Sunday, October 9, 2011


As I am getting ready to start my second attack on the query process, I was thinking about things I wish I would have known when I started "Operation Query, Phase 1." I'll be honest, I basically went into the whole process blind as a bat. As I read through blogs and message boards, though, what scared me the most was the dreaded rejection letter.  I was absolutely terrified about getting my first one. In the back of my mind, I thought "maybe I won't actually get one..." Wishful thinking, I know, but I'm a cleverly disguised optimist.

We all know where this is going, don't we? Yep, I got one. In fact, I got plenty of them. And guess what? It isn't the worst thing in the world. In fact, depending on how you look at them, the process is mildly amusing. Some of the agents were very nice and complimentary of my work, many even took the time to note favorite character attributes or parts in chapters, but just stated that their plates were too full or that the market was too saturated for them to risk taking on new authors right now. Ironically, those made me feel kind of good...not that getting rejected feels good, but having some of the most esteemed NY Times Best Selling Author's agents critiquing your work and saying they actually think your writing has merit and that there is a market for your stuff really takes the sting out of the whole rejection thing.

Other letters were actually written by the agent's assistants, which actually seemed like a fairly common practice as I received quite a few of those (so don't feel bad if you do, too).

Then there was the dreaded form rejection letter. If you're not familiar with that concept, let me explain and give you an example. The agents have a generic letter that says (not in so many words) "thanks, but no thanks" and they add your name in, sometimes just "Dear Author," MAYBE your book title if they're feeling ambitious, and that, my friends, is what you get for all those sleepless nights you spent writing that book! Hopefully, that's not how it really ends...that's when, as writers, we have to say this isn't how my story ends...and just write another chapter in our journey after that....which is what I'm doing now.

I'll end this post with probably the most amusing form rejection letter I received. Now, the ONLY part I removed is the name at the bottom, everything else is exactly as I received it. Enjoy :)

Dear ________: <-- Yep, that's exactly how I got it! Dear BLANK!!!!!!! I was absolutely touched that after I went through the painstaking process of writing every agent a very personal letter, they took the time to garnish their response to me with such a heartfelt gesture.

Thanks for your query.

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 I will be passing.

<<Name Removed>>


  1. Damn, that sucks! Such a cruel process, isn't it? Are you considering self-publishing? You'll have more control and keep more money. -Micah

  2. Hey Micah! Thanks for reading the post! I am definitely considering all of my options and have heard some really encouraging things about self-publishing, especially in the way of ebooks. Someone actually sent me a great article about another success story this morning :) It does seem like an advantage to get an agent/publisher from a marketing perspective, but I'm just sort of seeing where this journey takes me...I will publish this thing one way or another, even if I have to do it on my blog!

  3. My first form letter started with "Dear Author". Whadayaknow?? Of course, at the end of the letter it says, "I apologize for the form letter...", which, I suppose makes up for it a little bit. It's now taped to my door so I see it every day.

  4. At least you got the "author" part :) I have received a few of those too, which, while annoying, are better than my blank one!

    Good idea taping it to the door. I might just do that with this one...

  5. Keep up the good work, be persistent. I will tell you what an editor I took a class from said . . . she said include a photograph of yourself and a candy bar with your manuscript. It is harder to say NO when you see the face. Keep in mind that many underlings are the ones that read them and then pass them on to the higher ups if they like it. Given that they must read stacks sometimes mood and hunger get in the way, that is why a candy or granola bar added in the package is a plus as well.

  6. Great suggestion, thank you so much!! I will definitely try that and post about it on here :)

    Thanks for taking the time to read my blog!