Rejection = Something Is Wrong With Your Manuscript?

Cathy C (on Absolute Write) wrote:
If agent after agent, editor after editor reads the query and asks for a partial, then asks for the full, at the very least you have a terrific query and partial. If nobody offers a deal thereafter, that's the point you have to stop and wonder why.

See, if the plot is a winner and the characters terrific, but there are a few grammar or dialogue issues, they'll probably take it anyway. If the writing is stellar but it has a few plot holes, or the characters don't sing, they'll take it anyway. If none of the first five queries take it -- it's time to consider the rewrites.

In my opinion (and experience), it's not always because there's something wrong with your ms. I hate to see people running off and do rewrites after they got 10 rejections. However, as writers, we should always be mindful of the quality of our work...

Anyway, there are many reasons why an agent won't take a ms.

1. The agent is looking for something specific -- he won't really tell you, but he knows it when he sees it;

2. The agent is looking for the next Grisham/King/Rowling/Clancey/etc.

3. The agent can only take one new client a year, and he's EXTREMELY picky, and unless you REALLY knock his socks off, you won't make it. It doesn't mean your book is bad -- it's just that it's not what he considers "WOW, I've GOT TO HAVE THIS"... and no matter how you rewrite the thing, you will never make it. Every agent is different -- you can never tell what really make him tick. But a lot of agents would tell you they must absolutely "fall in love" with the book, but they can't tell you what will make them do that. It's very subjective.

4. Your book might be the BEST thing since sliced bread, but ALAS! Another book has just like this one has already been written -- or worse, the agent has already rep'ed someone else who wrote something similar.

Cathy, I am not sure where you get the number "five"? Are you saying if after 5 rejections and no one wants to make you a deal, something is wrong with your ms? I think it's a little simplistic.

I have gotten great feedback from one agent who was willing to go a distance with my ms. At the end, she didn't offer me a rep because she didn't know how to place my ms. Everything looked great and she didn't think anything was wrong with it or it needed rewrites or anything. She thought it was a great story. She just didn't think she could place it because she represented mostly commercial fiction -- mine is marginally literary. One can argue that I should rewrite it to make it more commercial... but I think that's a dangerous way of looking at things.

Eventually, I did place my ms. and it's coming out next month. Sometimes you just have to get it to the right person at the right time.

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