I’m a firm believer in celebrating small victories. You have to find the success even in the bad, or you’re in for a long, hard ride.
One thing I’ve noticed in my fabulous querying adventure is seeing the positive in the negative. It’s there, even though the all around answer may be no.
So how does one decode a rejection letter? Well first, you have to know and be aware of the different types of rejection. There are all kinds of clues that tell you a great deal with how close you are to landing an agent. Let’s list them, shall we? (And if I leave any out, please feel free to add in the comments)
No response: The worst kind, in my opinion, is the no response means no. I get that agents are *insanely* busy, but I have so much respect for agents that respond, even if it takes them a while. (I just got a R on a full from my first novel I sent last May! Yes, a year later, but it was a response, regardless)
Standard form letter: I think early queriers can’t tell the difference between a form letter and an agent’s actual input. You catch on pretty fast, but here is a classic example:
Thank you very much for giving us the opportunity to read your submission. We appreciate you considering us for representation of your project. Unfortunately, after careful review, we have decided that we might not be the right agency for your work. This industry is incredibly subjective, and there are many agencies out there with many different tastes. It is for this reason that we strongly encourage you to keep submitting elsewhere, in the hopes of finding an agent who will be an enthusiastic champion for you and your work.
And there are different sub-types of a form letter. Some insert your name or the title of your book around the form, others just send off the “Dear Author” letter. Again, not the kind of rejection you want to get, but better than a no response. (IMO)
The other day, I got a form, but at the end of the letter, the agent had written in: “What a cool concept! And the writing is fantastic!” ßThose two sentences made my whole day, LOL. It means you’re not way off base, but just have a product that the agent isn’t looking for at that time.
A short, but polite, “No, thank you.” I actually prefer these to the form letter. It makes me feel more like a person instead of another number that’s flooding the agent’s inbox.
Detailed reason for the “no.” These are the best. We’re in this business to improve, and to get even just a glimpse into the agent’s reason for the no means the world to us slushpilers.
**Unless your detailed response doesn’t make sense. I once had an agent tell me that she was rejecting my novel because she didn’t like openings that started off with a dream. Er… My novel DIDN’T have a single dream in it, LOL! I know that’s a big no, no. I wouldn’t EVER do that. It was fine though. I just figured she had accidentally sent me the wrong letter or she was half-dreaming herself. *smile*
Now there are different variations to this. If it’s a query, a simple: “I’m not looking for fantasy now” is great. Or even better, if it’s on requested material, the reasoning behind the no is like gold. Which leads us into:
The Encouraging rejection. This of course is what we all want. (As far as rejections go) We authors have egos. And heh, sometimes they need to be fed. If they’re not, it’s soooo easy to slip into a rejection depression. Which is why, the other day when I got an encouraging phrase that said, “I have no doubt you will find an agent soon that will share your vision for this novel.” Followed by some compliments, I could smile on the rejection, because I know that those small words—even though it was a no—are a mini success.
I know in the ballet world, when a teacher is giving you corrections, it means that she/he sees potential there. It’s the same in the writing world. So the more detailed rejection you can get, the closer you are.
What do you think? These are of course just my opinions, whether to rationalize my own feelings, or to create a coping mechanism for my own sanity. Regardless, I’d love to hear about your rejection letter experiences!
Red. Head. Out. :D