As previously mentioned here, my first rejection came just an hour after the agent received my email. I got one each day for the next several days, then they kind of tapered off. Those first rejections came in the form of form letters, which leaves me not knowing if they even read my submitted writing sample. Some later agents were kind enough to write me an email themselves. Here are some of the emails I got:
Thanks so much for letting us take a look at your materials and please forgive us for responding with a form letter. The volume of submissions we receive, however, makes it impossible to correspond with everyone personally.
Unfortunately, the project you describe does not suit our list at this time. We wish you the best of luck in finding an agent and publisher for your work and we thank you, once again, for letting us consider your materials.
Thank you very much for your query, which we have read with interest. Unfortunately, the project does not seem right for this agency, and we are sorry that we cannot offer to serve as your literary agent.
We also apologize for the form rejection. The sheer number of queries we receive prevents personalization in order for us to respond in a timely fashion.
We wish you all the best in finding more suitable representation, encourage you to query widely, and thank you for giving us the opportunity to consider your work.
Reasons An Agent Might Reject A Query
It isn’t personal. But that doesn’t stop it from feeling personal. It still hurts, trust me.
- Maybe your genre doesn’t fit with what they’re accepting right now.
- Maybe they signed clients recently with stories similar to yours, and just don’t have room for you.
- Maybe your letter didn’t promote your book very well, so they didn’t even read it.
- Maybe they liked your story well enough, but they don’t think it’ll sell to a publisher.
- Maybe your story is okay, but it didn’t draw them in well enough.
I read a statistic that said less than 1% of authors seeking representation get signed. 1%! Some agents receive hundreds of submissions a day, and they are tasked with reading through each of them and picking out the best. It’s a demanding job, and if your work doesn’t catch their eye just so, then they’ll move on to someone else.
So, what can you do with those rejections start pouring in? Me, I took it personally. I got depressed. I moped. I cried. I wondered if it was worth it to keep trying. I convinced myself that I would never amount to anything.
Then I got up. I made concrete decisions about what I needed to do to move forward. I put that project away. I got back to work on my current project. I started this blog. I set new goals and new deadlines. I reached out to family and friends for encouragement.
Rejections feel like the end of the world. They’re not. Everyone tells you that, but you don’t understand it until you go through it. Mope if you need to. Cry if you need to. Then pick yourself up and keep moving forward.
Feel free to share your own experiences in the comments section. I’d love to hear from you.