Another submitting to agents question.

Fri, Aug 18 2017 08:11pm IST 1
Gus
Gus
114 Posts
Yeah, they ask for three chapters, but can probably tell if they're going to like it from the first page or so. Part of the problem is that the 'stock rejection' often contains encouraging content, which makes it even more difficult to tell if they actually did "condider it carefully" or if that's what they tell everyone. I would prefer to just be told "sorry it's rubbish" then at least I'd know where I stand Wink

@ Tpfm - I see that this is your first post. Welcome to the Word Cloud! I'm pretty new here myself...
Fri, Aug 18 2017 08:53pm IST 2
Catasshe
Catasshe
649 Posts
Yeah, I think sadly it's safe to assume if it isn't specifically directed at your particular novel and thus not applicable generally, assume it's just a nicely worded form rejection. If they go, 'I liked this but your MC is too extreme....' then it's specific and encouraging. Oh, and welcome to the Cloud Gus! I see a fellow Edinburghian, like me :-)
Fri, Aug 18 2017 08:59pm IST 3
RichardB
RichardB
1140 Posts
On the subject of careful consideration, this comment on one of Piers Blofeld's YouTube videos prompted a hollow laugh from me.

Imagine all the manuscripts that are gold mines worth millions that could have been sold, but because of a not so impressive pitch letter, cover letter, query letter the work didn't get any attention. Literary agents need to stop acting like they are holding the keys to the kingdom and expecting authors to impress them. I call such lit.agents "vanity agents" They need to come down from their pedestal a few notches. They need to stop focusing on the query letters. Read the damn story instead and not just the first few chapters to see if the story is marketable.

Yeah, right. Like they've got the time to read every MS in the slush pile all the way through. Someone's out of touch with reality.
Fri, Aug 18 2017 09:13pm IST 4
Catasshe
Catasshe
649 Posts
Woah, I couldn't disagree with that comments guy more. It's quite simple: if a writer hasn't got the gumption to write a decent query letter/pitch/opening chapter, they don't deserve to be read anyway. Sounds harsh, but it's a bit like a job interview: if you can't scrub up, put on some smart clothes and turn up on time there's no way in hell you'll do a good job. If you do manage all these things, you may still not be very good in the job, but if you can't even reach those intial hurdles.... it don't bode well! (And I speak as someone who was late for a job interview myself once ;-))

The other thing that aspiring authors often say (or, rather, whine) is 'Oh, but they didn't read 'the whole book'; they stopped after two chapters, so of course they missed out on all the astounding greatness I'd hidden in the following 16, but managed to cunningly entirely leave out of the first couple...
They never seem to get: if someone stops after two chapters that IN ITSELF is a sign you didn't do your job as well as necessary. If they WANT to stop after two chapters, then de facto it's not successful enough (at least if everyone who reads it feels that way!) Anyway, rant against my fellow aspiring published authors over now ;-)
Fri, Aug 18 2017 09:35pm IST 5
RichardB
RichardB
1140 Posts
I rather liked the bit about 'expecting authors to impress them.' Er, why else would an author get representation or publication? Is the agent going to say 'Actually, this MS didn't impress me at all, but I'm going to take it on anyway because this person deserves a break.'?
Fri, Aug 18 2017 09:52pm IST 6
Catasshe
Catasshe
649 Posts
I think that commenter thinks that is precisely what an agent should do. He doesn't understand that they are effectively investing in your work. They need to see something they think has some value.
Fri, Aug 18 2017 10:17pm IST 7
Gus
Gus
114 Posts
There probably are plenty of 'marketable' books which never get looked at because they didn't have a good enough covering letter. I'm sure that if there were more hours in a day (or they had more minions, or were able to clone themselves) agents would review more submissions in detail. But as it is, they have to apply some criteria for insta-rejection. The quality of the covering letter probably being the first one.
Fri, Aug 18 2017 10:21pm IST 8
Catasshe
Catasshe
649 Posts
I really don't think that's the case. If we had a slush pile right in front of us, I'd put serious money on it that no bad cover letter/synopsis will be followed by the next Harry Potter or Lovely Bones.
Yeah, writing a good cover letter and intriguing pitch and synopsis is damn hard. But writing a really good novel is damn harder, and 100 times longer.
Wed, Aug 30 2017 02:23pm IST 9
Gemstar
Gemstar
32 Posts
Just had my forth rejection which I pretty much think was a form one, although I'm pretending that this sentence was written just for me! LOL

This is an entirely subjective decision and I have no doubt that another agent will feel differently.

*goes back to daydreaming about being paid to write for a living*
Wed, Aug 30 2017 02:28pm IST 10
Gemstar
Gemstar
32 Posts
Just had my forth rejection which I pretty much think was a form one, although I'm pretending that this sentence was written just for me! LOL

This is an entirely subjective decision and I have no doubt that another agent will feel differently.

*goes back to daydreaming about being paid to write for a living*

This was a pretty good sentence for my ego.....absolutely fall in love..... does that mean that she liked but didn't love it???? Aarrrghghghg toturing myself!

Wed, Aug 30 2017 02:29pm IST 11
Gemstar
Gemstar
32 Posts
I am afraid that I did not feel quite gripped enough by the opening chapters of your work to absolutely fall in love with your writing.


Doh, forgot to paste in the previous post - fingers too fast for brain!

This was a somewhat good sentence for my ego.....absolutely fall in love..... does that mean that she liked but didn't love it???? Hope so! Aarrrghghghg torturing myself!

Wed, Aug 30 2017 02:36pm IST 12
Willow
Willow
121 Posts
Hi Gemstar, they are so ambiguous aren't they? I would prefer them to say if my work was rubbish, but I suppose as it's so subjective they wouldn't say that. What one reader loathes another will love. Didn't absolutely love it though - so they loved a little bit??? It's all so frustrating isn't it!

I'm still waiting on any responses, submitted to 9 agents 1-2 weeks ago. How many did you submit to?
Wed, Aug 30 2017 03:53pm IST 13
Gemstar
Gemstar
32 Posts
Hi Willow, hope you're not in for too much of a wait. I submitted to seven, back in May/June and have had three polite and most probably standard rejections so far. I've done more editing but am taking a break with this one and starting something else which has got the juices flowing. It is so frustrating and you can't help but over analyse every sentence in case it was specifically intended for you, but I'm pretty sure they've all been form so far though. Good luck and keep us posted!
Wed, Aug 30 2017 05:20pm IST 14
Philippa
Philippa
1584 Posts
Arg. Yes, that one's hard to read.

"I am afraid that I did not feel quite gripped enough by the opening chapters of your work to absolutely fall in love with your writing....I have no doubt that another agent will feel differently "

I mean, that makes it sound like you really came close, but not quite.

On the other hand, if s/he didn't say anything else specific to your writing (such as "I think you have an interesting premise and strong protagonist, but..."), then we might have to assume it's form. Boo.

Can you post the full text? (just leave out names etc.).

I agree. I think agents have swung too far the other way from the days when they sent out rejections that said stuff like Why wouldn't anyone in their right mind care about this drivel?, but now they are sooo nice and encouraging that we can't tell a form rejection from a personalised one.

I think we will have to raise this issue with agents ;) "Be a bit meaner, please. We can't tell if you like us or not!"

Wed, Aug 30 2017 07:51pm IST 15
Gemstar
Gemstar
32 Posts
I agree Philippa, there wasn't anything like that which makes me think it's a form rejection. Albeit a very pleasant one. I think I'm just clinging to the fact that it might have had an encouraging comment to help me sleep better! Lol

We receive nearly 600 manuscripts a week and can only take on a select number of debut writers every year. The result is that we have to be incredibly selective, so please do not be disheartened. This is an entirely subjective decision and I have no doubt that another agent will feel differently.

I wish you the very best of luck in finding an agent who is right for you.


Wed, Aug 30 2017 08:02pm IST 16
Philippa
Philippa
1584 Posts
Well, it can be nice to be let down gently.
:)
Wed, Aug 30 2017 09:47pm IST 17
Yo
Yo
181 Posts
Perhaps all literary agents could get together and formulate their own marking system

10/10 - You are the next JK. Get the kettle on, I'm just steering the Porsche onto your drive.

Down to

1/10 - You stink, your cat stinks and if I came to your house I bet that'd stink too.

At least it'd be clear!

If you got 10 x 3/10's on your first round of submissions, then do a bit of reworking, resubmit, and then get 10 x 6/10's, then you'd know you were doing something right and this would encourage you to keep on improving and not abandon something you've worked hard on for years.
Wed, Aug 30 2017 09:49pm IST 18
Gemstar
Gemstar
32 Posts
I like your thinking Yo!
Thu, Aug 31 2017 02:57pm IST 19
Gus
Gus
114 Posts
That's a brilliant idea Yo - let's start a petition ;-) I too wish some of my rejections weren't so encouraging. From my first round of agent submissions, there were two which I felt were actually personalised (of the ones who even replied). What's particularly confusing is when they say something like 'I didn't feel it was right for my list...' which doesn't really comment on the quality of the work at all. Was it really good but not right for you, or was it just really bad?
Thu, Aug 31 2017 03:14pm IST 20
Hilly
Hilly
172 Posts
This was one I got. Gutting, to say the least.

I have now been able to read THE **** and, although I think you write extremely well (not least the sparky and convincing dialogue), I don’t think I would be the right person to represent it on your behalf. I’m so sorry but I grew impatient with *** and didn’t really care how the story was going to resolve itself. The bloodbath at the end is undeniably shocking, however!

THE **** most definitely has something, though, and I’m in no doubt that another agent will take it on and find you a good publisher.

Thank you so much for allowing me to read THE PACT and best of luck with it. I shall watch out for news of a great rights sale.
Seriously? Aaaargh! What do you have to do?
Good luck to all of us!
Thu, Aug 31 2017 03:16pm IST 21
Hilly
Hilly
172 Posts
Woops. Left the name in, not that it matters one jot! It's still with me and no one else.
Thu, Aug 31 2017 03:39pm IST 22
Gus
Gus
114 Posts
That sounds like very positive feedback, Hilly - that's pretty much the best kind of rejection you can get! I can imagine the frustration though...
Thu, Aug 31 2017 03:50pm IST 23
Philippa
Philippa
1584 Posts
Oh Lord, Hilly. You must be so frustrated! So close!
Thu, Aug 31 2017 05:07pm IST 24
Hilly
Hilly
172 Posts
Hi Gus and Philippa. Yes, always so close but obviously not close enough. Frustrating beyond belief and the worst bit is, not the first time either. So many near misses. Sometimes I believe I shall 'get there' (wherever that is) and at other times, I will always fall at the last few hurdles. But, I don't give up.
I'm probably really stupid but hey!
Wed, Sep 13 2017 04:00pm IST 25
Philippa
Philippa
1584 Posts
Just going back to the discussion on this thread about stats, I've just come across this from agent Barbara Poelle, via the Writers' Digest

"Loosely speaking, out of every 100 queries I receive, I will request 7–10 complete manuscripts. And only about one of every 25–30 manuscripts I request will result in me signing a new client. "

Please login or sign up to post on this network.
Click here to sign up.