Wednesday, March 2, 2011


Yesterday an assistant to the literary agent of my dreams sent me a polite rejection e-mail. While a teeny little bit disappointed, I wasn't really surprised. The bigger disappointment was that the boiler-plate language was so unhelpful.

"We apologize for the long delay in our response and thank you for your patience." No problem. I know the literary agent of my dreams is busy. Besides, less than three weeks seems like a pretty quick turnaround.

"Please be assured we have carefully considered your project." Carefully my ass. If that were true, the assistant would have addressed the message to Mr. Crotchety rather than to my mother--the only Ms. Crotchety I know. Or maybe Ms. was a typo. Either way, nothing about it says careful to me.

"Unfortunately we don't feel the manuscript is right for us at this time." As I only sent the first 50 pages and am reasonably certain the assistant never even opened the attachments, it must have been something I said in the query letter. Or maybe it was something I didn't say. "Not right for us" could mean anything.

"Because we receive more than 200 submissions per week, it is necessary to be extremely selective on a very subjective basis." In other words, they can do whatever they want and it is pointless to argue with them. Gotcha.

"We wish you the best of luck. There are numerous excellent agents that might be the right fit for your manuscript. Don't give up!" Where we face-to-face I could no doubt find someplace where my manuscript would fit rather nicely...

The assistant just follows orders. Knowing a little more about exactly why he or she rejected my query would make this more of a learning experience. However, with more than 200 submissions a week I can understand why more specific feedback simply isn't possible.

Thanks to many of you, I know the manuscript is not the problem. Glass Houses is well-written with a story that keeps people reading to the very end. Is it a little long? Definitely. Could a professional editor cut out chapters and parts of chapters to improve the narrative? Absolutely.

The assistant never saw the manuscript. The problem is with the query. Until I can come up with a one-sentence hook that describes the book and makes people want to read it, the rejections will likely continue. Obviously I have some homework to do.

I said I wouldn't try another literary agent. I changed my mind last night and set about finding the first runner-up literary agent of my dreams. As you know, the first runner-up assumes the official duties in the event something happens to the literary agent of my dreams. Something happened...the bitch rejected me!

Within the next few weeks I hope to submit a completely revamped query and synopsis along with the first 50 pages to the new literary agent of my dreams. I'm allowed to change my mind. Call me fickle if you want, but most people call me...

The Crotchety Old Man


Anonymous said...

I know something about how you feel when waiting the better part of a year to be rejected by a "stiff-neck" editor. You work your rear end off to create something worth reading only to be snubbed without an explanation as to why. You may read a book that isn't nearly as interesting as yours. I feel ya. I'm not going to give up on my writing career. Don't you give up either. Good luck!!!

The Crotchety Old Man said...

Hey Anonymous...thanks for stopping by and for the comment. My query wasn't very good, and my one-page synopsis was worse. I'm trying to hook up with a local writer's group for hopefully more knowledgeable feedback.

CathyB said...

Well, phooey. I think most successful authors go through this in the beginning; probably the exception rather than the rule that one would get published on the first attempt.. even if it is the agent of your dreams. 200 submissions a week? Hmph. Thatsa lotta folks who think they can write. Sure makes it tough for us "real" writers.. know what i mean? :-)

Well... just like all the guys who could have had me but moved on... (stupid idiots...) the agent just didn't know what she had!! But just like I THANK all those idiots for passing me by, thereby allowing me to be available when my Prince came along, you will be thanking the agent of your dreams for passing you by one day. because something bigger and better is out there for you. even if it's just learning how to perfect your one-liner and your synopsis. that is a giant skill to hone, one you'll be needing for future work!! hang in there, COM. it will happen. cathyb

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