Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Was it me, or was it you?

Subjectivity refers to the subject and his or her perspective, feelings, beliefs, and desires.

This post is about rejection. Having a manuscript rejected doesn't make anybody happy, but that's not exactly what this is about. As a writer, you expect a certain amount of rejection (the majority of the feedback a manuscript receives will likely be in the form of rejection). And I do. I crave it actually, so I can find the problems in my work and fix it.

The thing is, there often isn't a specific reason for the rejection. And even if there is, it's rare to find a literary agent who has the time (or isn't so scarred by backlash received from writers he/she was trying to help) to share the specific reason for rejection. Most often, the response received will be some form of the sentence, "It just wasn't right for me, but I'm sure there's another agent out there who it would be right for." This could mean anything from, "Wow, that was the worst POS I've ever read, but I just don't have the heart to tell you" to "You didn't follow the submission guidelines" to "The piece is well-written and the premise isn't bad, but I just don't feel like your genre is selling right now".

And this is frustrating. I don't want to send out a query that isn't working to all the agents on my list and then have them all pass on my manuscript. But, if I don't send out my query to a large number of agents at once, then how will I ever reach enough people to overcome the subjectivity factor? How do I know if I just need to keep sending it out there until I find "the one" or if there is actually something fundamentally wrong with my query? What do you all you writers out there think about this - agree? disagree? What have your query experiences been?

And in case you're wondering about my inspiration for this post - I'm getting ready to start querying DAUGHTER OF THE MOON, and I've been entering contests to test the water. The first contest, March Madness Agent Pitch, didn't go so well and I didn't make it into the agent-judged round. I've entered another one over at Cupid's Lit Connection, so we'll see how that goes!


  1. I agree with you when it comes to those form letters. The next big thing to an acceptance is definitely a personal rejection. There's no greater feedback than that from an agent or editor that you know has lots of experience in the area you're aiming for. Form rejections of the "just not for me" variety can be discouraging.

    I'm focusing on short stories right now, so the majority of my responses are from the editors of zines and journals, but the process is largely the same. The form rejections get added to the "push harder" pile and the personals get added to the "listen up" pile. The editors that have gone out of their way to give me personal feedback are always the first ones I submit to now, even over other publications that pay more or have more prestige in the genre.

    Good luck querying. Remember to print out all of your rejections so you can have a ceremonial bonfire on the day of your acceptance. :)