Friday, September 9, 2011

Rejection I Can Appreciate

So far I'd been trying to use this blog to be helpful to other aspiring writers. Right now, I just want to be real with you. (Fear not--I have no intention of emotionally upchucking all over your house slippers.)

I just wanted to confess that I've just received my fifth rejection from an agent, and I've got some mixed feelings about it. (Yes, I know that five rejections is nothing, and I can easily expect a dozen more before the planets align and/or Snooki's book finally runs its course.) I'm not reflecting so much on the rejection as I am on the -type- of rejection it happens to be. You see, this is the first non-form rejection I've received.

Aha! My angsty dark cloud has a silver lining.

That's right, while it still stung like being the last kid picked for Dodgeball, this letter was -personalized-! No generic 'Dear Author'... my actual name was at the top of that tiny paragraph. No cut-and-paste standard reply about how the agent gets so many queries every day they can't possibly give me a hint as to why my project (regrettably, of course) doesn't interest them... this one gave me an explanation. And here it is, short and sweet:


'Unfortunately I'm going to pass on this idea. The manuscript is quite long, and it's quite hard to sell memoirs from authors with small platforms.

Sorry about all this. The idea itself seemed interesting and interestingly enough mirrors a fiction project that I'm planning on taking on.'



Now that I've gotten some potentially useful feedback on my attempt, I have to decide what to do with it--if anything. (This was only the query, by the way. This particular agent didn't want writing samples included.)

*Can I cut down the manuscript notably?

Maybe a few thousand words could still be trimmed without the book losing its essence, but I'm not sure what count to shoot for (as there is no average word count for this genre.)

*Can I magically pull a 'platform' out of subspace by becoming famous overnight?

Unlikely. (Call me, Snooki! I'd like to audition to become your arch nemesis. >.>)

*Can I completely rework the book into a fiction piece and still live with myself?

Ask me again after another two-dozen dismissals.

Okay, so I suppose I don't have much by way of conclusive information just yet. At least it's a start. Seeing any of this echoed by a different agent will certainly make me sit up and reassess my approach to the query gauntlet.

In the mean time, the name of the game is 'persistence.' If Kathryn Stockett (author of 'The Help') had to face down 60 rejection letters before finding an advocate for her story, then I figure I've got 55 more to go before I'm entitled to mourn my lack of marketability. (I may do a bit of whining at every interval of 10 or so, but I'll try to keep it to myself as much as humanly possible.)

So, has anyone learned things from rejection letters? And if you happen to have some experience with them, tell me what you make of mine. :) I'm wide open to interpretations/suggestions.