Rejections are a part of life. Every writer experiences them at some point in their careers. But what does a rejection mean? What are the signs that some improvement is needed? This was a topic that came up during a Twitter discussion through YALitChat (http://yalitchat.ning.com/). Some of the participants included Michelle Wolfson (Wolfson Literary Agency), Elana Roth (Caron Johnson Literary Agency), Tamar Rydzinski (Laura Dail Literary Agency), and Jill Corcoran (Herman Agency). I’ve summarized their comments and this is what I took out of the discussion.
First, I want to say that the comments below are assuming the following:
1. You’re spelling the agents name and address correctly.
2. You’re submitting to agents who represent your genre.
3. You’re submitting to one agent at a time and not spamming.
4. You’ve written a decent query. Check out my article on Query Letters http://tinyurl.com/2aaolsk
If all the above is true, then here are some things to consider:
In most cases, if you’ve received 150 form rejections then there is a problem with the concept of your book. You have to begin to ask yourself some tough questions. Is your idea unique or is it overdone? Are your characters one dimensional? Is your story predictable? Here is a great quiz regarding Fantasy Clichés http://rinkworks.com/fnovel/. I wouldn’t take it too seriously, but if you answer yes to every question, then I’d take it seriously. I would also suggest joining a critique group. Get some opinions on your work from someone who is not in your life (family, friends, etc.). A good critique group will give you their honest opinions and help you take your work to the next level. Meetup is a great place to find a group in your area. http://www.meetup.com
In most cases, if you’re submitting partials and not getting any bites then there is a problem with your style or the flow of your novel. If you get to this point, many agents will offer suggestions when they turn you down. Cassandra Clare (NYT Bestselling Author of the Mortal Instruments series) said that she reads her entire novel out loud before she turns it over to her editor. She said it’s time consuming, but helps her to identify holes in her manuscript. If you don’t understand the agents suggestions or read your manuscript and still aren’t sure what’s wrong then consider taking a course in writing. During the course, you’ll submit your writing and receive feedback on subjects like style, creativity, and pacing. You can usually find them pretty cheap at your local community college or online. Writer’s Digest has some excellent online options. http://www.writersonlineworkshops.com/
I hope this helps you in your journey toward publication! Good luck and Happy Writing! You can read my other articles for writers here: http://tinyurl.com/34fechk