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Do rejections actually just mean its shit?

(14 Posts)
JustThisOnceOrTwiceOrThrice Fri 11-Oct-13 12:43:39

. . . rather than its not right for their list or something?

If it was good enough they would want it wouldn't they? If there were a small problem they would be able to see past it wouldn't they? So does that mean its totally rubbish and no one would ever want it?

I find it hard to believe to they would pass up something genuinely good. Although you do hear these stories of published successful books having been turned down by multiple agents and publishers. But how rare is that?

TunipTheUnconquerable Fri 11-Oct-13 13:55:22

Multiple rejections are the norm for first novels, even ones that are eventually published.

J.K.Rowling was exceptional in quite how successful she became. But she wasn't at all unusual in having her books initially turned down by quite a few people. It's the norm. People who get taken on by the first agent they send it to do exist but if that doesn't happen to you it most certainly doesn't mean your book is shit.

Why do you ask? Have you just been rejected and are using it as an excuse to beat yourself up? If so, how many times?

An agent has to not only think 'yes, that's a decent bit of writing' to want to take on your book, they have to think they will be able to sell it and like it enough personally to want to spend many hours working on it. Everybody has personal tastes in books and there are always going to be some types of things that appeal to them more than others. Even for books they like, the marketplace shifts and they have to have some idea of who would actually buy it.

On the other hand, if you submit to a dozen carefully-chosen agents with no whiff of anything more than a form rejection you probably do need to look more closely at why....

whatsagoodusername Fri 11-Oct-13 14:11:45

Very, very few make it out of a slush pile to land on an editor's desk to make a decision. Slush pile submissions are read by very junior staff, or often work experience people. Then, if they make it as far as an editor who actually likes it, the editor has to convince other editors, marketing, etc, that it is both good and saleable.

It is more likely to be published through an agent because editors take their submissions more seriously. But it is very difficult to find an agent.

whatsagoodusername Fri 11-Oct-13 14:13:36

It may not be rubbish, just not saleable in the current market! If they can't see how they'll sell it, they won't buy it even if they think it is good.

JustThisOnceOrTwiceOrThrice Fri 11-Oct-13 14:51:41

Thanks for your replies.

It's my first rejection which I had prepared myself for, but it did make me wonder if I am flogging a dead horse (as I would imagine it does for a lot of first timers).

I am beating myself up a bit I suppose but it also made me genuinely wonder. I don't want to be one of those people who think they've got something good enough but actually others look at it with embarrassment as it's so bad! grin

I've found asking friends not that helpful. No actually that's not fair, as a few have been very encouraging and constructive, but others come out with very weird random and irrelevant comments! It's very odd.

Anyway, I was wondering about enquiring politely if it's possible that they (the agent) can give me a little bit of feedback, but I don't want to piss them off and I realise they are very busy!

BigPawsBrown Fri 11-Oct-13 15:04:39

I often think this way too but I think it's just a numbers game. If they receive 50 submissions a week surely a % of them will have been good enough but they only ask for more on ones they feel passionate about.

I am querying agents at the moment and I have had one request for full and two rejections (one form). So it's proof that even if someone says no, someone else can say yes, and they all had exactly the same material!

I wouldn't ask for feedback. They will simply say they can't... They receive so many submissions and it's poor etiquette I think to ask. I agree they should though - they know why they rejected it so it wouldn't hurt to add a sentence as to why but they generally won't!

JustThisOnceOrTwiceOrThrice Fri 11-Oct-13 15:09:02

Fair enough. If it's poor etiquette then I definitely won't! That would look awful!

BigPawsBrown Fri 11-Oct-13 15:40:33

I think it is, but I might be wrong. I think if they requested a full and sent you a form rejection you could ask for feedback but if they rejected your query/sample chapters they would probably be :O if you asked for feedback. Sometimes agents tweet what was wrong with things on their slush pile, you could look on twitter?

JustThisOnceOrTwiceOrThrice Fri 11-Oct-13 16:32:19

I'm not that familiar with Twitter but just had a look and found the agent in question. They have recently quoted a bit from a submission (a bit from the covering email) and it's a bit illiterate. I would be so embarrassed if that were me! (no names mentioned but still)

TunipTheUnconquerable Fri 11-Oct-13 16:36:23

Don't ask for feedback, it would make you look pushy and ignorant of why they generally don't give it. If you keep on subbing someone else might give you some. Have you sent it out to several people at once? It's normal to do that these days.

Who are the friends who read it? Do they have fiction writing/publishing experience? Are you in a critique group or writing class or writing forum? If not, it's a good idea to join something to basically improve the quality of feedback you are getting before you submit. Good critiquers are like gold dust but once you've found one, it can take your writing to a whole other level.

MooncupGoddess Fri 11-Oct-13 16:45:00

'It's not right for our list' is a genuine reason for rejection; agents have defined subject areas and if agent X only represents literary fiction they're not going to take on a teenage vampire novel even if it's the best teenage vampire novel ever. However, it's also an easy way to reject a mediocre proposal without having to go into lots of time-consuming detail.

If you've had several rejections from agents when you are absolutely certain that the genre, approach etc is right for their list (i.e. they've sold similar projects recently) then your proposal could probably do with being better.

BigPawsBrown Fri 11-Oct-13 16:50:36

Yes I think it is a bit questionable to tweet excerpts from queries on twitter but it can help to see the dos and don'ts.

Not right for their list can mean a few things from the book being rubbish to that they've just taken on a really similar client and they don't want two of their authors in competition with each other.

One rejection doesn't mean a thing. Ten rejections doesn't mean much. Fifty rejections (as long as it's fifty rejections from agents / publishers who are in the market for what you've written) is probably telling you something.

Getting rejected is horrible, like having someone tell you your baby's ugly - but it happens to absolutely all of us, I promise. It happens to unpublished authors and published authors alike, week in, week out. It's just how our industry works.

Don't take it to heart. Also, I'd really recommend querying more than one agent at a time. Do them in batches of ten, and when you've had replies from five (assuming no-one's called the MS in yet) send out another ten. It makes the rejections less devastating when they're not the only one on your mind!

Best of luck and keep going. Don't reject yourself!

TunipTheUnconquerable Mon 14-Oct-13 11:03:27

And if it was fifty rejections from agents/publishers who weren't in the market for what you had written it would tell you that you could have saved yourself a lot of time, heartache and possibly postage/printing costs by putting a bit more work into researching which agents/publishers to target!

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