Monday, May 16, 2016

Sometimes It Is Just a Subjective Call

I know that authors always want to have a reason why we reject a story. I get it! "If I can fix something through revisions, maybe, just maybe the story will be right." But that isn't always the case. Sometimes, the decision to pass on a project is purely subjective. It just didn't work for us.

There are a lot of times when I see a premise of a story and it sounds fantastic. I request additional material and yet, when I read the story, it just doesn't work for me. Structurally, there is nothing wrong. The writing is fine and the plot is fine. But the connection between the story and the agent/editor is just not there.

I am sure you have read books and seen this as well. When you are finished reading a story, your only comment is, "It was a book." Not bad. Not good. Just there. That is what we are talking about.

For an author, you want someone who is going to be 100% behind your book. You want us raving so much about the project that we cannot stop talking about it. But if it isn't there, for you as an author, it isn't fair for us to take on that project. If the passion is not there, we may not be able to market it the way you want.

I will tell you, as an agent, when I get projects like this, I do go back and take a look a second time. Even as I get ready to write the rejection letter, I look it over a second time. There is a chance that maybe I was in a mood that day that kept me from becoming engaged in the story. Maybe I had just read a string of really bad projects. Who knows?

So, if you do get a rejection letter that doesn't give you much to work with, understand that is the nature of this business. Sometimes it just doesn't work, and that is the best we can do.


  1. It has taken me three books worth of rejections to begin to understand this:-).

  2. Good points to ponder. And, you are right that as readers, the same thing can happen. I've read books that won't let me go. And I've read books that, once finished, just make me shrug: i.e., "okay," but not all that engrossing. So, I guess that's good for us to keep in mind as writers.