Wednesday, March 7, 2012

The Rejection That Restored My Faith

I know it sounds weird, but I'm floating on a cloud from a rejection I received yesterday.

Back in December, I sent out the final set of queries for my first novel, Life Before Death. I didn't expect anything to come of them. I'd had a few requests, but all my subs were rejected via feedback-less form R's.

So when I got an email in January requesting a partial, I sent off the first five chapters expecting more of the same. But a couple weeks later I was pleasantly surprised when the agent's assistant wrote back asking for the full manuscript. Realizing it was probably my last chance with this ms, I spent 2-1/2 hours proofreading and revising before sending it off - but still, I expected nothing.

In the mean time, I threw all my love and energy into revising WiP #2 and started to send off queries. And as my CP's can tell you, it isn't going well.

Responses seem to be taking forever, and the ones that have come back are all form rejections. I couldn't, and still can't, figure out what I'm doing wrong, especially when I'm querying agents who claim to want the kind of story I've written.

Yesterday morning, another query response for #2 showed up in my inbox and -yup, you guessed it- a form rejection. I admit, I swore at my computer screen. Then did a little more copious whining to my CP's, lamenting that if I ONLY KNEW WHAT THE PROBLEM WAS, I'd fix it.

But alas, I'd never once received feedback on a rejection, and I didn't see the pattern changing any time soon.

Then, around 6:00 last night, the assistant who'd contacted me about Life Before Death e-mailed me. I steeled  myself, ready for another unhelpful form rejection. When I read "Thank you for your interest in our agency," I thought that was exactly what I got.

But then she went on to say how much she and the agent enjoyed the manuscript, and how lovely the ending was. To which my reaction was, Wait, what? She read all the way to the end??

Peeps, she most certainly did. She went on to tell me exactly what she loved about the ms, and the things that worked - and didn't work, which ultimately led to their passing on it.

And even though she passed, the fact that she took the time to offer such thorough, helpful, and kind feedback put me on cloud nine. Sure, my beloved first novel is going back in a drawer, for now. But someone had found it worthwhile enough - thought it DIDN'T SUCK ENOUGH - to tell me how I could make it even better - all while using words like "lovely" and "clever" and "multi-dimensional."

It was a rejection, but it's the best I've felt about my writing in a long time.

So now I can say with certainty that there ARE agents out there who will care about your work, and who will pay attention to what you've created. And then, even if they don't take you on, they'll tell you why with more than just a generic, "Sorry, not right for me."

And that is how a rejection restored my faith in the publishing world. Amen.


  1. Most agents don't have time to give everybody feedback. The form responses and quick no's are a survival mechanism in their job.

    The fact that one agent took the time to give you the feedback maybe doesn't say as much about that agent as it does about your manuscript. She probably doesn't give everybody that much feedback -- only the ones she liked enough to feel sad about passing on.

    Congrats! I hope it doesn't stay in the drawer too long, now that you have some idea of what needs to be revised.

    As for query rejections on #2, have you considered changing your query?

  2. Oh I'm SO glad you finally got some feedback, even if it wasn't on LYM! Kind of restores your faith in agents, eh? As funny as it seems, I'm sure it's kind of like validation in a way - obviously you're doing right if she liked it enough to comment like that! Yay for awesome agents!

  3. Ohhhh my goodness. G. I couldn't be happier about this. I mean, I could be, if they had SIGNED you...but I read LBD, and I know that everything they said about how wonderful it was is TRUE. And I'm so happy that this has made you feel good about that first MS, because YOU DESERVE TO.

    Hope this adds fuel to the fire of MS #3. You are a ROCK STAR.

  4. Yay for feedback! I know that feeling--even when it ends in rejection, that feedback makes all the difference. Good luck to WiP #2!

  5. Wow! I know it sounds odd, but congratulations on having your day made - I'd be over the moon too!

  6. I'm so happy for you :) That's awesome when an agent will take the time to do that b/c it means they genuinely liked your book/writing and wanted to help. Good luck!

  7. This is both awesome and sad because you came so close, but got some amazing feedback. Which agent was it?

    Are you going to revise based on the feedback now?

    If you need someone to look at your query for the 2nd book or whatever, let me know. :)

  8. I love you. Dude, totally what I needed today.

    Thanks girl!

  9. Yes there are. And thank God for them. The ones who offer a reason why the story worked will always be the ones I return to in the future. Form rejections just suck, and I know it's cuz sometimes the agent doesn't have time to go into the reasons why, but IMO if they have time to read the ms, they have time to either say they didn't like it, or the writing sucked, etc. Just a little nugget of something to go on is all we ask.
    I'm really glad you got some helpful feedback. And maybe when you return to that story in a few months, you'll know what to do with it. :)

  10. That is so awesome to hear! You deserve that feedback :)