Wednesday, May 03, 2006

Reality Rejections

I had a unique idea today. Okay, not that unique, but still...

Why not post to the blog some real reasons why I’ve rejected writers who queried me today? This would be something like reality TV. For fun, and for the lack of another name, let’s call it just plain “Reality Rejection.” Don't get me wrong, though, I am not poking fun here. This kind of help is what we all truly need: a demonstration--live--of what we are doing wrong. As is usual, I would like feedback--likes, dislikes, and such. No nasty comments, okay? You may be next. :)

Sent: Wednesday, May 03, 2006

Dear Mr. or Ms: (This is all that was used for the salutation.)

This one’s easy. Apparently this writer doesn’t care who his agent is. Just get me an agent, any old agent will do. Even a scammer would be okay cause I need an agent. Please do your research, writers and tailor your query to the best agent for your particular type of novel. Fishing with dynamite is illegal and shot gunning for agents should be. The last word: if you are going to query us, read our Web site first. Obviously this person didn’t.

Sent: Wednesday, May 03, 2006

There's a 22,500-word property for the juvenile market by a published author that I'd like to submit to you for possible representation.

Yes, I’m sure there is—somewhere—but not at 22,500 words there isn’t, especially if it’s not more clearly defined.

Sent: Wednesday, May 03, 2006

Killer style. As they say in the biz, you’ve got style, really. I shall leave that to your judgement.

If you are going to …”leave it up to my judgment.” I’m going to judge you on your spelling. It’s “judgment,” not “judgement.” And please don’t tell me what another writer says about your book or how many awards it’s won or how much your family or your neighbors loved it. Book markets encompass the entire world. It matters not what one person or even a group of people says about a book that has to be sold to a world audience. Unless of course, that person has world celebrity and can proclaim his/her adoration to a worldwide TV audience.

Sent: Wednesday, May 03, 2006

For this writer, I would have to copy the entire novel description and that would be embarrassing. The reason I rejected this work was because he/she sent me a paragraph that told me nothing about the important details of the work and all about the person—what contests the novel had won, how much the era it was written in intrigued him, etc. Can you imagine this on a book cover? How many readers would turn to page one?

Sent: Wednesday, May 03, 2006

I have completed a novel in a genre rarely seen.

And that genre is. . .? A genre rarely seen is probably not a genre at all—might you think?

Sent: Wednesday, May 03, 2006

Subject: sending the h.r. ms?

I pulled this one out of my spam filter. It catches anything that doesn’t have query or query letter or something with query in it in the Subject: line. I rejected this one anyway and not for this but for other problems. Don’t use something like this as a subject if you want me to read that query you spent so much time writing.

Sent: Wednesday, May 3, 2006

…professionally critiqued and has received its final draft. I have also completed a solid synopsis of the manuscript. It is ready to go. I would be happy to mail you a complete and bound copy of the book…

Okay, now it’s your turn. Tell me, in one sentence, what is wrong with this statement? I’ll give you a clue: It’s something that tells me this person is a very amateur writer.

This will just about do it for today. If you like this sort of thing, let me know and we’ll do more of it. Hope it helps.


Anonymous said...

Oooh, I loved this. Yes, please do more. And I know what's wrong. Bound copy. Never send bound copies.

DanStrohschein said...

I really enjoy this - it gives a lot of insight into what agents receive on a daily basis, and why things get rejected. I think it can do a lot of us well to know how to query an agent properly. Please continue, it is superb information.

My first observation is the professional critique. It's not necessary information. It only tells the agent that the author paid someone to tell him if their work is salable in that person's opinion. While I don't condemn paid coaching by someone who has industry credentials, it really wouldn't impress an agent.

Also, why would anyone want to submit anything that isn't in its final draft? Professional writers won't submit anything that isn't polished.

Then there is the bound copy. Never send bound copies. Just send the manuscript, printed on white paper with black ink, double spaced text, standard margins in a manuscript box (or electronically, if the agent asks for it that way).

If I were to rewrite this for this author, I would scratch the entire paragraph and replace it with 'A partial or full manuscript is available.'

Jude said...

Really useful. I love it. You're a discerning judge.

On that note may I quibble your judgment comment. Judgement is a variant of judgment - it's in the dictionary and it's the way I'd write the word, (maybe because I'm British). I wouldn't use the word when writing to an agent, especially you, now that I know its effect, but even so I wouldn't use it...Makes it sound too much like a court case, like you're passing sentence on some poor soul.... i.e. me:-(

Wylie Merrick Literary said...


NL Gassert said...


Little wonder agents are so picky when it comes to query letters and submission guidelines. If I had to read letters like these day in, day out, I’d have strict guidelines, too.

On the upside, rejections become a no-brainer. No “let’s see if this still catches my attention a week from now” pile.

Wylie Merrick Literary said...

We used to have "a-week- from-now" pile but had to give it up for Lent :').

Sariah S. Wilson said...

I hope you continue to do more of these - I find posting queries that did or did not work for you as an agent highly educational.

Anonymous said...

I couldn't agree more. I would love to see more of these, as you say, not for the harm factor, but rather very the enlightenment. You just brought me in, albeit briefly, on what it is like to be an agent. Yuck, I'd rather just write and leave the agenting up to honest folks like you. Thanks for the lesson.