So I’m at that joyous point of the querying process where the rejections are rolling in thick and fast. Now, I’m tough enough to accept rejection, but the hard part here is that, without exception, every email from an uninterested agent comes across as – and most probably is – a generic response with my name merely pasted to the top (although I did get one “Dear Author” email too. Nice). And even though us novice writers are told to expect rejection, it does knock your confidence a little when it’s relentless. Hence, these rejections and their detached nature began to make me feel a little despondent.
As a consequence of this (and the fact that I’m slowly running out of agency options) I was about ready to give up on a traditional publishing deal and head down the self-pub route instead (or just head down the pub). Whilst self publishing was always a plan B for me, it was still a prospect I’d hoped to avoid… and it was knocking the wind out of my follow-up novel too.
However, in the space of just a single email, my faith in my book was restored.
The email in question came in the form of a rejection – no big deal; just another to add to the pile – but this time it was a personal reply from the agent himself. He told me he enjoyed my work and really liked the writing, but that as a crossover novel somewhere between sci-fi and a classic British seafaring adventure, he couldn’t see himself successfully placing the book. Thus, his rejection was based entirely on business reasons. Fair enough.
What his email did do, though, was (a) put a human face behind this bastion of impregnability that is the literary agent, and (b) give me reason to feel that my book isn’t in fact a load of crap, but simply hard to market – and therefore a very hard-sell to agents. Of course this isn’t great news, but I was warned of such a dilemma by my editor, so it comes as no shock.
Nevertheless, the upshot of this is that from this single email with an explanation of exactly why my book was rejected, I feel rejuvenated and ready to continue the querying process with a new angle of attack and a rejigged manuscript.
Interestingly, something I also found amusing was that this was the exact same agent to whom I sent a query without actually attaching the manuscript. I thought that his email to inform me of such a blunder would be the last ever I heard from him. Thankfully it wasn’t. It didn’t end in a 10-book, six-figure deal, but there’s plenty time for that yet.
So, if like me you’re feeling down at the lack of progress with agents, don’t give up. One of the main reasons people fail is because they quit (much like I was ready to).
Thanks for reading.