Raises hand. I’m guilty of these two:
1. “I just didn’t fall in love with the work as much as I had hoped.”
An oldie but goodie. I’m sure every writer has heard this one before! Lots of times it’s true though. Sometimes it’s decently written, an interesting concept, but it’s just not speaking to me. I do try and give a personalize comment or two if I read sample pages though.
2. “Although an interesting story concept and some solid writing, I didn’t see this work fitting into my list”
This means I honestly have no idea what to do with the work. It’s outside of my wheelhouse as an agent. Or, I don’t know what the market would be for it or no editors are popping to mind for submit list. Probably another version of this response is “it’s simply not right for me” or “I don’t have a vision for how I would handle this work.”
So why do agents resort to some typical or canned responses? It’s not because we don’t want to be helpful but it’s often a question of time and not wanting to be hurtful if a writer’s work really isn’t ready for an agent to see quite yet. Also, if an agent personalizes responses, invariably writers want to get into a dialogue about the why of it and how they can improve. There really isn’t time for that….
Now like I said, if I read the sample pages, I do try and constructively point out one thing that didn’t make it work for me. Often times I can see another agent thinking differently and if that’s the case, I’ll say so in my response.
There has to be dozens more writers see regularly.
So what other agent rejection responses should go on this bingo card?