truth is that it gives you an opportunity to take your writing to the next level.
Holly C. Friesen
I got a rejection from a publishing company that told me they received over 20,000 manuscripts a year and didn’t have time for me. I went to my relative who lives in a small town west of me. A painter, photographer, he said, ” No problem. Just self-publish. I have a printer down the street I use who will help you every step of the way.” I took the manuscript down, they loved it, sent me to an editor, then a formatter and today I have a published book in my hand, selling it and also a website. HCFriesen.com Come see the children’s book I wrote!! P.S-love your post.
Kristen Joy Wilks
Ha ha! That is a great rejection letter and very close to how they look to our eyes on the first read. I’ve discovered that so many agents and editors simply cannot evaluate your work at the conference and so ask you to send something. It is a chance. A slim one, but a chance. I’ll take that any day and learn to survive the probable rejection.
Sharon K Connell
Thank you, Tamela. I feel the same way about reviews from readers. There’s no need for insults. If I can’t give an honest 3-star review on a book, I don’t bother. Being an author is hard enough without added discouragement to someone who has poured their soul into a story. And let’s face it. No matter how many years you’ve been in this craft, we still have feelings. Even at a 3-star, I start off with what I liked about the story, then proceed to what wasn’t my personal “cup of tea.” And I remind the other readers it is my “personal opinion.”
Insults never helped anyone. It only shows a person’s true character. It also shows a lack of respect for your fellow man. This is the type of person I avoid if possible.
What a heartfelt post, Tamela. It shows how much you care about our little author hearts!
Carol R Nicolet Loewen
That’s a pretty painful example! I appreciate that you try to send more gracious rejection letters when needed. Your kind heart shows in the way you respond to authors. Thank you!