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View Full Version : Which is worse: rejection on a query, partial or full submission?



Blondchen
05-03-2008, 01:18 AM
I know I'm new here, but since the waiting involved in this inhumane process is starting to give me an ulcer, I thought I'd post a little poll.

I'm going to go with a reject based on a partial as being the worst feeling. A query rejection is almost the norm and on a full, well, at least someone requested a full! With a partial, they seem to be saying "Good idea, but man this writing sucks..."

Or perhaps that's just me.

xiaotien
05-03-2008, 01:21 AM
um. the full, of course.
if you think the partial is bad, the full is
much worse. the closer you get, the more
it sucks when you get the big R kick in the
face.

query R's are nothing.
i point and laugh at them.

dawinsor
05-03-2008, 01:42 AM
Oh the full, no doubt. At that point, you've let yourself hope so it really hurts. The only compensation is that those Rs usually come with some sort of feedback so you can at least decide to revise.

Calla Lily
05-03-2008, 01:45 AM
Full. Hands down.

Red-Green
05-03-2008, 05:01 AM
Okay, I can think of one that's worse than the full:

When a good friend nails a great agent and shiny book contract and gushes relentlessly about you to her agent, who finally says, "Sure, if you think she's so great, have her send me the MS."

And you do and the agent says, "Meh."

That sucks, but clearly of the three choices listed, the full sucks the most.

triceretops
05-03-2008, 05:51 AM
I have my own general formula for the tier rejection process, and this is only from my experience.

Query Rejection: The concept/premise sucks (They're looking for that breakaway, high concept blockbuster)

Patial Rejection: The writing sucks (This is enough material to evaluate your style/voice and mechanical structure. It's room enough to get your characters onboard, so generally, that shouldn't be too much of a problem).

Full Rejection: The plot sucks (This involves story arcs, red herrings, subplots, motivation and a satisfying ending/resolution).

The partial and full rejections can be fixed. The query rejection is almost a death knell. Anyway, that's what I've been seeing.

So, I do believe the Query Rejection is the worst, aside from the above mentioned, you haven't even gotten in the door for a read, and will also miss out on any comments that MIGHT be sent your way regarding your prose.

Tri

GJB
05-03-2008, 10:09 AM
I agee with Tri. As so often, he nails it.

Query rejection is the worst of the three for another reason--it's short. Because it's short, you've nailed it, or so you think. No tangents, no asides, just the straight up fabulous concept plus maybe a little brag vest and the first couple to 10 pages (per the agent's guidelines). Yet your very best doesn't even get past the intern. Horrible, ouch.

In contrast, if the query results in a request for partial, you know you can attract a glimpse from a pro. If the partial attracts a request for a full, you know a pro thinks you can write. The rest just takes more work and a bit of timing/luck. But the craft and talent are no longer in big doubt.

Here's to requests for fulls for all--we can deal with rejections on those. g.

Pike
05-03-2008, 10:13 AM
What do you mean my concept/ premise sucks? (can you tell I've only gotten a rejection on a query?)

I agree with the crowd: gettign a rejection on a full sounds like a serious let down after getting that far. Ouch!

Pike

triceretops
05-03-2008, 11:46 AM
Not to worry, Pike. I'm major suckatude when it comes to my concept/premise. I'm sitting at somewhere around 160 rejections, both from agents and editors. I never hear about bad or unmotivated characters, slow pace, lousy hook, bad ending, weak plot or any other thing. I get totally high marks there. It's always:

Don't feel it would compete in today's market.

Didn't push the genre.

Won't stand out.

Not too much new here

This seemed familiar to me.

These, I feel at least, are some of the most devastating rejections. What does it point to? To the root of it, I think--the concept/idea/premise. There's nothing else it could be. It's bad enough when I get these at the full stage (And this happens with agent subs, 'cause the editor is at least obligated to read the full). But when I get these comments at the query stage, I feel shot down before the starting gun has gone off.

I think the full rejection is a longer lasting wait, which adds to the tension and depression. But aren't full reads what we all strive for, and are deleriously happy to get? Pound for pound, word for word, the query carries much more responsibility than the other forms--it's so compact and compressed. Getting axed at the query stage is blunt force trauma, where I feel that partial and fulls are a more slow, cancer-like death.

I get jealous everytime I see all of these multiple requests for partials and fulls from the AWers. They've got it going on as far as subject matter. There's something really intriguing in their idea, and to pass that hurdle is a major wall knocked down.

Tri

kristie911
05-03-2008, 01:15 PM
Definitely the full.

When I send a query, I always anticipate a rejection.

When I send a partial, it gets my hopes up just a bit and the rejection stings slightly but I expected it.

When I send a full, I think, "wow, my partial didn't suck" and the hopes are high. The rejection hurts like hell because I realize I still suck.

Definitely the full.

jgold
05-03-2008, 04:40 PM
Oddly enough, I'd have to say that the partial rejections hurt the most.

I consider query rejections a matter of taste. If the subject matter doesn't interest the agent, then they'll say no. I can live with that because I reject reading books all the time based on subject matter.

With a full rejection, at least I know that the agent liked something about the writing, but it wasn't perfect enough to want to represent. Devastating, but at least you got close.

But a partial rejection...ouch. The agent doesn't even like the story/writing enough to want to FINISH the book. That's the worst feeling for me. The whole point is to write a story that people can't put down. When an agent can easily set aside your book and never want to pick it up again...

Well, that sucks.

donroc
05-03-2008, 04:59 PM
Full, especially after I have received a phone call request for it.

:cry:

cate townsend
05-04-2008, 08:56 AM
But a partial rejection...ouch. The agent doesn't even like the story/writing enough to want to FINISH the book. That's the worst feeling for me. The whole point is to write a story that people can't put down. When an agent can easily set aside your book and never want to pick it up again...Well, that sucks.

My first thought was, the full. Definitely the full. But after I read this by jgold, I had to think a bit. Yeah, that's so true. It's hard to say. But given the fact I've got all three out there right now, I have to say, I feel somewhat relieved when a rejection comes in and it's only on the query. The higher the hopes, the harder they fall.

Appalachian Writer
05-04-2008, 09:33 AM
Let's face it, it truly sucks to be rejected period! If I get a query rejection, it comes down to three possibilities: 1. the idea is a bummer 2. the query letter needs revision or 3. the agent is an idiot who just missed out on a great opportunity. I'd like to always believe the third option is true, but most times, I revamp the query letter. If I get a partial rejection, I think "this thing needs a lot of tightening up." I do it. If I get a full rejection, I kick the walls, scream, cry, consider becoming a truck driver, and then just start the whole thing over. Rejection's the name of the game, I guess. I tell people that my skin isn't thick; it's just well oiled.

blacbird
05-04-2008, 09:46 AM
The query rejection is almost a death knell.

So, I do believe the Query Rejection is the worst, aside from the above mentioned, you haven't even gotten in the door for a read, and will also miss out on any comments that MIGHT be sent your way regarding your prose.

Yup. Don't know much about the others.

caw

steveg144
05-05-2008, 06:51 PM
Worse? Just different, I'd say.

If they reject your query a lot (esp if it's a form-letter query) then that tells you that either a) your query sucks, or b) you're querying people who don't do the genre you're writing in.

If they reject your partial, they may be saying "your query intrigued us, but your writing didn't live up to what we were led to expect from the query."

If they see your partial, and reject your full MS, they may be saying "we liked the writing we saw in your partial, but either the writing fell off as the book went on, or the good writing wasn't enough to sustain a weak story, lack of coherence from front to back, etc etc etc."

I prefer not to think in terms of "better" or "worse"; I view both as opportunities to glean useful information that I can use to refine my uery approach, or to rework (and in extreme circumstances, shelve) my book.

David McAfee
05-05-2008, 09:25 PM
I would have to say that having your agented manuscript rejected by publishers after a full read is the worst because you are soooooo close. You wrote it, sent the query to the agent and it passed muster. Then you sent the full and ooooh, it passed muster again. Then the agent sends it out and you are feeling good and hopeful and positive and then...

NOPE! Sorry. Not for us.

Ug. That smarts!

:)

lkp
05-05-2008, 11:27 PM
I'm with David because those are submissions sent by an agent who loves your work, to an editor whose tastes your agent knows. Ouch, ouch, ouch.

finewritingfinewine
05-05-2008, 11:31 PM
Well I've had both kinds today and in measuring them one against another: they both suck. I had the Redzilla kind (friend raves. agent requests. agent rejects) and a query reject--the form kind with a small personal note tacked to the bottom. After no news for weeks, I have to say they sting more than those did in the middle of the query wave.

Irysangel
05-06-2008, 12:36 AM
I'd say its the worst when it goes to the editorial board and they pass. :)

Enraptured
05-06-2008, 01:01 AM
The worst rejection I've gotten was the one that came after a full request. I'm used to getting query rejections, and with query rejections at least I have the consolation of knowing that the agent in question is no doubt receiving tons of queries and rejecting most of them. But with the full I had a chance to build up a lot of hope.

soleary
05-06-2008, 01:08 AM
Full, hands down. Getting rejected over a query is kind of like a bad blind date. The R on a partial is like losing a boy or girlfriend. The R on full is a painful divorce, unless of course you were having an affair with another literary agent and he/she LOVES you (it).

Good luck, and embrace the process! If you love what you're doing, the pain will be lessoned by the rejections.

gettingby
05-06-2008, 01:28 AM
I don't want any of them. Rejections are always a bit heartbreaking. I hate it when people don't love me. However, the closer you get, the more it sucks to get turned down.

lkp
05-06-2008, 03:56 AM
I'd say its the worst when it goes to the editorial board and they pass. :)

Yup, you're right. Irysangel wins.

Phaeal
05-06-2008, 05:55 AM
Nope, the worst would be: You get published by a major house, get decent publicity, then the critics decide you suck, and readers agree with them, and you don't come anywhere close to earning out your advance, so no one in the business ever wants to see your name again, aaaaaaaagh.

Of course, if your advance was really, really fat...but, no. This would still totally suck. ;P

triceretops
05-06-2008, 08:20 AM
I would have to say that having your agented manuscript rejected by publishers after a full read is the worst because you are soooooo close. You wrote it, sent the query to the agent and it passed muster. Then you sent the full and ooooh, it passed muster again. Then the agent sends it out and you are feeling good and hopeful and positive and then...

NOPE! Sorry. Not for us.

Ug. That smarts!

Oh, Dave, I forgot about that one! Just got one of those major blows today. Now I have major blockage and the "quit" feeling looming over my head.

Tri

windyrdg
05-06-2008, 07:39 PM
When I read the OP, my first thought was having a submission rejected. Then irysangel came up with another step of pain and Pheael adds still another! (Holds head and screams.) Stop, stop stop! Is there no end to the angst?

MelancholyMan
05-06-2008, 10:39 PM
All rejections stink, but I think the query rejection is the worst because it highlights the abject failure of the system. (Because there is no system.) It isn't a rejection of your work, it is a rejection of the opportunity to look at your work. Whereas a buddy of the rejector could have had slop that would get read instantly. And, if the bookstores are any indication, published.

Over time though, you'll come to find that all rejections are equal as long as you understand that someone asking for a partial or full brings you NO CLOSER to getting published. NO CLOSER. There is no close. There is contract. And there is no contract. No middle ground exists outside your head. Remember that. Live by it. Never get your hopes up. Ever. Because if you let them soar, they will crash twice as low. Just remain calm and keep your eyes focused firmly on the prize no matter how far away it may seem, and someday you may wake to find it is in your hands.

-MM

KikiteNeko
05-07-2008, 04:39 PM
I guess it depends on the experience behind the rejections. Query rejections used to bother me, but then I got requests from my queries and realized it wasn't a horrible query it was just a subjective business. Then partial rejections used to bother me the most, because I thought there must be something in those early chapters to kill the story. But then I got a full request I'm still waiting on. And I think that would hurt the most to have a full rejected if that agent was interested through the query and the partial, because then I had the benefit of the doubt and I'll feel like I really blew it.

Bourgeois Nerd
05-08-2008, 06:59 AM
I guess it depends on the experience behind the rejections. Query rejections used to bother me, but then I got requests from my queries and realized it wasn't a horrible query it was just a subjective business. Then partial rejections used to bother me the most, because I thought there must be something in those early chapters to kill the story. But then I got a full request I'm still waiting on. And I think that would hurt the most to have a full rejected if that agent was interested through the query and the partial, because then I had the benefit of the doubt and I'll feel like I really blew it.

That seems true. They all sound like different levels of hell. It reminds me of Miles from the movie Sideways. He has an agent who has given his novel to a publisher to consider, then he gets rejected. He goes off and drinks really nasty wine, then compares himself to a smudge of excrement on a piece of toilet paper floating out to sea with tons of raw sewage. Man, who needs this!

(small voice) We do. We're writers.