Saturday, June 21, 2008

The Reason For All The Rejection

From the wisdom of literary agent Nathan Bransford comes this important news. The reason why agents don't ask for your manuscript is because your query lacks the right factor.

An agent reads your letter, and if you've said something that resonates with them, you're in. If you've written something that is highly marketable and your query letter shows that you can compose a standard letter in standard English and follow the submission instructions, you're in.

His recent blog post only makes things seem that much more futile. We write what we like, what means something to us, but what happens when an agent looks at the synopsis paragraph of the query and doesn't find the story intriguing? There's no market for the book, so there's no point in not rejecting the query.

You could craft the world's most perfect query, but if a literary agent doesn't get all excited about your story, you're dead in the water. That might explain why so many novels are set in New York City and involve the sort of people you'll never meet in your lifetime because you don't live in New York and hang around with publishing types.

Query widely, Mr. Bransford advises, but you might want to write something that has that resonance factor. Check out the weekly deals listings at Publishers Marketplace and you'll see what's hot. And you'll see why your manuscript fails to resonate.


Aeneas said...

Well... I hear all sorts of things about agents and what's happening with them. My own old agent has retired in disgust, and with a shrug. My other agent--who turned out ot be a bit of a loon--after I 'fired' her because we were getting nowhere (now I know why), has turned to non-fiction; and she was one of the few who actually liked to take on new voices. Also, more disturbingly, as we both reach the bottom of the barrel, there's a 'merge' mania with small fry being absorbed by the big literary agencies, who are on their way to becoming mega agencies. And we know that they won't take on new authors, not unless you're related to the great and mighty, etc. etc.

I also had an email from someone who was executive editor with Harper Collin and now heads one their imprints, and she moaned to me that this is not the business that she used to like.

Anyway, I think today, having been rejected through an email by the bottom of the barrel, and this place doesn't even pay for publishing you, is the day when I have decided that I shall not see another rejection letter. That decision will be implemented by never again sending a query letter to anyone. My writing career is over. It stopped having any meaning for me.

Now, let's see for how long I am going to keep this promise...

Aeneas said...

I didn't know how else to do it, but thanks for reading the Wolves of Pavlava excerpt.

I agree with you on the info dump. I've been reading it over and it does drag down the narrative.

Thank you again.


O hAnnrachainn said...

If you let it sit for a time, you'll be better able to go back and edit. My guess is that the info needs to be sprinkled in, a bit here and another bit there. The main character could have some internal thoughts, he could be told something, but not everything all at once. It'll come to you.

O hAnnrachainn said...

As for giving it up, you'll never keep to that promise because you're addicted to writing.

I've figured out that I can't stop myself because writing is an exercise in mental health. Sit down with a piece of paper and you can be someone else, live a different life for the hour or two that you spend in writing.

And when you've got it down on paper you're too curious to see if someone else might want to read your work, and once you've sent one query you might as well send ten, and on it goes.

Every time I'm ready to pack it in, I'm drawn back to writing and then it's back on the query cycle for another go-round.