I have been reading a couple of submissions lately that I am sure other agents and editors have faced. These are those submissions where there are a lot of things you like, but then you still have some lingering doubts about the story. These could be characters that something just isn't working right, or plot elements that might be in a different direction than we are normally used to.
So what do we do?
The first thing I do is determine if these are solutions that truly can be fixed. The writing may be great, but if it is going to require literally a start to finish re-write, then it might not be worth it. The story might work for someone else, but I personally do not think it is fair to make the writer go through a full re-write on a gamble like this.
I might also think if there are ways I could pitch the story to an editor to get them to see past some of the issues. Look, there are a lot of stories out there that break molds and try new things. But in a tough competitive market, it takes a lot of convincing. In one of the last submissions, when I was faced with this scenario, I had to determine if there was a way I could get an editor to look a bit further.
In some cases, I might totally love the story or the concept, but I might have to question if the market is really ready for a story like that. This is one of those market research type of situations.
I do want you to understand, we do not just throw out the decision without thinking about it. These are always tough calls and sometimes, we do spend days thinking about it. I promise.