Q10: Best & Worst Rejections

(This question is part of a larger subseries called Perpetual WIPs: Agented Writers. For the remaining questions, see here.)

What are the worst and best comments you’ve gotten in rejections?

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One agent said that she could feel the passion and intensity from the early pages, which was what I was aiming for. It was an upbeat letdown, you know? I guess the “worst” would be the series of agents who all said that they didn’t connect with the MC’s voice. Not a bad comment at all, really, but it left me wondering how to improve.

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Oh, I have a document with my comments! The worst are variations on not connecting with the voice, because that’s so subjective and you can’t revise to it. The best was “the quality of writing is better than most of the material that crosses my desk.” And overall, for me, the hardest part is when the agents tell you completely different things. If they all lined up and had the same issues, I’d know I had something to fix, but each one has a different issue, so I guess it comes down to a matter of taste. I know that goes in a slightly different direction than your question, but it’s an overall comment on rejections.

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Worst: “Sorry. As stated on my bio page on our website:  [Agent X] does NOT represent romance, cozy mysteries, sci-fi, fantasy, paranormal or dystopian fiction, nor does she handle YA, children’s, middle grade or poetry.”

Best: “I will have to respectfully decline your offer to see more of your manuscript. You deserve an agent who’s passionate about your work, and I wasn’t able to connect with the voice or the main character enough to pursue this as a project. I urge you to keep looking for an agent whose interests match your work. Thank you so much for sharing your work with me. I wish you the best of luck.”

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“I found MC to be rather unlikable” or the “I’m not interested in this”. The best was “This is awesome, but my client is working on something a little too similar.”

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Honestly, rejections are tough. Most of the comments I’ve gotten have been so subjective and generic that they haven’t been very helpful in knowing if I need to change something in this MS. And everyone seems to have a different opinion.

The best comments I’ve gotten have been to praise my writing and skill, as well as the story idea and format.

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The worst comments are definitely the vague ones, like “I didn’t fall in love with the characters.” I did get a helpful comment that my first ms moved too slowly, which was something I’d been struggling with for a while, and it was helpful to know that was (at least part of) the reason it was getting rejected.

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I take rejections pretty well. For me, actually, the worst comments are when they LOVE IT! But then they still don’t offer. It hurts worse, sometimes, to get so close and trip at the finish line. Also, getting a form on a full request kind of stinks. The LOVE IT comments are also sometimes the best, too. It really depends on my mood before I read the R. Though once I got a rejection from an agent months after I closed out the query. He was a non responder, but he said he took the time to email to say he wasn’t going to offer but that he thought I had real talent, etc. That was the best rejection I’ve ever gotten

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The best was an agent who took the to type my name, and tell me exactly why she was passing. I wasn’t crushed like I usually am with a rejection. I felt positive about it and like I knew what I could change.

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Best: “Your writing is absolutely lovely and confident; you are clearly ready to go to the next level.” and “Your prose is beautiful though, and I’m sure you’ll find a great home for it.” Worst: anything with BUT

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3 thoughts on “Q10: Best & Worst Rejections”

  1. Dahlia,
    I loved this thread and was interested to hear other writers sound off on their best and worst rejection letters.
    I recently wrote a blog post and listed nearly 30 rejections I have received over the years for several titles I submitted. It’s interesting. Feel free to pop on over to see more rejections.
    Musings by Donna #57 Love It — But
    http://donnaodonnellfigurski.wordpress.com/2013/04/26/musings-by-donna-57-love-it-but/

    Donna O’Donnell Figurski
    donnaodonnellfigurski.com
    donnaodonnellfigurski.wordpresss.com

  2. NancyS.Goodman said:

    I received a rejection from an agent who went to the trouble to tell me what was wrong with my submission. (POV, headhopping). I appreciated it and emailed her back a thank you.

  3. I hardly ever receive a personal rejection. For one MS, I’ve received two that have given me info to actually work with–both seemed to think I wrote well, and both said the MS wasn’t dystopian enough. Which makes me wonder what on earth to label it. If I say contemporary, it’s not. If I say dystopian, again, it’s not. I like the label urban fantasy, meaning there’s a normalcy to the story, but with fantastical elements. Wonder if I could say it’s an urban dystopia? 😀 Hmmm… I think I just came up with a new blog topic. 😉

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