Is it all about the manuscript? You bet! What we tell you at all of those conferences and workshops is true. It is all about the manuscript. But what exactly IS IT about the manuscript that we are looking for. Now, please understand that I cannot speak for other agents and editors out there, but I am pretty sure that I am saying rough the same thing they would say.
IS THIS MARKETABLE? This is a business of sales. If we can't sell it, then we don't acquire it. This might be due to a couple of things. One of those I am going to mention below. Let's just talk about the premise right now. I don't care how good the story is, if the market is not interested in such a project right now, we are not going to acquire it. This does not mean you cannot be a break out concept. It simply means that there needs to be something in your story that connects with things that are hot now and something that brings a new twist we have not see.
CAN I MARKET IT? This one is different. It simply means that I have to know, as an agent, that I have the connections and I understand the genre enough. This is why we tell all of the authors out there to know EXACTLY what that agent acquires. I recently read a submission that I think read pretty well. Do I know that subgenre enough? Probably not. For that reason, I passed on the project. As an author, you should not be pissed off by that decision. You want someone who can really support you. In this case, I was not that person.
YOUR WRITING Some of you writing amazing pitches. But if the writing is still in the "I am learning" stage, then I am going to pass on your project. You need to understand this. Writing is for everyone. Publishing is not for everyone. You can come up with some of the best concepts out there, but the execution is just not there. It may show up eventually. For some of you, the harsh reality is that writing may simply be a hobby. That is 100% OK!.
PROFESSIONALISM AND YOUR KNOWLEDGE OF THE BUSINESS I am here to work with you for your career. I cannot teach you. If your pitch to me, or your query to me demonstrates that you really are just throwing darts and have no idea of what is ahead of you, I will pass on your story. You can learn this, but remember, this is a business. Remember also that as agents, we are all working for free until we sell your story.
Don't take it personally. Don't try to create a "real reason" why the agent passed on your story. In the end, the simple reason is that it was not right.
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