Tuesday, January 22, 2013

A Rejection Doesn't Mean The Industry Is Out To Get You

Rejections from editors and agents totally suck! I get it! As an agent, we deal with rejections all of the time as well and remember, for us, we have to deal with it two times - once when we hear from the editor and once when we have to call our client. Along the same lines, editors and agents often will state that writing rejection letters is not an element of our career that we enjoy. We know you have worked hard on this project. We know of your desire to be published and be successful. We know how much of you is every page of that manuscript. Still, rejections are indeed part of this business. But, with that said, we have to remember that publishing IS a business and it is not an organization of the good ol boys out to ruin the lives of those who are not privledged. A rejection is not a sign of the establishment out to get you.

If you submit a project to me here at Greyhaus because you are interested in agent representation, there will be 5 reasons why I pass on a project.

  1. The story isn't what I represent In this case, the rejection comes as a result of poor research on the part of the author. Each agency as well as each publishing house has specific guidelines for the type of project they are looking for. This will certainly include the genre and word count, but it also goes further than that. There are certain characteristics of projects that need to be present. This is not because the business is against outside and innovative ideas. It is simply an issue of marketing the product. Therefore, if you submit something that we don't represent, or acquire, expect a letter. For example, at the time of this blog post, Greyhaus is currently open to only submissions for the Harlequin lines. For a writer, if you are not familiar with the lines, then the odds are you will be seeing a rejection from me. Oh, and by the way...sending a submission to an editor or agent that is closed to submissions, as well as sending a project to an editor that only accepts agent submissions, will result in a rejection.
  2. The story isn't right for the current market - The market shifts all of the time. What sells one year may not be the hot commodity on the market right now. Although your writing may be outstanding, if the project is something that simply will not sell right now, you will see a rejection. This goes for both the editors and agents. For writers, it is crucial to pay attention to all of the industry information and see if you have projects that fit the market.
  3. The story reads like everything else out there - In simple terms, we are looking for something that doesn't read like a carbon copy of everything else out there. No this does not mean so off the wall and out there. We want that unique twist and voice. I know all of you who have attended conferences have heard agents and editors say this time and time again.
  4. The story has flaws in character or plot development, or the writing is poor quality - Obviously this one comes down to the quality of the work. If the writing is poor, then we will be passing on this. Now, with that said, if editing is not your cup of tea, there are plenty of avenues to take to fix this. You can hire book doctors and freelance editors. Heck, if anything, cruise over to the local university and find some creative writing people that might be interested in doing the editing for you.
  5. The story simply didn't connect with me This is really the tough one. Sometimes what works for one editor/agent will not work for someone else. You want someone who will be 100% behind your book and simply falls in love with it. There are plenty of times that the rejection is simply due to a lack of connection with the person you sent it to. In this case, it comes down to personalities.
I think the one thing you should note here is that rejections are not coming because:
  • You were self-published
  • You were in e-publishing prior to this
  • Your age
  • Your sex
  • You might have disabilities
  • You're conservative, liberal or whatever
  • You are part of one writing group and not another
Rejections simply come down to the story.

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for this blog post. It's always interesting to hear what you agents have to say and what you're thinking as you read our query letters.