You may recall the “best rejection letter ever” I received from Linn Prentis Literary Agency awhile back. Well, I responded with a question to which I didn’t necessarily expect an answer.
Thank you for your serious consideration nonetheless! As this is my debut novel, I was afraid that might be the case, particularly in the first portions of the book. My writing has progressed quite a bit since I began “The Thief’s Throne,” so I hope to submit stronger material to you in the future.
I do have one question: I’m currently working on a trilogy of novellas, and the first one is almost finished. Would you even consider representing something as unorthodox as that? I certainly won’t waste your time with a query if not.
However, Amy Hayden was kind enough to shoot me an email back when she finally saw it.
Were it up to us we might but the truth is, the market is not kind to novellas. They aren’t easily picked up by publishers and normally don’t perform particularly well in general markets. And often if one doesn’t perform well once published, this can become another obstacle when one tries to get something else published trying to rep authors to the publisher. We really only take them on if a client already on our list has written one. I would say try very hard to find a specific pub that specializes in the novella format. You may want to look into boutique publishers. That might work.
That response might have been discouraging if my goal were to publish my novella, “Bloodlines of Epheria” (which of course you can read on my blog page), through traditional means. Instead, I wrote the first book with the intention of publishing the collated version on Kindle after posting it first in serial form. So, no worries there.
Anyhow, I hope that information is helpful to you writers out there who have thought about writing novellas for the New York market.
Well, I got another two agent rejections, but they were form and boring, so from here on out I’m only going to post the interesting/potentially beneficial ones. I will say, for the sake of your general awareness of which agents I’m soliciting, that they were from Shana Cohen of Stuart Krichevsky Literary Agency, Inc., and Jodi Reamer of Writers House, LLC.
Due to various events and life getting in the way, I’ve missed my last few writing days and am therefore still in the midst of writing the concluding battle scene of “Bloodlines.”
That’s all for now, though I should mention that a writer acquaintance commended the essay “Tradition and the Individual Talent,” by TS Eliot, to me. Sounds good, and after I read it, perhaps I’ll post my impression or some takeaway here.
Nothing terribly interesting in this post; just another pair of form rejections. The only thing worth noting is that Jabberwocky Literary Agency is the agency that represents Brandon Sanderson, though Sanderson’s agent is not currently accepting unsolicited manuscripts.
I greatly appreciate the opportunity to consider your query – thanks for sending it.
Alas, the query wasn’t quite intriguing enough to inspire me to offer representation or further consideration of your project. I have read your query letter myself; I wish I had time enough to respond to everyone personally and with constructive criticism, but it would be overwhelming, hence this form response.
This business is highly subjective; many people whose work I haven’t connected with have gone on to critical and commercial success. So, keep trying!
I am grateful that you have afforded me this opportunity to find out about you and your project, and wish you the best of success with your current and future creative work.
All best wishes,
VP, Jabberwocky Literary Agency, Inc.
Thank you so much for your query. Unfortunately, however, this project
doesn’t sound right for me. I encourage you to continue to submit
elsewhere, and I wish you every success in your writing career. Thanks
again for thinking of me.
Trodayne here hijacking Amy’s email. She wanted me to read your sample.
Your writing has a lot going for it and your query was quite strong. As
I read your synopsis and query I found myself intrigued. But as I
finished your sample I was left hesitating on requesting more. The plot
seems to work well enough. From what I can tell the characters work as
well. I know you can write a strong action scene. That much you clearly
demonstrated quite effectively in the prologue. But then you
demonstrated it again and again in the pages following it. As much as I
did like the premise and the first part of your sample, I found myself
feeling a sense of repetition as I continued to read. I believe the
contours of the writing didn’t progress as much as I’d hoped. I must
trust my instincts in this case and pass but Linn Prentis Literary
would welcome, no, we would encourage future submissions from you,
I think this is perhaps as good as a rejection gets, at least in my world! Though disappointment was inevitable, I am (obviously) quite motivated to send my next project Mr. Northern’s way.
I was fairly kicking myself after reading this particular email. The beginning of my novel – sans the prologue, as I wrote that after I finished the first draft – is probably the weakest part of the book. I knew that, and many beta readers told me so in so many words, but I didn’t want to scrap the whole thing and rewrite it. Now I wonder what my fate would’ve been had made the extra effort to do so.
But, as they say, what’s past is past. I am certainly aware of my tendency toward slow beginnings, as that is one of the critiques I’ve received about my ongoing “Bloodlines of Epheria” serial. The next time around, I will pay special attention to wholly grabbing the reader’s attention from the get-go.
As to your material I’m afraid I will be passing — I’m just not
enthusiastic enough about the concept of your story to feel that I’d
be the right agent for the project. I realize it is difficult to judge
your potential from a query; nevertheless please know that I give
serious attention to every letter, outline, and writing sample I
Sorry I couldn’t give you a more positive reply. Thanks for thinking
of me, though, and best of luck in your search for representation.
Though this seems like a personal reply at first blush, look closer and you can see it’s a form rejection. I only say that as a point of interest, because this is the only thing I am really allowed to expect in the way of negative responses. Ms. Jackson seems like an excellent agent for sci-fi/fantasy, and her form rejection is kind and respectful, which makes me want to query her again in the future if I don’t end up with someone long-term before then.
It was a disappointment to receive this, to be sure, but a more minor one than you might expect. The Lord has been working on my heart a lot in this area. As I reevaluate my priorities, I remember that first in my life is Him, second is my husband, and third, my daughter. My career, as it were, comes at the very end of the list, even after taking care of the home. And lest those who don’t know me think me a quiet, mousy push-over (my husband will laugh when he reads that), know that I am anything but, but wouldn’t have my priorities any other way. Of course, I still value my writing career and will continue it (for I passionately love to write and always will!). I am simply able to rest in my lack of immediate success, because I know I am being faithful in the things that matter even more.
And now – with the evening breeze sweeping over the porch and a latte at my side – to write.
Can I see 50 pages and a plot synopsis as attached word or pdf files please?
I would call this a promising response, but it actually promises nothing. It was progress, though, for Ms. Blasdell to be interested enough in my query letter to request a piece of the manuscript. I’m beginning to see that writing a captivating query makes a tremendous difference in an agent’s general response. It’s the “inside cover description” of your novel, if you will. Does the description of your book really pop in the humdrum sea of queries an agent must wade through each day?
I’ll probably post my original and improved query side by side at a later point so you can see the stark difference that complete restructuring made.
Second answer received: December 30, 2012
Read as follows:
This is not for me, but thank you for the look.
Succinct, as most rejections are. Particularly disappointing because Ms. Blasdell is a staunch advocate of sci-fi/fantasy, rather than one who merely tolerates the genre as part of her job.
Anyhow, you may have noticed that my writing has come to a complete standstill of late. To make a long story short, in addition to having been engaged in holiday busyness, our little family is in the middle of a cross-country move. We’ve been packing up our house, shipping our things to the East Coast, living out of bags and tending to our sick selves/a sick baby meanwhile. I assure you, after we settle down in our new state come mid-January, writing will re-commence.
I hope you all had a warm, restful Christmas and a happy, hopeful New Year’s celebration. Until next time!
Answer received: November 27, 2012 (and here I should note that the agency does not promise a rejection notification at all, so it was nice to get one)
Read as follows:
I’ve read the material you sent and though it shows promise I just wasn’t fully convinced. You’re a thoughtful writer and you have a good story sense, I think you need to just keep working until the writing and storytelling is truly compelling. Best of luck.
You know, it really could be worse. There are some bright sides to this. One is that if I ever want to query Mr. Ellenberg again, I at least know what he’s not looking for. Two, there are a pair of nice compliments in there. As a dear fellow writer friend of mine teased, “You’ve officially made it out of John Grisham category with the first one (thoughtful writer), and Stephen King category with the second (good story sense)! You’re practically magical.” Three, this is all a good lesson in (sigh) humility, and (double sigh) dealing with minor failure.
Here’s the thing about querying – once you send your query on a particular project to an agent and they reject it, you can’t query them about that project again. That might not be the way all agencies work, but you’ll find it’s true more often than not. So, I could revisit the manuscript before I query anyone else…but the question is, how long do I work before I call it “ready?”
My former professor and writing mentor Mel Odom suggests that I keep querying until I’m completely out of options. He’s always telling me to move on to my next novel, and if this one never gets published, I can return to it and tinker with it again a few novels into my future.
Then there’s my husband, who is much less easily-discouraged and generally a much faster worker than me, who says he thinks the best course of action would be to revise the manuscript now before querying again.
I say that I need a luscious piece of dark chocolate, some iced coffee and an episode of “Dr. Who?” before anyone even thinks about mentioning writing to me again.