Pub Rants

What A Difference a NO Makes

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STATUS: Busy and productive. Lots of stuff out on submission. Now I want to be talking about lots of deal making as the weeks unfold.

What’s playing on the iPod right now? JUST LIKE HEAVEN by The Cure

Since I’m in submitting mode, I couldn’t help but think about how editors are just like agents. A project that floats one editor’s boat is just hated by another. So it really is about matching the right agent with a project and then matching the right editor to it.

For example, here are two NO responses from editors for the same book.

“the character was unlikeable and the writing flat”

“I enjoyed reading this. I connected emotionally to the writing. This is a very intriguing manuscript on many different levels. I’ll give you a call later on today to express my dismay about passing”

Obviously they were both NOs but one was a heck NO and the other a very sad, wish I was offering, close-call NO.

Just another reminder how subjective this biz is. For agents, for editors, for writers, for readers.

We all have our like and dislikes.

11 Responses

  1. Stephanie Feagan said:

    First off, so sorry for the negatives. But thanks for the reminder – it bears repeating. 🙂

    (And I’m curious why ed #2 said no, with dismay….how intriguing!)

  2. diana said:

    Thanks. I needed that today. My agent is circulating a project that we are both very excited about, but so far no takers. Some with very positive no’s. So it’s rather nice to hear it isn’t just me. Not that I’m narcissistic or anything . . .



  3. Anonymous said:

    My agent and I have been dealing wtih these types of rejections for a year now.

    One editor loves the protagonist and the writing, but thinks the hook is too small. Someone else loves the story but not the protagonist. Another editor thinks the premise is great, but doesn’t “love” the writing.

  4. Jana DeLeon said:

    Steph – I got this kind of rejection on Rumble. In some cases, it means they couldn’t get it by a senior editor or through the dreaded committee.

  5. Ryan Field said:

    Oh, and when they get down to actual editing that’s when the subjectivity really begins. I’ve learned to go along with their personal tastes…for the most part. One last year sent me revisions for a short story in a collection. He’d ruined the story and I couldn’t abide his changes. So I politely backed out of the book, and a month later sold the same story to another editor (with the same publisher) who made changes that didn’t ruin the storyline. Subjectivity isn’t a metaphor in publishing.

  6. Therese said:


    The word should be paired with “persistence,” and tattooed on every writer’s forearm!

    I’ve been that author with the contradictory “no’s” and, even my upcoming novel, which sold very well, got shot down by a publisher who didn’t love it as much as the editor who hoped to bid on it.

    These experiences are good training for the “real world,” where more people WON’T buy your novel than WILL. As Kristin says, we all have our likes and dislikes!

  7. Demon Hunter said:

    I’m sure this is how it is for agents as well. Some agents may hate a book and others will love it. This is why Miss Snark tells us to query widely, as far as agents.

  8. Tammie said:

    Sounds like agents go thru the same emotions of finding a home for that one piece of work.

    I’ve gotten the “liked it – just didn’t love it” comments from agents and so you just have to keep hunting and crossing the fingers.

  9. Diary of a Fiction Writer said:

    Thank you,

    Your wise words . . . Just another reminder how subjective this biz is. For agents, for editors, for writers, for readers. We all have our like and dislikes . . . now reside on a Post-it note stuck to the side of my monitor, and they will remain there for the duration of my search for an agent and subsequent for my first novel.