Feedback, Fiction, Novel, Query, Rejection, Writing

Really? You have nothing to say?

Yeah, so I’ve been querying my novel. In March, my effort was rewarded with a request for a partial, which I sent immediately. This request was from an agent, with thirty years experience, who “takes great pleasure in finding new authors” and from her entry on QueryTracker, it appeared she had about a .05% request rate. Needless to say, I was excited to have her request the first three chapters. Skip ahead three months—well, more like turtle walk through three long months waiting. Finally, a couple days ago, the SASE arrived and within I found … a photocopied to-whom-it-may-concern form rejection letter. That’s it? Geez!

I’ve learned to take query rejections in stride, but a rejection on a partial is a different animal. The less than helpful—demeaning, actually—nature of this rejection on a partial got to me. I was left to wonder if the agent even bothered to read my pages, or if she just ordered an assistant to clear out some of the slush pile by firing off form rejects. Then again, if the agent did read my pages, what does it mean that she didn’t take a minute to offer even one teeny bit of personalization to her rejection—some indication of the real reason she was passing? I was frustrated. So, my subconscious (Muse) dialogued with me in dream.

It was night, but I was standing outside at a long row of tables loaded with objects people were buying, like at a yard sale. I heard someone singing and looked to the end of the row where I saw a little girl sitting on the ground. None of the other customers appeared to be aware of her. She faced away from me. I walked closer and listened to her sing for a minute, then stepped around where I could see her face. She was crying. When she realized I was there, she stopped singing and said, “I’m sorry.” Then she stood and started to walk away. I said, “Wait, don’t stop! Your voice is beautiful.” Still crying, she turned and ran back to hug me. She said, “Thank you, but if my voice is beautiful, why doesn’t anyone listen to me?” I had no answer.

Pretty straightforward, right? I am both the little girl and the woman who encourages her. The girl represents my novel. But which is correct in their assessment of the girl’s voice? Is it truly good, as the woman says, or am I ignoring the obvious reason no one is listening? This is how form rejections mess with my mind. I accept their necessity in query response—in fact, I welcome them over no response means no—but I think they should be outlawed on partials and fulls.

Anyhoo … pressing on. My son is still here, so I’m not fully back, but things have quieted a little so I’ll be trying to catch up on reading your blog posts in the next couple days.

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26 thoughts on “Really? You have nothing to say?”

  1. I read Nathan’s post, and while it does make sense about why he and other agents don’t offer you much explanation, he also states that he gives “vague, formulaic, and brief. But polite!” replies. That’s a far cry from the standard rejection form – photocopied and not even addressed to you – that you were given. It was a low blow, I think, and you have every right to be a little upset about it. I hope you can move past it and continue querying. I’m sure you’ll find someone.

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