STATUS: Where has this day gone? I’m a little stunned that it’s already after 7 p.m. Feeling perky though. Two contracts are almost complete. A new contract came in this morning though. I’ll have to devote the tomorrow morning to that one. Sigh. So close to finishing all the contracts for all these deals. Best news? New assistant starts on Monday.
What song is playing on the iPod right now? DON’T ASK ME WHY by the Eurythmics
When I first started my agency, I had a very nice standard rejection letter that I used to respond to my email queries. I would inject the writer’s name and the title. Ah, those were the days. I only got 10 or 20 queries a day. It wasn’t a big deal.
I felt wretched when I had to switch to a really standard form with no personalization (and I even apologize for it in the letter) because the number became overwhelming when my agency was successful.
That letter is obviously standard.
In truth, so is my letter that I use to respond to 30 pages that I have requested. Why don’t I include a line or two about the manuscript? How much time can that really take?
A lot actually. Do you know how difficult it is to sometimes create a succinct line or two that will really encapsulate why I passed?
I actually did that the other day. It was a YA project. I occasionally do include a couple of lines of feedback because I thought the writing was strong enough or whatever. I feel compelled to encourage the writer even though I won’t be moving forward by requesting a full. Not often, but if something captures me but I didn’t think it was quite right for me, or strong enough for the market, I’ll let the writer know.
But for this YA, it was rather complicated on why I passed. I thought about a couple of lines that I could include. Then I realized, ten minutes later, that there was no easy way to sum up why I was passing. I ultimately threw my hands in the air and just sent the standard letter. It was too hard and taking too much time to organize my thoughts.
So, I won’t do it because
1. it might signal to the writer that I’m open to a dialogue about the work and the reality is I can’t spare the time.
2. sometimes the writing is so bad I’m not sure what in the world I would say and I’m not into crushing people’s dreams—even though a NO from me might feel crushing but I hope not.
3. sometimes it’s just my opinion and the project might very well work for another agent without him or her blinking an eye. (Every once in a while I’ll get a triumphant email from a writer that will say, “you passed but so-so took it on so you were wrong.”)
4. invariably I’ll get a reply from a writer saying that I’m wrong or I didn’t get it or whatever.
5. the extra minutes times 100 (or 200 or 300) adds up.
I know that writers would really like some feedback. You need to rely on your critique group, writer discussion boards etc.
Don’t agonize over whether a letter was personal or not (and how can you tell). Trust me, you’d know.
I’m asking a favor. Don’t email me back asking for more info on why I passed. Chances are good I don’t remember the partial well enough (between when I read it and when the email letter actually got sent) to give any feedback.
I end up just feeling mean when I have to delete the inquiry. That’s an icky feeling.