Disclaimer: The following idea is coming to you fresh off four consecutive rejections in my email in box.
Having just finished my newest novel, I decided to jump back into the fray and try to secure an agent. I haven't tried this in about a year so I'd forgotten how bitter that rejection pill could taste. Like I said, I've been through this many times so I know what the cycle is going to be. At first, I start out hopeful. Then I get those first few rejections and a little of the hope fades, but I take it with a smile. By the end of the next round of rejections, I'll be alternating between crying and cursing. At the moment, I'm in the semi-hopeful, taking it with a grain of salt and sort of amused about it stage. In this stage, I hit on what I thought was a brilliant idea. Why not have guidelines agents must follow when rejecting writers?
Think about it. As writers, we're expected to follow an agent's submission guidelines to the tee or our project will be automatically eliminated. And no two agents want the same thing. One wants a two page synopsis while another wants a ten page synopsis. One wants the first three chapters, synopsis and query letter while the other wants the first fifty pages or first three chapters or whichever is less. Some even go as far as to have formatting guidelines- typed, double spaced, one inch margins on all sides, Times New Roman font, etc. If we have to follow their guidelines, maybe they could follow some for us. Here they are:
1) Do not use form letters or canned responses when rejecting an author. As a courtesy, please address the specific author you are rejecting along with the title of the rejected work.
2) Do not use standard phrases like "not a good fit for us" or "doesn't fit our current needs". This is really just a canned response that you've copied and pasted from thousands of rejections you've sent.
3) If you use the phrase "keep trying because another agent may feel differently", please be advised that you are expected to recommend the other agent whom you feel would be a good fit. In fact, you should get the ball rolling by forwarding the project to the potentially interested other agent.
4) You must give a brief summary of the reason for rejection as it relates to the novel. Canned responses will not be rejected. See items one and two.
5) Finally, when rejecting an author, please include a SASE so that the author may contact you to discuss the rejection.
Okay, there they are. Please take this as it is, a joke. Of course agents are inundated with submissions and can't really be expected to follow something like this and properly serve their clients. Still, on those days when I'm wallowing in the self-pity brought on by multiple rejections, it makes me smile to think about it.