Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Rejection equals Happy? Who Knew!?!

So, querying is hard. Many of you know this. Many of you have been there done that, and many of you will at some point experience it if you have not yet gotten to that point (unless you are one of the super duper "lucky ones"). 

I'm not going to spend forever telling you how sucky it is to receive a rejection letter, or even worse, the dreaded, "form letter". Those of us who are riding the Query Highway or have been on that road before know how much they suck butt. However, I recently received a form rejection letter from a particular agent (I would never say who cause that would be inappropriate) that actually put a huge HUGE smile on my face. 

So you know how sometimes agents will break down a query letter to show what's working and not working for them? I thought I'd try it with this rejection form letter and share with you why it totally put a smile on my face :-).

Dear Author, This does not bother me at all. My name wasn't used, (thus my assuming it's a form R and not written to me personally), but hey! The agent referred to me as an author!!! WIN!

First, my apologies for this form e-mail response, and for the delay in getting back to you. Wow. An apology? Seriously? How awesome is that? This agent is showing me how much s/he cares. S/he acknowledges just how stressful this process is to me and apologizes for causing me to open my email 5,837 times since sending my query letter. :-) (Okay, so I might be exaggerating a little. It was more like 4, 582 times)  The huge volume of queries that I receive makes it impossible for me to individually respond except concerning projects that I wish to pursue. Hey, I totally get it and I totally forgive you because you've already made me so happy. You called me an author and apologized for the form R and for a delayed response! For one reason or another, your project does not seem right for my list. Drats. Aww, well. If I don't fit your list, I don't fit your list. What can I do? At least you have a list and have made it clear to me that you are looking for something specific and there isn't just one particular reason my project doesn't seem right. Maybe my next project will fit your list! 

Publishing is a complicated business, Wait a minute. So you mean to tell me that you've already rejected me and now you are going to go on and explain why? YOU ROCK AGENT DUDE/TTE! and the response of any individual agent—or indeed dozens of agents—is not necessarily a comment on the inherent value of the project or your skill in telling it.  So, let me get this straight. You are admitting to me that even though my project has been rejected by a couple of DOZEN agents, that it is not necessarily a reflection of the value (friggin love that word!) of my work or story telling ability? I mean, I've had sooooo many writer friends tell me to not give up and keep querying and revenge query and I've read about successful authors who queried 50, 60, or even 100 or more agents before they found that one agent who believed in their story. So you, an agent, are telling me to not give up??? I LOVE YOU MR/MRS AGENT WO/MAN!! It's one thing to have my writer friends tell me to not give up, but to hear an agent say it? Whew. That is totally reassuring! Every agent has individual tastes, a unique workload, and particular business requirements. Hmm. Interesting. I know that agents have individual tastes, but a unique workload and particular business requirements? Not totally sure what that means, but you know what? Somehow this REALLY makes me feel better. It's not JUST about tastes. It's not just the fact that you might think my story sucks butt. There are other factors that go into the decision of why you might be rejecting my particular project.  

Best of luck finding the right agent and publisher for your work. And best of luck to you Mr./Mrs. Agent person. May you find the perfect story that fits your list, your taste, your workload, and your particular business requirements. That must be so stressful for you to find someone's work that has all those things going for you at once!

Sincerely, And I totally believe you mean this word. I mean, maybe you don't, but you know what? You made me feel happy. Who knew being rejected could actually put a smile on my face. :-) 

So, this is not to knock the other form R letters I have received. Some of the others have been really nice as well, but there was just something about this particular one that gave me the inner strength and courage to keep going and to not give up. Something that is really needed when you have gotten to that "dozens of agents" point and start to wonder if it's time to throw the towel in. The answer is no. 

Time to get out some more queries :-)


  1. I've gotten some kindly rejections as well, including one that really spoke to me with "Onward!" written on it. It was handwritten on the master they photocopied, but still--it was a timely reminder that this submission and rejection was only one waystation in the journey.

    What's really interesting to me is that these form rejections that you and I consider to be a relatively positive experience are the same ones that other people reply to with vitriol. You know, where they write the agent back and spew vicious things about their intelligence, taste, lineage, and business acumen. Way to persuade them to change their mind!

  2. Glad that this R got you up and running! I think that I got one similar to this before, although not exactly the same. Sometimes I feel inspired, sometimes I feel like they're all saying the same thing only worded slightly differently and sometimes I wish they'd just say sorry, not for me because then it doesn't leave you wondering. Actually I think the Rs I've liked the best are no response at all - then I can make up whatever excuse/kerfluffle I want that they didn't like it.

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