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View Full Version : 6 Months later ......Rejected by AGENT



eldragon
03-26-2005, 03:05 AM
Mailed an entire manuscript to CANADA - by airmail September 9th, 2004. The agent said she was so excited to read it, because she had just returned from a Vegas vacation. She couldn't wait!

She got it by October ......I emailed her to ask, she said, yes ..it was there.

December 4th ... I asked her if she had read it, she emails me back "


Dear Pamela,

I know itís hard to wait as an author, but trust me when I say that we all have to do a lot of waiting in publishing. Iím going to try and get to it before the year is out but I am the only reader and I get about 5 to 10 submissions a day via email and post depending. I have yours in line but I have not yet had a chance to get to it.



If you want to have others look at it simultaneously, I do understand. Just keep me posted of how things progress as I have to do my submission reading on my free time of which there is very little. So I do ask writers to tell me if they are thinking of going elsewhere. Otherwise, I am doing all I can to get to this as soon as possible.




And then - TODAY - March 25th - I get this email :


Dear Pamela,



Many thanks for your submission and interest in TLA. After thorough consideration Iím afraid this doesnít sound right for my list. But I wish you the very best of luck with your writing endeavors in the future.

So .......I waited over 6 months for her to reject me. I had to copy my manuscript and send it airmail to CANADA. So, why after 6 months, doesn't it "sound right for her list?" Its not like she didnt' read several chapters before requesting it ... and it was "right for her list then."



Thanks for nothing!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Moondancer
03-26-2005, 03:08 AM
I'm sorry, that's gotta hurt. Makes one wonder when they say they are excited, then act like it's nothing later.

hapsburg
03-26-2005, 06:50 AM
Agents, in general and the idea of, are a ridiculous concept to me. Not right for their list? They have a list now? Shouldn't their list coincide with a publisher's list, ie. their list should simply be what's publishable and marketable? I'm surprised there isn't such a thing as sub agents, agents who know the lists of agents and shop your mss around to agencies in the hope of landing you an agent. Since when did agents become more important than publishers?

It's gotten to the point that even published authors have trouble finding representation. Agents seem to want authors to come to them with a published bestseller and all the work done for them. By that time, who needs em?

To agents everywhere I say, Bugger!

Don't let it get you down, the real victory is publication.

Hmmm...maybe I should become a sub-agent...

dragonjax
03-26-2005, 07:45 AM
Pamela,

First, my heartfelt sympathies. Rejection sucks, period.

Second, move on. You've gotten ONE rejection. Either file it or ditch it, but don't let it stop you. Keep querying. If your manuscript is marketable, you'll find an agent to represent you.

Third, try to see it from the agent's point of view. They get bombarded with unsolicited queries by snail mail and e-mail every day -- which they have to pour through, weeding out the possible diamonds from all the coal. If they're not swamped, they may attempt to respond with something more than a form rejection to the ones that show promise. (And remember, these are just the queries.) The 1 perent of queries that interests them, they then have to request either the partial or the full (depending on how they work) from the author, hoping that they won't be in competition with ten other agents for the same manuscript, and really hoping that it will be a good read. Meanwhile, of course, they have to represent their current clients: go to meetings, make pitches to editors, hold clients' hands during the submission process to publishers, etc. Oh, yes, and on evenings and weekends (because agents simply don't have free time during business hours), they have to read all those requested partials and fulls. How long does it take you to read a 300-page novel? Multiply that by, say, 10. Now read that much in one week. Out of those 10 submissions, let's say that one is good enough to read all the way through to the end. Terrific -- but is the market hot for this particular genre right now? No? Okay, then, a detailed rejection to the author, praising the work and the quality/caliber of writing, but unfortunately, you don't think it can sell right now. Oh yes, and now reject those nine other submissions...and pour through all the queries that have been building up...and take care of your clients...

What I'm really getting at here is that sure, we authors would give our eye teeth to get meaningful feedback that isn't vague, stuff that we could really sit down with and, after a few beers and good cries, we can actually use in our efforts to improve our stories. But we simply shouldn't expect such feedback. If we want the detailed review, we should find critique partners who can work with us to improve our stories. All we should expect from agents is a "yes" or "no." Anything else is a bonus.

(That being said, I, too, complain loudly when, after months of waiting, I get a form-letter rejection on either a partial or a full...or, better yet, a vaguely worded rejection that seems like it's personalized feedback yet is truly a carefully crafted form rejection. Like I said at the start, rejection sucks.)

So I'm passing you a box of virtual chocolates. I left you a few creme-filled milk chocolate ones (and those are my favorites). Keep querying, even when an agent is reading your full MS. And truly, the best of luck to you.

eldragon
03-26-2005, 09:03 AM
I actually had another agent (have...but he has one more month and our contract is up ....so far he hasn't gotten me published). I had sent this query to the one in Canada at the same time I got the one I signed with. I never told the Canadian one I had signed with an agent, I figured why bother?


Anyway , the agent I signed with is impersonable and new at it. Lets just say I'm shopping around again.

Before...I queried about 60 agents. I had two want to sign a contract, but one had no experience and didn't impress me after a few phone conversations. Oh, and there was a third scam artist who wanted a large check written to her to represent my work.

It's back to the drawing board. I am sick of this whole thing. I want my book published. I might self publish, because this whole agent thing is ridiculous to me. I thought writing the book would be the hard part. WRONG!

I am confident that a publisher could do well with it. It's a memoir about ten years as a Vegas Casino Cocktail server.

I figure, if I self publish, at least I can send the finished product around. It's easier than loose pages.

Lisa Y
03-26-2005, 02:55 PM
Pamela,

So sorry. :( Keep trying. Or chill for a while and then keep trying.

brinkett
03-26-2005, 06:12 PM
I want my book published. I might self publish, because this whole agent thing is ridiculous to me.
Have you gone to publishers directly? I'd go that route before self-publishing.

Fillanzea
03-26-2005, 06:40 PM
Agents, in general and the idea of, are a ridiculous concept to me. Not right for their list? They have a list now? Shouldn't their list coincide with a publisher's list, ie. their list should simply be what's publishable and marketable? I'm surprised there isn't such a thing as sub agents, agents who know the lists of agents and shop your mss around to agencies in the hope of landing you an agent. Since when did agents become more important than publishers?

It's frustrating, yes, but... agents are representing your book to publishers. If they have some abstract sense, 'this is marketable,' 'this is publishable,' that's not enough to represent a book well--they're doing your book a disservice if they accept it even though they don't feel a spark of passion and enthusiasm for the book.

Jamesaritchie
03-26-2005, 08:33 PM
Agents, in general and the idea of, are a ridiculous concept to me. Not right for their list? They have a list now? Shouldn't their list coincide with a publisher's list, ie. their list should simply be what's publishable and marketable? I'm surprised there isn't such a thing as sub agents, agents who know the lists of agents and shop your mss around to agencies in the hope of landing you an agent. Since when did agents become more important than publishers?

It's gotten to the point that even published authors have trouble finding representation. Agents seem to want authors to come to them with a published bestseller and all the work done for them. By that time, who needs em?

To agents everywhere I say, Bugger!

Don't let it get you down, the real victory is publication.

Hmmm...maybe I should become a sub-agent...

Agents have always had lists, and it IS the same list publishers have. When an agent says a novel isn't right for her list, she means "I don't think this novel is marketable or publishable, and in my opinion, no editor I know will buy it."

Whether a writer is published or unpublished, getting an agent means writing a book the agent thinks is marketable and publishable. And any good agent usually knows what she's talking about. The book probably isn't marketable or publishable with the editors she deals with.

But any agent and any editor can be wrong, so you look for another. If the novel really is any good, it will find an agent and a publisher.

Agents aren't more important than publishers, but they are one of the most important tools publishers have. And if you can't write something that will attract an agent, what reason is there to think it will attract a publisher?
It's much more difficult to attract a publisher than it is to find an agent. The agent isn't going to risk much money on you, but any publisher has to risk thousands of dollars to publish your novel.

There have always been gatekeepers. There always will be gatekeepers. Gatekeepers are absolutely necessary. Before agents became so big, publishers hired their own gatekeepers who performed the same basic task an agent performs, which is keeping the unmarketable and unpublishable manuscripts away from the editor, and letting the others through.

dragonjax
03-27-2005, 12:01 AM
Exactly. And these days, many editors are actually counting on agents to handle the initial edits on manuscripts so that the submitted stories are very clean when they first land on the editor's desk for review. Really. So agents are not only gatekeepers (and yes, there are tons of publishers who will not even consider a non-agented submission -- if it's not strong enough to land an agent's seal of approval, then why would it convince the editor, and the editorial board, and mostly those P&L gods, to buy that manuscript and take a chance on an unknown author?), they are also editors, to a degree.

Does this mean that agents are the be-all, end-all? Nope. They're only human, and liking a story is going to be a subjective thing. You could hand in something like ATLAS SHRUGGED, and while some agents would love it, others wouldn't touch it. Ditto with editors. Even the Big League Authors used to get rejections from publishers. I think Grisham had gone through about 20 publishers before he was able to sell A TIME TO KILL. And Rowling? There's a reason why she published with Scholastic and not one of the more traditional fiction publishers -- no one would touch a story about a boy wizard.

So, should a first-time author get an agent? Yes, if possible; a good agent can only help, especially when it comes time to negotiate the contract. Does not having an agent mean that a first-time author will not get published? No, of course not. Again, though, having a good agent increases the chance of publication. It by no means guarantees it.

Vomaxx
03-27-2005, 05:09 AM
If the novel is really any good, it will find an agent and a publisher.

How many people here believe this to be true?

I don't.

dragonjax
03-27-2005, 05:30 AM
How many people here believe this to be true?

I don't.
It would be nice if it were true. But sadly, these days a book has to be more than good to score an agent and a publisher. It has to be marketable. One senior editor mentioned to me that it's not enough for a manuscript to be excellent anymore -- editorial boards assume that the work is excellent, otherwise, the editor would not be making the pitch for an acquisition. The key is it must scream "money maker" to the publisher -- and the editor has to convince the acquisitions committee (editorial board, P&L folks, etc.) why that money maker is going to sell.

eldragon
03-27-2005, 06:23 AM
I think the hardest thing is getting someone to read it. The agents are so specialized ........they only read this , or they only read that.

And all this time, I thought writing a book would be the hardest part.


I guess it's always been hard. Bukowski couldn't anything published most of his life. He considered suicide, because nobody would print his books. It took the perserverance and money of a good friend to get him off the ground ... and I think he was about 50.


It's not like his screenplay "Barfly", where they are so anxious for his stuff they sneak into his room and photograph it.

pasoroblan2003
03-27-2005, 06:35 AM
Six months to get a rejection? That's terrible!Grrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr............. ......

arkady
03-28-2005, 05:48 PM
...we authors would give our eye teeth to get meaningful feedback that isn't vague, stuff that we could really sit down with and, after a few beers and good cries, we can actually use in our efforts to improve our stories. But we simply shouldn't expect such feedback. If we want the detailed review, we should find critique partners who can work with us to improve our stories.

I get very tired of hearing this.

It's certainly true that almost all of us would dearly love feedback on why we're being rejected, but that isn't the same thing at all as expecting detailed feedback.

Only a handful of idiots would seriously expect detailed critiques from agents. But a scrawled "unbelievable premise" or "weak main character" or "doesn't fit into any publishers' categories" or even "lousy writing" would be orders of magnitude more useful than "Dear Author, best of luck."

Over and over and over, many agents keep repeating the mantra that as-yet-unpublished writers are whiney retarded children who expect "detailed feedback" instead of xeroxed form rejection letters. Well, no doubt a tiny minority are. But all that the vast majority are asking -- not demanding, not expecting, just asking -- for is some very brief, generalized indication of why a given agent isn't interested, so we can get down to the business of making our manuscripts something that will interest an agent.

One more time, folks: We aren't "expecting detailed feedback." We are simply asking -- that's asking, not "demanding" or "expecting' -- for some concrete clue about what isn't acceptable about our manuscripts, so we can fix it.

Are we likely to get what we ask? Certainly not. It's a buyers' market, and the buyers will do what they damned well please, because they can. But the thing that we're asking isn't unreasonable or childish or immature, either, and it's simply self-hating masochism on our part to believe that it is.

dragonjax
03-28-2005, 06:21 PM
One more time, folks: We aren't "expecting detailed feedback." We are simply asking -- that's asking, not "demanding" or "expecting' -- for some concrete clue about what isn't acceptable about our manuscripts, so we can fix it.

Are we likely to get what we ask? Certainly not. It's a buyers' market, and the buyers will do what they damned well please, because they can. But the thing that we're asking isn't unreasonable or childish or immature, either, and it's simply self-hating masochism on our part to believe that it is.
Okay, a question: Why should an agent, who is swamped with work both from existing clients and potential clients, spend the time to read material that he or she is not going to represent, then give a "concrete clue" to the author -- whom the agent is not going to represent? What does the agent get out of this? Yes, right, gratitude from the author...whom the agent is not going to represent. Sure, it would be nice of the agent to provide some feedback. But authors still shouldn't expect it.

More important, what is this "concrete clue" that you're referring to? If you don't get specific feedback -- that is, detailed feedback -- then how are you supposed to improve your manuscript? Especially considering that feedback on a story is, ultimately, subjective, how will a vaguely worded response help you tell a better story?

Like I said in my original post, all we authors should expect from agents is a simple "yes" or "no." Anything else is a bonus -- whether a quickly worded rejection with a concrete clue as to why it didn't work for that agent, or, especially, detailed feedback that clearly outlines what didn't work for that agent.

clockwork
03-28-2005, 08:15 PM
Agents and publishers aren't going to give you a concrete clue about how to fix your work because they have no idea what that clue is. If they had that clue, they'd tell you what it is so you could fix it and they could represent/publish you.

Writing is a big mess of s*** and there are no defined rules as to how to make something work. Agents and publishers are just as in the dark about this as we are. Most of the time when they consider submissions, they only get a very generalised 'feeling' about the piece - whether it works or not or, more likely, can I sell this or not? That's the only thing they can be sure of; everything else is just conjecture. Furthermore, we all sort of assume there's something wrong with our work and we need the lofty wisdom of agents to set us right but if you're submitting your work to people it should already be in pretty good shape so why would you assume there was anything wrong with it in the first place?

When my now-agent was considering taking me on, he suggested a number of things about my various projects that I might do to make them better and I, feeling warmed in the healing light of The Agent, promised to consider them. When I was signed, however, he asked me if I actually wanted notes on my work in future. And if I did want notes, I had to understand they were just his opinion, they could easily be wrong and that I should never substitute his judgment on my work for my own. If he stringently believed my lead character was terribly flawed but I didn't, he said he would still try to sell the script because it's his job to sell me. I'm actually the least-conceited person you'll meet and so I knew that scenario would never play out. Anyway, I always seriously consider the opinions and feedback I get but everything is passed through that internal filter we all have and tested according to what I feel is right for the piece. Anyone can give you feedback but itís your decision as to how or even whether to implement it. Chances are good-to-great that most of the feedback you get will be so hastily-written and ill-considered (because they're so busy) that you wouldn't like or agree with it anyway or even worse, is the wrong thing for your work. The only time I would ever blindly change a piece based on someone's feedback would be if nine other people had suggested the same change before them. Then you know you've got a specific problem you can correct.

I know it's hard because we all want approval that what we're writing is good enough and on the right tracks but treat anything you get from agents and publishers as an interesting opinion you'll consider, nothing more. Don't rely on their feedback to improve your work.

eldragon
03-29-2005, 12:15 AM
Okay, a question: Why should an agent, who is swamped with work both from existing clients and potential clients, spend the time to read material that he or she is not going to represent, then give a "concrete clue" to the author -- whom the agent is not going to represent? What does the agent get out of this?



Why does everyone assume agents are so busy? They are probably like every other profession ... an hour's work for seven hours of drinking coffee and chatting with co-workers.

If an agent is representing ten people with ten books ... how much time would they have to spend on that book per week? Per month? Probably not much. Between dealing with publishers and the author ... what else are they doing?

Just curious if anyone knows.

dragonjax
03-29-2005, 12:33 AM
Why does everyone assume agents are so busy? They are probably like every other profession ... an hour's work for seven hours of drinking coffee and chatting with co-workers.

If an agent is representing ten people with ten books ... how much time would they have to spend on that book per week? Per month? Probably not much. Between dealing with publishers and the author ... what else are they doing?

Just curious if anyone knows.

Okay. In no particular order, an agent:

- Reads and responds to all client questions, phone calls and e-mails.
- Chases down answers for clients when s/he doesn't know the answer immediately.
- Negotiates contracts.
- Negotiates with editors, pushing for the best deal for his/her clients.
- Maintains good relations with foreign rights agents.
- Maintains excellent relations with many editors, including business lunches, meetings and conferences.
- Reads all client works and gives detailed feedback on those works.
- Pitches client works to editors, either individually or at auction.
- Gives clients updates on their works and next steps in the submission process.

And that's just for their current clients. Let's not forget:
- Reads and responds to all potential client requested submissions (including partials and fulls). That's anywhere from 50 pages to 600 pages, per potential client.
- Reads and sometimes responds to potential client questions/phone calls and emails.
- Reads the hundreds of queries that come in weekly via e-mail and snail mail, and requests material from the 1 percent of queries that show promise/spark interest.

arkady
03-29-2005, 01:00 AM
Agents and publishers aren't going to give you a concrete clue about how to fix your work because they have no idea what that clue is. If they had that clue, they'd tell you what it is so you could fix it and they could represent/publish you.

Writing is a big mess of s*** and there are no defined rules as to how to make something work. Agents and publishers are just as in the dark about this as we are. Most of the time when they consider submissions, they only get a very generalised 'feeling' about the piece - whether it works or not or, more likely, can I sell this or not? That's the only thing they can be sure of; everything else is just conjecture. Furthermore, we all sort of assume there's something wrong with our work and we need the lofty wisdom of agents to set us right but if you're submitting your work to people it should already be in pretty good shape so why would you assume there was anything wrong with it in the first place?

Actually, I don't. I'm confident that my current manuscript is a pretty appealing piece of work. But the submissions process is all about catching the subjective enthusiasm of first an agent, then a publisher. It seemed to me that having some better notion of what their subjective criteria were might make it easier to supply a product that pushed their subjective buttons. It must have worked for you, since you have an agent.

You seem to be saying, though, that their criteria are so subjective that they can't identify them themselves, and are therefore next to useless. It's a scary thought, but I think you make a pretty good case.


Chances are good-to-great that most of the feedback you get will be so hastily-written and ill-considered (because they're so busy) that you wouldn't like or agree with it anyway or even worse, is the wrong thing for your work...

I know it's hard because we all want approval that what we're writing is good enough and on the right tracks but treat anything you get from agents and publishers as an interesting opinion you'll consider, nothing more. Don't rely on their feedback to improve your work.

I'd like to ask for a bit of clarification if I might, since I think there are two distinct issues being improperly bundled together here, and it might be better if they were to be addressed separately:

Being "good enough" and being "on the right track" are significantly different. A given piece of work can be "good enough" in terms of being well written, yet still not meet the subjective "on the right track" critera for marketability.

In your opinion, can even agents' (and publishers') subjective notions of "the right track" (i.e., marketablity) be relied upon? If I read you correctly, the answer is "no," which is a fairly unsettling concept. But I'm willing to be corrected, especially by someone who has successfully negotiated the very tall hurdle of landing an agent.

SRHowen
03-29-2005, 02:01 AM
In your opinion, can even agents' (and publishers') subjective notions of "the right track" (i.e., marketablity) be relied upon? If I read you correctly, the answer is "no," which is a fairly unsettling concept. But I'm willing to be corrected, especially by someone who has successfully negotiated the very tall hurdle of landing an agent.

I've received rejections that said "This crap doesn't sell anymore." I received one that said take up one handed knitting. I received another that said in a long drawn out letter that leaning to write was like leaning down hill skiing. They went on to say things like I used too many exclamation points (one in the total ms) and so on. Nothing in any of the personal rejections I received would have helped me.

Do you have any idea how many ms queries an agent gets a day? Read the ask the agent thread to get an idea of what an agent does each day.

Why do you think they have time to give you detailed info about why THEY a particular agent rejected YOUR ms? You send, they read, and if it doesn't fit their needs they are going to reject it.

I have an agent. And after I signed my contract I did indeed get an editorial letter that told me what needed to be fixed to make my novel more commercially viable. My agent and I worked 6 months on the ms before he started marketing it.

I see a lot of reasons why agents reject manuscripts.

The biggest I'll call the exception to the rule. But so and so did it in thier ms and got away with it. Most often made in reference to formatting and in sending of just what's asked for. Follow industry standards in formatting, and send only what's asked for. Period.

The next is the but I know mine's good. Of course it is, you wrote it. We all think what we wrote is the next great thing. But even if it is--is it what that agent represents? And, yes some are that specific. But you need to do research to check out the authors that agent already reps and see if you book is anything like them. In my case I found an agent who represented another Native American author who wrote stories based on Native myth. Bingo.

It's easy to say hey all an agent does is sit on their duff and do nothing, but unless you have spent time in their shoes you really don't know what they do each day.

Yes, you can go directly to publishers, but you will not find any better feed back from them. And you will be left with just as long of waits with a publisher as an agent, maybe longer.

This is not a game of instant gratification--it takes time no matter what road you go down, agent or publisher. But an agent can shave time off that road--they can send out simu subs, they know what editors want what, they can go back to a publisher many times (to diff editors at that publisher) you are stuck with the acquisitions editor--a one shot deal at each publisher.

And ask yourself if you have time to keep sending out proposals while you write your next book? And agent does the work while you write.

Research is the key, find an agent that matches what you write--do that by looking into what they rep already.

Send only what they want, formatted how they want it--if no format guidelines are available follow industry standard not the exceptions.

Don't expect feedback. They aren't a crit group or a beta reader. Think about how you would feel if you had an agent and he didn't have time to market your ms because he was spending all his time responding to rejected submissions with feedback--hundreds of them.

Don't take it personally. Go on to the next.

A good book will sell, but it has to be commercially viable, it has to have the right agent and it has to hit the right editor.

And it takes time, lots and lots of time.

Shawn

clockwork
03-29-2005, 03:49 AM
In your opinion, can even agents' (and publishers') subjective notions of "the right track" (i.e., marketablity) be relied upon? If I read you correctly, the answer is "no," which is a fairly unsettling concept.

Bit muddled here I think. Yes, they can be relied upon because they certainly do know how best to market things. Where I think we may have crossed wires is that my original comments about agents having no clue was about the feedback they provide. I was trying to say that people shouldn't worry about feedback because any feedback you do get is usually on the level of "Did this work for me or not?" which certainly is subjective to the point of being redundant and issues of marketability, audience, costs etc don't even come into it. I think agents certainly do know what they're looking for but at the query letter stage it's just about whether or not it engaged them.

Being "good enough" and being "on the right track" are significantly different. A given piece of work can be "good enough" in terms of being well written, yet still not meet the subjective "on the right track" criteria for marketability.

Well, semantics aside, I just can't see an agent's reasoning for rejection being that multi-layered. If something is good enough they'll find a way to put it on the right track.


In reply to another post about how busy agents really are, I can only say what I know from my own experience but the agency I'm with has over a hundred clients. How many agents do you suppose work there? Three. And one assistant. And that's not because they're understaffed, I think that's pretty typical. So you can see that it would only take a phone call from a quarter of your clients on any given day to keep you more than busy. Add in everything else they get up to and around five thousand unsolicited query letters a year and to be honest, I don't know how they even get anything done at all.

SRHowen
03-29-2005, 06:35 AM
How many agents do you suppose work there? Three. And one assistant. And that's not because they're understaffed, I think that's pretty typical. So you can see that it would only take a phone call from a quarter of your clients on any given day to keep you more than busy. Add in everything else they get up to and around five thousand unsolicited query letters a year and to be honest, I don't know how they even get anything done at all.

The agency I have has around 50 clients--one agent and some interns thrown in, bout the same ratio. I often wonder how it is that he responds to my e-mails within an hr or less, many times instantly.

Shawn