Monday, November 22, 2010

Careful What You Wish For

For those of you who actually read my blog (all one of you), you know that in one of my earlier posts I touched on rejection etiquette writers would love for agents to follow.  Of course this was all tongue in cheek and done in jest.  I know there is no realistic way an agent can personally respond to every query they receive. And after a rejection letter I received over the weekend, I don't think I want those personal responses.

In the last four weeks, I've been inundated with rejection letters from prospective agents.  Though I haven't counted in a while, and yes I've counted before, I'd estimate I've sent out nearly sixty query letters.  This is all electronic queries only.  I like to start with those agents who take email submissions as it's a bit of a time and postage saver. With all these queries going out, the more likely it is that I'll be rejected.  In the past few weeks, I've received many form letters.  Some have even started with "Dear Author", which I'm not ashamed to say miffs me a little since many agencies include the guideline that querying authors must address the agent by name and cannot resort to "Dear Agent".  However, I digress as usual. The point is I get a lot of rejection that's bland and impersonal.  Before it even started this round, I posted an article saying that it would be nice to have some idea of why I was being rejected.  Nothing irks me more than:

"Dear Author, Please forgive this impersonal reply, but as you can imagine we receive so many submissions that we haven't the time to offer a personal reply to each of those. We have carefully evaluated your submission and do not feel the project is right for us. Do not let this discourage you as this business is subjective and another agent may feel differently. We wish you all the success in your work."

Now, I have to wonder how carefully my submission was evaluated when the intern they're probably not even paying to send out the rejections hasn't even included my name in the reply. Again, I'm getting off track. Just a thought though.

So, we get to the heart of my rant this week when the impossible happened. I actually got a letter from an agent who told me exactly why she was passing on my project.  In her words: "The YA market is very competitive, and I don't feel your work can compete in today's market." If this response was based on my query letter alone, I'd offer her the one finger salute and go on another rant about how unfair it is for agents to pass on projects based on queries alone.  I'll save that rant for another time. Instead, I offer you this little nugget.

Be careful what you wish for.  Ever since I entered the professional writing market I've been insisting that agents owe it to writers to explain the real basis of their rejection. This past weekend, it happened for me, and it stung.  Maybe those "Dear Author" replies aren't so bad after all.

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