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Friday, August 26, 2011

What Your Personalized Rejection Means


Have you ever wondered what certain phrases mean in a personalized rejection letter?

First of all, agents are very busy people, and don't owe us anything at all (not even a form response), so it's a very special thing to get any sort of feedback. Even a few sentences might lead you on the road to rethinking a key part of your manuscript.

That said, it can occasionally be hard to decipher what the agents actually mean by things like:

I need to connect more to your character.

The writing and voice are strong, but I didn't fall in love.

The lovely Kate Schafer Testerman of kt Literary was kind enough to explain how things work on the agent side and how to translate "agent-speak" phrases. She wrote a wonderful post (click below) that makes you think about your manuscript and characters, no matter where you are on the road to publication. Read the comments for some extra questions answered.

Declining a Partial - kt Literary blog post - August 24, 2011

Please remember that this is one agent's post, and that opinions vary :)

34 comments:

  1. This is so important to remember Jess. Thanks for reminding everyone of this and for linking to that post. Fantastic.

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  2. I love that she starts with a positive before the negative. It balances things out a bit. Thanks,

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  3. Thanks for the link! I'll definitely refer to this while editing!

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  4. I just read Kate's post and it was fantastic. Nice inside view to help writers decode what agents may or may not be finding in your ms

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  5. Thanks for the link. I will check it out. I've always only gotten a form letter.

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  6. Thanks so much for the link. Isn't it amazing how we pick apart everything that is said in a personal rejection? When I first began writing, I was told that one day I would look forward to getting that kind of rejection. I didn't believe it, but was I wrong!

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  8. Sorry...typo above!

    Thanks for the link.

    Rejection stings.

    I was lucky. Nearly 3 years ago, I got a several partials and a few fulls rejected on a particular ms. Lucky you say??? Yes. Several agents told me that I was close, near publishable, but there were some problems with too much backstory and the dialogue - too much for them to take on at the time. I set out to learn the craft.

    Now, nearly 3 years later, the book has been edited and revised...many times over in between other projects - backstory - gone. The novel is almost ready, and I'm going to query it again in the near future. It feels brand new. I feel that excitement again.

    We can learn from the words in rejections...after the sting goes away, look again and learn.

    Great post.

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  9. Poignant post. I've gotten personalized rejection letters from agents, and they provide great advice and support...but I'd still like it more if they accepted my ms;)

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  10. I appreciate the link. I'm going to check it after I finish commenting.

    Agents don't owe us anything, true. But I think each one should at least send a form rejection. Then we know when to stop waiting and wondering. They ask a lot of us: personalize each letter, check the books they rep and read those books, and so on. After all that, a response would be much appreciated.

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  11. Very interesting post on the link! Thanks for sharing!

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  12. Thanks so much for the link! I'll check it out.

    ~Debbie

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  13. Thanks for the link Jess. I have yet to query but I'm sure I'll get my share of rejections soon :)

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  14. I'll check it out. I only sent out (I think) 12 queries on my first ms and was lucky enough to get a few personalized rejections on the query and a few partial and one full request that were all personalized rejections. I know, it's weird to say I was lucky to get rejections, but such is the beast...
    erica

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  15. Thanks, Jess. Very informative. And even kinda soothing as I think about writing my very first query.

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  16. That was really helpful advice. So good of her to take the time and spell out what her comments mean.

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  17. The first time I got a personalized rejection, by husband bought champagne. I mean, call me crazy, but it meant that someone had actually read my stuff and that someone had taken the time to type a little note to me.

    That was a gift in itself. One of the many small things that keep you going in the publishing world.

    Shelley

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  18. Personalized rejections take so much of the sting out of a rejection. Going to read that post now, thanks!

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  19. Thanks, Jess for the link and info. I recently had a comment that I had to try and figure out what I needed to do so this comes just in time for me.

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  20. I'm on my way to read the wisdom said agent has to offer. Thank you for pointing the way :)

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  21. You should absolutely read it- it's one of the most amazing books that I've ever read.

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  22. I went and read the post. I liked the advice, but it seemed in the end (for YA) it all came down to having a paranormal element or it's just too hard to place. So why not just put that reason first instead of giving YA writers the other reasons for rejections?

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  23. Thanks for the link. I have this strange neurological quirk. Whenever I read a personalized rejection, all I ever see is "Loser!" LOL. Have a great new week, Roland

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  24. Thanks, Jess, for the link. I'm heading over right now to read it.

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  25. Thanks for the great link, Jess, as always. That was really eye-opening. I printed it out (geek, I know.) :) Sadly, I have more epxerience with rejections that I'd like.

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  26. Clicking over to that link now - curious!

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  27. Thanks for the link! I'll go check it out!

    Side note: I was catching up on your posts, and your blog always impresses me! I started reading at your newest post, September 9th, and I kept going, catching up on all I missed! You're a great blogger!

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