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PhoenixAngel
12-11-2009, 08:31 PM
I've recently been sending out queries for my urban fantasy novel. I've been getting a lot of rejections, no requests for more, just rejections. The thing about all my rejections is they all say things like, this just isn't for me but thanks for considering me. Here's an example:

Thanks so much for your query--you write a very appealing query letter!--but your project is not for me at this time.
Best of success in your writing, and in finding the perfect advocate for your work.

What does this mean? Does it mean my work is horrible?

scarletpeaches
12-11-2009, 08:35 PM
It's a form rejection.

PhoenixAngel
12-11-2009, 08:45 PM
So it's just the same thing they tell everyone else?

firedrake
12-11-2009, 08:47 PM
So it's just the same thing they tell everyone else?

Yes, and variations thereof.

have you posted your query in SYW? There may be something that is stopping your letter from generating interest.

YAwriter72
12-11-2009, 08:47 PM
Yes.

DeleyanLee
12-11-2009, 08:49 PM
Yes, it's one of the polite ways of rejecting someone. The only thing I'd take from it is that my query letter doesn't need to be rewritten and keep submitting.


Good luck.

PhoenixAngel
12-11-2009, 08:59 PM
No, I haven't posted my letter in SYW. I sent the agents the prologue and the first chapter. I don't know if I needed more action or if it was my writing itself. I would have loved one of those rejections that told me why I was rejected.

Parametric
12-11-2009, 09:03 PM
No, I haven't posted my letter in SYW. I sent the agents the prologue and the first chapter. I don't know if I needed more action or if it was my writing itself. I would have loved one of those rejections that told me why I was rejected.

It could be that. It's kind of tough to judge at the moment. Lots of form rejections suggests to me that something is really wrong - maybe your query isn't so great, or your prologue is a giant infodump, or your writing needs improvement, or your word count is 300,000 words, or something else. If you post your query in Query Hell (http://www.absolutewrite.com/forums/forumdisplay.php?f=174) and your prologue and/or first chapter in the appropriate SYW forum (http://www.absolutewrite.com/forums/forumdisplay.php?f=26) we can try and help you figure out what's wrong.

PhoenixAngel
12-11-2009, 09:08 PM
I'm kind of nervous about putting something I want to get published on here. I'd feel more comfortable sending it to one person and having them look it over if they want to.

Parametric
12-11-2009, 09:30 PM
I'm kind of nervous about putting something I want to get published on here. I'd feel more comfortable sending it to one person and having them look it over if they want to.

I hope you'll change your mind - while nobody can 100% guarantee that work shared with writing groups is safe, plagiarism is so rare as to be basically unheard of. Also, you might find it more helpful to have lots of opinions rather than just one, so you can see which issues are arising consistently.

That said, I appreciate your nervousness, and I'm happy to look at your query privately if you like. Feel free to send it in a private message. You might also try other Query Hell veterans like jclarkdawe, katiemac, suki or Cyia.

Cricket18
12-11-2009, 10:09 PM
Feel free to pm me--I'd be happy to look at your query.

:)

kuatolives
12-12-2009, 12:17 AM
Most people have a tendency to rewrite their queries and opening pages till they are blue in the face but its been my experience that it's the concept that is being rejected instead of the quality of your work. Do a few rewrites and resubmissions if it eases your sense of uncertainty but don't dwell on it for too long.

PhoenixAngel
12-12-2009, 02:28 AM
Yes, I rewrote the first the parts I was unhappy with, and looked at it again as a whole. Hopefully it's better now. I've resubmitted it since I edited(to different agents) and haven't heard anything yet.

Bushdoctor
12-16-2009, 03:35 PM
keep trying

kaitie
12-16-2009, 03:49 PM
Just writing to say I'm someone else who wouldn't mind looking over your letter or the part you're submitting, if you're still looking. Good luck. :)

PhoenixAngel
12-20-2009, 10:04 PM
I got two more rejections, one stated that I shouldn't have any trouble finding an agent for my work, but the agency was so packed she couldn't accept my work.

Parametric
12-20-2009, 10:05 PM
I got two more rejections, one stated that I shouldn't have any trouble finding an agent for my work, but the agency was so packed she couldn't accept my work.

That sounds like another form rejection.

thothguard51
12-20-2009, 10:13 PM
Very few agents will come out and tell a writer submitting to them that they suck... This query and submital may suck, but a future submital by the same author may be the perfect match for the agent. So, they are polite in their rejections because they do not want to alienate a potential client in the future...

Remember...its a business.

PhoenixAngel
12-21-2009, 05:30 AM
Very few agents will come out and tell a writer submitting to them that they suck... This query and submital may suck, but a future submital by the same author may be the perfect match for the agent. So, they are polite in their rejections because they do not want to alienate a potential client in the future...

Remember...its a business.
So basically the work is bad, but not bad enough to turn me away forever?

triceretops
12-21-2009, 05:50 AM
Wouldn't say the work is bad at all--it's too subjective a decision, and you haven't received enough real feedback about the craftsmanship of your writing. Sounds like the query. And I agree after 140 rejections on just my last novel, with Kuatolives, who said that concept/premise is probably the first rejection point to any query. Make/craft your concept to appear really original or unique--something that stands out.

Tri

PhoenixAngel
12-21-2009, 05:54 AM
Wouldn't say the work is bad at all--it's too subjective a decision, and you haven't received enough real feedback about the craftsmanship of your writing. Sounds like the query. And I agree after 140 rejections on just my last novel, with Kuatolives, who said that concept/premise is probably the first rejection point to any query. Make/craft your concept to appear really original or unique--something that stands out.

Tri
I think that is part of my problem. I plan to keep revising it, but I think I have problems with querying.

triceretops
12-21-2009, 06:42 AM
You're amongst honorable family here. Throw that query up in Query Hell and let the pros help you out. Believe me, I've been that route and have been shreaded--all in the most useful and professional way. I owe my query success to the folks at AW--heck, they're in my dedications.

Nothing to lose, but everything to gain.

Happy query-go-round,

Tri

kuatolives
12-21-2009, 10:03 AM
If 5 people read your FULL manuscript from start to finish and say its crap THEN think about revising, but don't revise just because no agents are responding to your queries. I used to do this and it's a colossal waste of time. And sending the first 3 chapters along with a query letter because that happens to be in their submission guidelines, in my opinion, does not count as a partial request. If there is no evidence to support someone having read a line of your book, they probably haven't. (Basically unless someone mentions the main character's name in the rejection, don't think for a second they have read a line of it).

Remember, this is a business and agents and editors need to pay the rent like everyone else so they will naturally chase books that they think are profitable. This, more than not, starts with the premise than the implementation. Good stories sell, often very bad stories sell, but both good stories and bad are what is pitched on the back of a novel if it fits a certain public desire at that time.

Put yourself in the place of some moneygrubbing scumbag agent for a second. If you want to make money, which is your primary concern, what do you think is a better algorithm for success?

Method 1:
Read a query letter from the slush. It sounds interesting, so I'll give the pages a read. The pages aren't bad, so I'll give the book a read. The book isn't bad, so maybe i'll take so and so on as a client. Now, WHO do I know that I can sell this book to? You send out the book and maybe some editor is interested and maybe he/she is not. Maybe the book sells, maybe it doesn't. Maybe you make a sale. Yay for you. Now you can eat for the week. Most new authors think this is the way it works and if they are not getting read its because the implementation of their story is weak. Not true.

Method 2:
I know this editor is looking for a book on vampire basketball players. I go through the slushpile. Is this book about vampire baseketball playres? No? DELETE. No DELETE. No DELETE No. No. No. No. Wait! Here are four books on vampire basketball players, I'll request to see the the opening pages of this this this and this, take the best book of the lot, and pass it along to Editor_looking_for_basketball_vampires. In the time it takes me to go through the slush and read 5 books I think are wonderful and nice, I can hook 10 editors up with manuscripts in hand on subjects they are looking for AT THAT MOMENT.

I am not a literary agent but if I decided I wanted to be a parasite making money off of other people's hard work, that is the method I'd employ. I wouldn't give 2 shits about quality as long as its being bought. The books that sell are the books that pay the rent, not the trunked War and Peace's out there nobody wants but everybody thinks are wonderful in their silent unread misery.

Meanwhile, the authors of these books who got so callously overlooked are thinking their query sucks or their opening pages suck or they have too many adjectives or this or that, when not a single line was read past their concept, the book written off because it wasn't going to fill an immediate need Editor X had at that moment.

Definitely try hard to get read. Definitely query widely and aggressively and definitely make changes you think are appropriate, but don't just sit there and bang your head over the same manuscript making meaningless changes because you're trying to interpret silence as a commentary on your skill as a wordsmith. Give it a good solid try and then move on and write another book.

kuatolives
12-21-2009, 10:18 AM
One more way to think about publishing is like you're at a campfire telling stories. The first two people before you just told a ghost story. Then everyone looks at you waiting for you to tell a story. Inside your head you have thousands of anecdotes about all sorts of stuff, but only 2 ghost stories. What do you tell? You tell the ghost story, because that is what your audience is expecting. What was wrong with all the other stories? Nothing. Nothing at all. You rejected them all because they were the wrong stories for the wrong people at the wrong time.

But then 3 hours later people get tired of ghost stories so the whole theme switches. Ghost stories are out, stories about old boyfriends are in. You don't know when this shift is going to happen, it just happens. The ghost stories in your head now get rejected by you in favor of a story about some dick you used to date in high school ....

It's timing and luck and persistence.

CK Matthews
12-22-2009, 06:46 AM
From my experience, you have to make that query letter more unique than your novel. For years, I've been submitting the standard, somewhat "informative" letter, but I've had recent success with just being me and letting my personality shine across in my letter. All you can do is keep on trying. No one said destiny was going to be easy.

triceretops
12-22-2009, 06:55 AM
Someone suggested I spruce up my query by putting some voice/tone in it that reflects the mood of the piece. In my case I needed a little humor and irony. It threw me because I've also believed in that "structured/business letter" recommendation. Not so, it seems. Don't be afraid to lighten it up a bit. It helped me tons--my acceptance rate went up.

Tri

nighttimer
01-03-2010, 01:12 PM
So basically the work is bad, but not bad enough to turn me away forever?

You're assuming facts not in evidence. If your query is weak that may be enough to turn off a prospective agent from strong writing. While I understand your fear about sharing too much of your work out of fear of it being stolen, no one is going to steal a query letter.

Why not submit it here or by a PM to some of the other posters in this thread whom have graciously invited you to do? As someone who is in the process of crafting a query letter, I'd rather have someone here tell me what's wrong with it before I start mailing it out to agents and pissing them off.


I think that is part of my problem. I plan to keep revising it, but I think I have problems with querying.

That's understandable because those are two different disciplines. Learning how to navigate and pass and merge in freeway traffic is different than parallel parking, but it's hard to do both perfectly the first time (and you're always scared you'll screw up).

There are no shortage of resources here on Absolute Write on how to write a query letter and how not to look like a idiot while doing so. The nature of this endeavor is that there is a creative side (the writing) and an entrepreneurial side (the selling of the writing and writer). Meshing the two isn't always a easy or pain-free process.

Use all the tools in your toolbox PhoenixAngel. The fact that you're here is proof you're aware you can learn from those of us who are and have been where you are going.

Nobody here can write your query for you (well, I guess they could, but you get what I mean). But the best advocate for you work is you, so you have to be bold, aggressive and determined that you're not going to let the 99 "no's" stop you from finding the one "yes."

Ken
01-03-2010, 01:29 PM
I've recently been sending out queries for my urban fantasy novel. I've been getting a lot of rejections, no requests for more, just rejections. The thing about all my rejections is they all say things like, this just isn't for me but thanks for considering me. Here's an example:

Thanks so much for your query--you write a very appealing query letter!--but your project is not for me at this time.
Best of success in your writing, and in finding the perfect advocate for your work.

What does this mean? Does it mean my work is horrible?



... 'form rejection,' as others have said. However, some agents have stacks of different form rejections to fit the occasion, I'd suppose. (I know some editors do at least.) So the feedback is real feedback; though diluted via its generic-ness. I'd pay it a bit of mind, as such, and conclude you're either sub'ing to the wrong agents with your project, or something is out of juncture with your basic premise or storyline in respects to the project's marketability in their eyes, which may only have to do with the way you're presenting it in your query. That's my guess.

PhoenixAngel
01-16-2010, 02:30 AM
Thanks for all the advice. I recently got a rejection where the rejector called me by the wrong name.

Judg
01-16-2010, 02:45 AM
I don't think kuatolives reads very many agent blogs. Neither Method 1 nor Method 2 sound very realistic. However, he is definitely right that agents look for something they can sell. They have to pay their bills like everybody else.

You can't learn anything useful at all from form rejections, except that they said no. The only time agents normally will give personalized feedback on somebody they're rejecting is when that person was only inches away from the finish line, and they really want to tell you what you need to do to get over the line. It is a wonderful compliment to get that kind of feedback. Other than that, they aren't going to do it. It's way, way too time-consuming and bitter experience has taught them that it only encourages the crazies to argue harder.

I also think the characterization of agents as moneysucking scumbags is, for the most part, totally unfair. And I've even been burned by a couple of agents. The vast majority of authors are very grateful to their agents and consider that they've earned every penny of their commission. Agented authors also make much more money, because agents actually understand what the market conditions are and what all those sneaky little clauses in your contract mean in practical terms.

skippingstone
01-16-2010, 03:24 AM
So what are we to make of rejections that mention things like "Much to admire here" or "you're a very good writer." Are these also form rejects? Do they tell everybody that?

(Just to be clear: Please tell me the answer is no. AHHH! I could live for a year on dew and one compliment from an agent.)

Judg
01-16-2010, 03:44 AM
Safer to assume that it's a form letter unless they mention something specific about your work or the comments are handwritten. Personally, I don't think they should say things like that in form letters, but they don't consult with me. (Note to agents: my rates are reasonable.)

triceretops
01-16-2010, 06:05 AM
Thanks for all the advice. I recently got a rejection where the rejector called me by the wrong name.

I just got a full request yesterday from an agent who said, "Wow, Martin, you really have me hooked on these pages. Please send the full."

I scrolled down just to make sure she was talking about my book and not someone else's and answered back, "I'm Chris, but I'll be Martin if you want, or even your huckleberry from here on out. Sending full, per instructions."

Who knows, she might have had her boyfriend or husband on her mind.

Tri

suki
01-16-2010, 06:18 AM
So what are we to make of rejections that mention things like "Much to admire here" or "you're a very good writer." Are these also form rejects? Do they tell everybody that?

(Just to be clear: Please tell me the answer is no. AHHH! I could live for a year on dew and one compliment from an agent.)

Those are probably form rejections...the only time you should assume it's not a form rejection is if the rejection mentions specific character names or plot points from your book.

Agents do usually have a stable of various rejections - even three or four or more forms, depending on the reason for rejecting - but trying to decide what the form means will drive you crazy.

BUT, if you have sent a good amount of queries (for sake of discussion, 25+) and you have had no partial or full requests, and only form rejections, then I think it is time to get some more betas/SYW readers to read and critique your query and first chapter. Make sure both are hooking your readers or make revisions. Double check your word count and that you are querying the book as the correct genre (ie, the agents you are querying represent books like yours).

Then send some more - and keep doing that in rounds.

And, in the meantime, in between rounds, start a new book.

~suki

PurpleSage
01-16-2010, 06:53 AM
I've been getting more requests for the full manuscripts of both my novel and memoir by spending time researching agents (after looking up the general info in The Writers' Market) by reading their blogs, columns, interviews, and of course looking here at AW to see what people say about the agent. Sometimes I read the books that similar to mine that the agent has also handled. The books are usually on his/her website.

Once I get the most RECENT information about what the agent is looking for I see if it matches what I'm offering. Then I quote whatever the agent says in my cover letter about what s/he is looking for and explain that I have THAT book.

No takers yet, but one agent is reading my novel and another is reading my memoir. Two other agents are waiting for my exclusivity agreement to run out ( a mistake that I will not repeat) with the potential agent for the memoir. Read Ms. Snark's blog to find out why this was a mistake.

I do think you should let the other writers read your query letter. I would also be happy to look at it in the group or privately.

Jamesaritchie
01-16-2010, 09:27 PM
No, I haven't posted my letter in SYW. I sent the agents the prologue and the first chapter. I don't know if I needed more action or if it was my writing itself. I would have loved one of those rejections that told me why I was rejected.


If the agents are reading chapter one, but still aren't asking for a full, then chapter one is not doing the job it's supposed to do. It may be the writing itself, it may be where the novel begins, it may be the way the story is told, etc., but there's a problem somewhere.

The prologue may be the problem. I think prologues are good, if they really are prologues, and not just material the writer doesn't know how to work into chapter one or the rest of the book, but an unnecessary prologue, or a prologue that isn't a true prologue, can kill interest fast.

A long prologue, more than three or four pages, can also kill interest fast.

Agents have many reasons for not telling a writer why something was rejected. The number one reason, of course, is poor writing and/or poor storytelling, and there's just no point in telling a writer this. Another reason is that the agent just doesn't know what to say because the only reason she has for rejecting something is the old "just didn't hold my interest."

Whatever the reason, if the agents are reading your prologue and first chapter, but still aren't requesting fulls, then you have a problem with one or the other, maybe both, and you need to let some people look them over.

Jamesaritchie
01-16-2010, 09:32 PM
If 5 people read your FULL manuscript from start to finish and say its crap THEN think about revising, but don't revise just because no agents are responding to your queries. I used to do this and it's a colossal waste of time. And sending the first 3 chapters along with a query letter because that happens to be in their submission guidelines, in my opinion, does not count as a partial request. If there is no evidence to support someone having read a line of your book, they probably haven't. (Basically unless someone mentions the main character's name in the rejection, don't think for a second they have read a line of it).

Remember, this is a business and agents and editors need to pay the rent like everyone else so they will naturally chase books that they think are profitable. This, more than not, starts with the premise than the implementation. Good stories sell, often very bad stories sell, but both good stories and bad are what is pitched on the back of a novel if it fits a certain public desire at that time.

Put yourself in the place of some moneygrubbing scumbag agent for a second. If you want to make money, which is your primary concern, what do you think is a better algorithm for success?

Method 1:
Read a query letter from the slush. It sounds interesting, so I'll give the pages a read. The pages aren't bad, so I'll give the book a read. The book isn't bad, so maybe i'll take so and so on as a client. Now, WHO do I know that I can sell this book to? You send out the book and maybe some editor is interested and maybe he/she is not. Maybe the book sells, maybe it doesn't. Maybe you make a sale. Yay for you. Now you can eat for the week. Most new authors think this is the way it works and if they are not getting read its because the implementation of their story is weak. Not true.

Method 2:
I know this editor is looking for a book on vampire basketball players. I go through the slushpile. Is this book about vampire baseketball playres? No? DELETE. No DELETE. No DELETE No. No. No. No. Wait! Here are four books on vampire basketball players, I'll request to see the the opening pages of this this this and this, take the best book of the lot, and pass it along to Editor_looking_for_basketball_vampires. In the time it takes me to go through the slush and read 5 books I think are wonderful and nice, I can hook 10 editors up with manuscripts in hand on subjects they are looking for AT THAT MOMENT.

I am not a literary agent but if I decided I wanted to be a parasite making money off of other people's hard work, that is the method I'd employ. I wouldn't give 2 shits about quality as long as its being bought. The books that sell are the books that pay the rent, not the trunked War and Peace's out there nobody wants but everybody thinks are wonderful in their silent unread misery.

Meanwhile, the authors of these books who got so callously overlooked are thinking their query sucks or their opening pages suck or they have too many adjectives or this or that, when not a single line was read past their concept, the book written off because it wasn't going to fill an immediate need Editor X had at that moment.

Definitely try hard to get read. Definitely query widely and aggressively and definitely make changes you think are appropriate, but don't just sit there and bang your head over the same manuscript making meaningless changes because you're trying to interpret silence as a commentary on your skill as a wordsmith. Give it a good solid try and then move on and write another book.

You definitely are not an agent, and know absolutely nothing about them, how they work, or why they work. And with your attitude, then for the sake of the agents out there, I really hope none of them take you on. They have enough troubel as it is.

Toothpaste
01-17-2010, 02:19 AM
Yes, I was going to say. Method 2 is pure and utter fiction. A demonstration possibly of your ability as a creative writer but not remotely reflective of the truth (though it might reflect a lot more about your personality if you think method 2 is the model for success and if you were an agent this is what you'd choose . . . I have yet to meet an agent who didn't love books, and wasn't in the industry to work with authors he/she respected and who wrote work they loved. Now this might not be good business in your mind, but thankfully it reflects a far less callous outlook than you have). Oh and calling agents parasites. . . okay I'm sorry that is so beyond ridiculous and reflects how you probably have never met an agent in person nor worked with one. I'd like to see you call your agent a parasite after she's gone back and forth with you on some truly brilliant edits and made your book shine, organised a strategy with you to get the best possible submission plan, has orchestrated it so that you get an awesome offer on your book, and negotiated a contract for you.

DennyCrane
01-17-2010, 08:35 PM
Yes, I was going to say. Method 2 is pure and utter fiction. A demonstration possibly of your ability as a creative writer but not remotely reflective of the truth (though it might reflect a lot more about your personality if you think method 2 is the model for success and if you were an agent this is what you'd choose . . . I have yet to meet an agent who didn't love books, and wasn't in the industry to work with authors he/she respected and who wrote work they loved. Now this might not be good business in your mind, but thankfully it reflects a far less callous outlook than you have). Oh and calling agents parasites. . . okay I'm sorry that is so beyond ridiculous and reflects how you probably have never met an agent in person nor worked with one. I'd like to see you call your agent a parasite after she's gone back and forth with you on some truly brilliant edits and made your book shine, organised a strategy with you to get the best possible submission plan, has orchestrated it so that you get an awesome offer on your book, and negotiated a contract for you.

I don't know what's worse - the attitude towards agents or the implication that editors blindly shovel into the stream of commerce anything the agent throws them, so long as it fits a minimal criteria of subject matter.

The moneygrubbing bit was nice, though. I know my agent flies his private jet to Paris every Thursday for lunch and to Rome on Wednesdays - but only to drive his Ferrari. I agree, their lavish lifestyles can be a little in-your-face at times.