Pub Rants

The Personalized Rejection Letter

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STATUS: Heading out of the office soon to do some reading at home. One of these days I will actually be caught up and then my clients won’t know what to do with me…

What’s playing on the iPod right now? I’D RUN AWAY by The Jayhawks

Since we are talking about personalized letters and because somebody brought up the Brenda Novak auction in the comments, I just want to say here that my auction item is a read & critique within 24 hours.

What that means is that whoever wins will be sending me the first 30 to 50 pages of their novel. I’m not just going to read it and give a response (which is kind of how it reads on the auction item now). I’m going to read it and edit it in track changes just like I do for my clients. I should tell Brenda to update my listing about that. This is an in-depth edit—probably more than anybody would want but they are getting it anyway!

And I’m going to be brutally honest yet encouraging. I did this last year and I’m excited to do it again this year.

And I’m going to be dropping everything to nail that 24-hour deadline. (Oh please let me be caught up by the end of May so my clients don’t hate me forever!).

But back to my personalized letters. I want the writer to know that I did actually read the manuscript or a good portion of it (as I don’t always read to the end). With that in mind, I will often reference scenes or characters or plot elements in the story to demonstrate my knowledge of it. This is one of the reasons why it can take 20 to 30 minutes to write it. Even if I’m going with the “it’s just not right for me” or “I didn’t fall in love,” I still try and highlight a scene that resonated with me or was interesting so the writer KNOWS that I did read; it’s not just a stock response (even if I’m using some “stock” phrases).

Personalizing takes time.

8 Responses

  1. Jessica said:

    You’re such a nice agent. I remember Miss Snark always saying how nice you are. That’s how I found this blog. How I wish you took inspirational romance . . .
    But, on the upside, thanks for all your advice/info you give. It’s awesome. And I hope you’re caught up by May.

  2. Caryn said:

    Wow! That’s a great prize for the auction.

    As for giving a personal critique, I think it’s wonderful. I submitted a full to Harlequin a while ago (by request) and simply got the “not right for us” reply. It was a little frustrating, since they must have liked it well enough to ask for that much. Of course, I knew why it was rejected, or at least one reason: I had been writing it for Flipside, the romantic comedy line, and it had been dissolved. I was pretty much expecting the rejection. Ah, well. Worth a try. I’d already written the thing, after all.

  3. Paprika said:

    $690? *faints* Please don’t be offended if I don’t bid (I’d love to–really), but you kinda went out of my price range about $650 ago…. LOL

  4. Julie Weathers said:

    Well, there is definitely a reason you are so highly recommended by many of my writer friends.

    I just hope you don’t burn out. It seems like a lot of time and care.

  5. Celesi said:

    What’s this auction for? It’s amazing that you’re raising so much money for a charity!

    Sadly, I don’t think I’ll be done editing by the time the auction expires.

    Your note on personal rejection letters made me happy. I can send my current WiP to you after all. Once I’ve finished editing, of course.

  6. Chooch said:


    I wish that other agents would be as socially competent as you. It’s this type of behavior that makes people want to be associated with you. Thank you.



  7. Just_Me said:

    Suddenly I’m tempted to rob a bank so I can win the auction. Do you mind editing books for people in jail if it isn’t written in crayon?