My office receives many submissions every week and we must send out many rejections right away. Those aren’t so painful. Rejected manuscripts include:
1.) Game plans on how to pick up more and hotter women.
2.) Horror novels.
3.) Stream of consciousness meanderings.
Others are near misses. The near misses are by far the most painful. They include:
1.) The talented fiction author missing the market in time period.
2.) The talented fiction author missing the market in setting.
3.) The talented nonfiction author with a great idea but not enough platform and no discernible way to build one in that area.
4.) The talented nonfiction author with a great idea in a topic that’s too crowded with authors with huge platforms too difficult to overcome.
The good news? A talented author willing to revamp and try us again has another chance. When we say “you are talented” (and we do say this) we mean it. If you are interested in us, be sure to revamp and follow up with a new idea. Turning that “no” into a “yes” will be great news for us all!
Have you ever gone back to an agent with a new idea? What happened?
Have you instead tried many agents with the same idea until you found representation?
Either way, tell us your story.
I have only been rejected twice so far – one each of the two types you mentioned. One agent sent an immediate response saying she wasn’t into fantasy. The second type was from you. It was a very nice rejection. I have done enough research to realize that it is just part of the game. I was not offended at all.
If I do not get representation for the series I am working on now, you may hear from me again when I have a new project to offer.
Thanks for everything you do.
At my first agent interview I was told that mixing genres didn’t sell and to pick one or the other, so I rewrote it. Since then, my novel has been rejected once by a small publisher. And by the time it had been rejected (over 6 months had passed) I realized that it was in no shape to be published. I went back and rewrote much of it and submitted it to literature savvy friends for review. When I have more free time (winter) I will take their suggestions under advisement and do some more rewrites as necessary before I submit it. It may be years because, if it is published, I’d like to have follow-up novels ready to go. I have read so many 2nd and 3rd novels that were not nearly as well written as the first. Writing take time and energy and the state of the world does not hang on my novel, so I will take my time rewriting and polishing the 2nd one along with the first this winter. And maybe next year . . .
Numbers 3 and 4 are the giants I face. My stones are smooth, my slingshot is ready, I am anointed. I only “appear” small and unequipped for victory in the eyes of the publishing giant. My answer is, “No,” to both your questions; but I am prepared to be relentless.
Another kind of rejection hurts us all: when you like our ideas, but none of the publishers do. If that happens to me, I will be ready to make needed adjustments to my book or platform.
I have one rejection letter under my belt, and like Andrea, my agent couldn’t have been kinder. “It’s not you, it’s me. We’re not looking for… at this time.” I decided to hold off sending any more proposals and work on my “platform”. Easier said than done. The Lord reminds me often that “to man belong the plans of the heart, but from the Lord comes the reply of the tongue”, and so I try and find that balance of doing my part while waiting for His reply. Living today despite the tasks of tomorrow.
I actually love telling this story because I believe it encourages new writers. It did take me a while to procure the services of an agent, but once I did — the 9th book I wrote was the 1st book I sold! Sometimes it does take a while! That was 5 years ago, and I’ve published 15 since. My message? Keep. Writing.
Thanks for sharing your story, it truly is encouraging to hear your story!
You’re so welcome, Melony! Be encouraged!
Yes, but what about inspirational Christian horror? I’m not kidding; I have the outline laid out for one.
Rejection may be even harder to deal with today far more than a few years ago, because we’re afforded the ability through these fora to build relationship. Though you’ve not said so, I would imagine that having to give even the gentlest ‘no’ to a regular and constructive contributor to this blog is a special kind of pain. It would be for me.
I deeply, deeply appreciate the prayers over the past week. It has been a tough period. Not out of the woods by any means, but prayers have lit the path I must take.
In 2010, two agents were looking at my debut novel and I chose one, resulting in the publication of an award winner. But time and his death left me looking for another agent.
Three years ago at a conference I met and “set my cap” for Steve Laube. He’d shown initial interest in my second novel, but my recent proposal didn’t cut it with him.
I’m hard pressed but not crushed, perplexed but not despairing (to quote the apostle Paul).
Now I’m flogging this second manuscript directly to a couple of publishers. Maybe if I sell it, Steve will take a second look at me. : )
I’m grateful for the information and support I receive from this agency’s website. Thanks for your excellent posts!
Finding an agent is refining adventure! I presented my novel for scrutiny at a conference years ago, and it was rejected by two agents for exactly opposite reasons. A couple of years later, I presented it to three others, all of whom wanted it. As far as I can tell, a lot of it depends on the market—what readers are asking for— and the agent her/himself. If an agent “gets” your writing, he or she will represent you with genuine faith in your project, and will be that much more effective. Sometimes, even though a book is ready and the market looks good, nothing happens. To me, that’s God saying that I’m not ready, and I need to look inward.
I really don’t know what to say in response to the most telling aspect of your post “we also feel rejection”. I have had moments like that, where I thought someone was thinking this and they thought I was thinking that and neither was thinking anything of a kind. A real relationship needs honest exchange and the freedom to say how we really feel. So I identify with your vulnerability … not sure how to respond yet though.
I had a book turned down by one publisher’s imprint only to be picked up by a different imprint. That book prompted a contract for three more. One acquisitions editor didn’t like it. The other did.
Tamela, it’s always nice to see the agent’s perspective to the rejection issue. I have approached the same agent with different ideas at ACFW. This past year gave me great encouragement after meeting with said agent.
Sure is interesting to read about rejection from the agent’s point of view. I guess I am most surprised at the thought of resending something to an agent. I thought once rejected, always rejected. Don’t try again. This gives me hope.
Interesting post. I’ve only sent one manuscript into an agency(this one). I was excited and nervous at the same time. I’m still waiting for a response; the waiting game is the hardest for me, but I’ll persevere. I think if I get a “no”, I’ll probably send it to another agent.
Here’s a question I want to pose to the contributors: if you received a rejection letter saying they liked your manuscript, and they would accept it if one thing was changed, but this one thing resulted in a fundamental shift in the focus of your story(and you know making this change would entirely change your manuscript for the worst because then it would be a different manuscript, one you weren’t even trying to tell in the first place), would you make this change and resubmit to get potentially published? Or would you stick to your guns and submit to another agent?
Tamela Hancock Murray
I would do what it takes to be published but that’s me!
Me too, Tamela. I welcome your input.
Thank you, Tamela, for your input. I would to, in most cases, but I do have a line. For instance, if I was submitting to a Christian publisher, and they wanted me to cut any mentions of God by at least half, I don’t think I would. IMO, you can’t have to much God, and my fiction is geared toward spreading the Good news through my writing, so I think I would stick to my guns on that. 🙂
Tamela Hancock Murray
True. The original question was about agents and now you’re talking about publishers so I hope you land a great agent who can partner with you to help when and if you have questions for your publisher about content. 🙂
So if my how-to guide on picking up women actually doubles as a horror story, then the two negatives cancel out, right?