Pub Rants

Agents Get Rejected Too

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STATUS: I’m ready for an exciting new project to come my way.

What’s playing on the iPod right now? POEMS, PRAYERS, AND PROMISES by John Denver

I know that writers don’t necessarily think of this but agents get rejected as well. Last week I offered representation to an author for a novel that was really really good.

Alas, I wasn’t the only agent who thought so. The author had several offers of representation and in the end, the writer didn’t go with me.

So how does an agent feel when this happens?

Does the agent feel disappointed? Of course! If you really like something, it’s hard when you don’t get a chance to go out with it.

Does the agent feel angry? Not really. You can’t win them all. At least I was seriously in the running.

Does the agent feel validated? Absolutely. It’s always nice to know that my taste isn’t off. If other agents are fighting for the same project, then I was right on how I felt about the manuscript.

Does the agent feel regret? Only when we see the “good” or “significant” or “major” moniker on the deal posting on deal lunch. Grin.

And what might be surprising to writers is that most agents wish the author well. Strange as that may sound it’s actually true. This may sound a little woo-woo but I do think that karma plays a big part in what projects come your way and what is meant to be.

Otherwise this biz could drive you nuts…

27 Responses

  1. Mechelle Fogelsong said:

    Yeah, well I wouldn’t reject you. Ever! So expect to see MY name on future submissions (as you’ve seen it on previous ones).

    You’re top notch. I’ve done my homework, and I’m sure about that.

    Sometimes I wonder though, if I really want one agent in particular, should I submit to other agents first? That way, I’ll have a chance to edit and revise my query umpteen times before I send it to the agent I want most. Sounds corny maybe, but the thought has crossed my mind.

  2. Anonymous said:

    I was in the hapy but agonising position of having to choose between three agents. They were all wonderful, all had different stengths and I’d have been overjoyed to go with any of them. It was the hardest decision of my life – I hated the idea of rejecting any of te. In the end it was the wider context of their agencies that decided it for me.

  3. Kristi Faith said:

    Let me quickly agree with ‘inadvertent Critic’ that your music taste rocks. I always enjoy seeing what your listening to. 🙂

    Other than that, thanks for this particular post. To me, sometimes agents seem to be this higher power that we, as unpublished authors, can’t touch. So, it was nice to see your post reaching across the figurative gap.

  4. Gordon Jerome said:

    It’s interesting what you say about karma. I suppose I feel the same way. I mean, I’m not religious in any way, but I’m pretty sure God exists, and since He does, I’m pretty sure His providence is total, which means exactly what you implied: the deals that are meant for you are going to come to you–they don’t have any choice. Nothing happens by chance. There are no accidents.

    Just like from this author’s perspective, God puts my novels where He will. My job apparently is just to write them, then a synopsis, then a query, send out the queries, and move on. What’s going to be will be. And if God is out to get me, nothing can stop that. If God is out to help me, well then, nothing can stop that either.

    It’s hard to see it, but this deal might easily have meant your utter ruin. The people you would have come in contact with, the financial dynamics involved, the impact on your life could have just as easily been horribly negative as it could have been joyfully lucrative.

    I guess it all depends on whether you fundamentally believe God is out to get you or out to help you.

    Now, I feel a short story brewing. Oh yeah, a spin off of a Christmas Carol only in this case an agent is visited by three authors who off’d themselves (in horrible ways, of course) because she wouldn’t represent them. One would speak only in stilted and unrealistic dialogue, the other would only speak in adverbs, and the last one would be constantly self-confessing and never getting to a point.

    Alas, I digress.

    But seriously, there’s no reason at all to believe this deal that got away would have been anything less than disastrous for you. Any disappointment you might be feeling, while completely understandable, might just as well be completely misplaced. If you had got it, you might not have opened the next query letter. And that might have been from the next really hot thing.

    Good luck.

  5. Susan at Stony River said:

    I enjoyed this; I especially liked thinking of how it must feel to choose between agents’ offers (wow).

    When I first started submitting, rejections broke my heart. Twenty years and a balance of published/rejected stories later, I feel grateful that someone took the time to consider my work and then reply, so rejections just mean “move on down the list”.

    ‘Course, the mellowing might be an age thing too LOL.

  6. Anonymous said:

    I’m guessing, though, that you get the courtesy of a personal, timely response when you’re rejected, and not a faintly xeroxed form letter which takes at least six months to arrive.

  7. Eric said:

    Nice post, and something we should all keep in mind. Writers aren’t the only ones trying to make things happen.

    Oh, and I couldn’t help but notice that the two detractors put in their two cents, albeit anonymously. Imagine that.

    Thanks for sharing anyway, Kristin.

  8. RKCharron said:

    Hi 🙂
    Thanks for the great post.
    It reinforces my belief that agents are bibliolaters (def: people with an extreme devotion to or concern with books).
    Love & Best Wishes,

  9. Caroline Starr Rose said:

    I got a really supportive rejection yesterday from an agent I hoped to be the one. As disappointing as it was, I appreciate her commitment to loving the work of her clients, not just thinking it well crafted.

    That’s what I’m looking for in an agent: someone who sees beyond structure and voice to the heart of the story (and falls in love with it).

  10. Pablo said:

    I was in the fortunate position of having more than one offer of representation. I found it difficult to notify the agents to decline their offers because they were people who connected with my writing, too. I mean, that’s what I’d been looking for, what we’re all looking for as writers.

    And,both of those agents sent me a note congratulating me and wishing me well.

  11. Eileen said:

    This business could drive you nuts? I think it’s safe to say many of us are already there. We drove in years ago. We’ve already built homes in crazy town. : )

  12. Anonymous said:

    Someone else asked this question above though it hasn’t been answered yet. I’d also like to know whether you should submit to the agents on your B list before submitting to the ones on your A list. That way you might be able to take suggestions, edit your work and submit it to the agents you really want…though I’m not sure how ethical that is. At the same time, wouldn’t it be worse to get rejected by all the ones you really wanted?

  13. therese said:

    Love the John Denver – suddenly hearing his songs a lot. Thanks!

    Thanks for sharing that you follow projects you like, even if you didn’t get them. It’s your work, what you do, and good energy spreads best.

    This is a good example – for those debating sending to B lists before querying A lists:
    1. there are reasons these agents are on your A list.
    2. B list agents deserve the same respect you would give your A list
    3. one of those B list agents might be the one!
    4. Make sure it’s your best work, be professional.

    No agent with critique your query. They will either request or pass, no matter which list you have them on.