Wednesday, October 19, 2011

I Wanted Words But All I Heard Was Nothing

Long story short: the two partials I had out a couple posts ago ended in rejection. That in itself wasn't surprising, because quite honestly, getting requests for material is way further than I ever thought I'd go in this publishing game.

What bothered me more is that all three of the rejections I've received on my submitted materials have been unhelpful, push-button form rejections.

I mean, come on, people.

Would it really have killed them to type a sentence or two that would have given me some REAL insight as to why they stopped reading, and not just a generic Sorry but this wasn't for me?

After all, how am I supposed to fix the problem if I don't even know what it is?

Is it my characters?

Does my writing suck?

Were they falling asleep by paragraph 2?

I'll never know, because no one is telling me!

At this point, it's obvious to me that my query is decent. My premise must be pretty decent too, or they wouldn't be asking to see more. But it's also obvious that there's some kind of problem, and I have no clue what it is.

So tell me, peeps - how do I make revisions based on feedback that isn't there?


  1. This is hard and frustrating! I know why they don't send a personal response -- it takes a few minutes to type a personalized explanation (multiplied by several hundred similar responses per day). I also saw an agent blog post once that said it only took a couple of authors writing back to argue with her to make her quit offering feedback altogether. (What a shame that a few obnoxious people spoil something useful to others!)

    You are right -- your query is probably good if it's getting requests. But you might want to carefully consider whether it accurately portrays your book. Maybe the book isn't what they expected from your query?

    If you decide the query is just fine, then I'd suggest doing a little revision on your opening chapters. Tighten up your word count, make sure you foster a connection between readers and main character -- and query some more!

    I know it doesn't feel like it -- but requests and rejections are part of the process. You are moving forward!

  2. I don't mind form rejections on queries, but there is nothing more annoying that a form rejection on a full or partial. I hate that.

    Even worse is no response at all on a full. That happened to me once.

  3. Been there. I've also had the not-so-vague-but-it-was-still-vague feedback. One agent told me to cut a subplot. Um, yeah. What subplot specifically? Because the one she might have meant might be a vital subplot to the story. But she didn't know that if she hadn't finished the book. Her comment did make me think, though. And I decided the subplot a beta reader told me to add would be the one to go. It was a great subplot (at least I thought so), but removing it would up the thriller aspect of the story. Now I just have to do that--once I've finished my current wip.

    It is tough. But I've heard the same agent side of things like Dianne. That made me more understanding. But yeah, I would like to know if the agent didn't connect with my mc, because that might mean others won't either. I need to know that so I can fix it.

  4. The only thing I can think of that is remotely helpful is to get more people to read your MS. You need fresh eyes that will look at your query and then your MS like agents do (objectively, before not having read anything before) and tell you honestly what the problem is or why they didn't/did want to read more. If you need a fresh pair of eyes, let me know. I can be very honest if you want me to be.


    seriously. :(

    the way i imagined it was: keep on querying and querying and querying until something comes of it. maybe it means actually getting an agent or getting a really decent response from an agent telling me what i can do to make my novel better, so that i can revise and re-query it.

    and honestly, that is the only process i can think of when it comes to querying. but maybe lila's right--you should try sending the MS out to more people and figuring if there's something you need to fix? i can't imagine what but at the time this seems like the only thing you can do to move forward in this crazy-ass process.

  6. It is a frustrating process and even with good CPs and betas it's still a bit like the blind leading the blind if they haven't been published either. And even if they have, they aren't the agent so it's not a given that what they notice is what the agent is rejecting. In theory, you could be changing something the agent loved but the CP hated. You just don't know.

  7. How many agents have you queried at this point? I've been told by a few authors that after ten no-gos, it is time to revise. I don't know how you feel about this--heading back into revision is hard. But a few new eyes could do the trick.

  8. I understand a form R on a query, but on a partial or full it just feels like they're punching you in the gut. I don't think I've ever started revising until I've gone through a significant amount of agents (like most of the ones I set out to query initially) because you never know what one agent is going to like and another isn't. Of course, this works for me because usually I end up changing the book so much that it doesn't look like what it did the first time I queried it. >.<

    If you're thinking about revising, I'd take a break from LBD for a while and go work on LYM or something else for a couple of months. Then come back, read it over, maybe get some fresh eyes for it. Letting myself detach for a while and find my love for the MS all over again usually helps when I need to tighten up the plot/pacing/characterization/whatever needs to be fixed.

    I'm frustrated right there with you, because I know LBD is good enough. Ugh.

  9. This. Effing. Sucks. (I know, I've been there. Am there.)

    Honestly, I'm afraid to revise unless I get an R&R, or I go through the CP process all over again - if two out of three say to change it, it has to go - but you don't want to send it to SIX fresh eyes, do you? :)

    Maybe I'm fatalistic, but I'd rather stick TT in a drawer than revise it MORE with zero guidance.

    Chin up, lady. LBD rules. I'd say keep querying. Until you hit 100 agents you haven't hit BA (Brodi Ashton, duh) territory. <3

  10. I hate, hate, hate this part of the process. Would it really kill their day to write one measly sentence on why they didn't like it? Heck, I'll even take, "Hate this story like I've never hated anything before," over "Thanks, but no." I've listened to more than one editor at a conference complain about writers sending stuff they don't need/want but, even then, they won't actually come out and say, "Look, I don't like plots with so much action in them," etc. solution was simply to pass my mss. out to writing friends who wouldn't pull any punches. If you'd rather have professional opinions, try some of these professional editing sites.

    Otherwise, slog it out and wait for someone to admire your genius. There's got to be someone out there eventually, right? Or so I keep telling myself...

  11. Hi. :)
    I'm 17 and I've been reading Your blog a while. Like You, I really want to become a writer. ( Actually, I sometimes think I'm a writer already). I wrote a short story and one girl, that commented on it said that I use too many words. So now I think I should do my writing differently. To learn to do that.
    I don't know why I write to You, but it after reading that girl's note, I thought I would love to share that with someone, who is an aspiring writer, too.
    I love Your blog and I wish You all the best in Your writing. You'll be published soon!