The Problem with Feedback on Rejections

I’ve seen a lot of agents write blogs on the problem with giving feedback on rejections, or the answer to why they don’t give feedback. Primarily it’s a consideration for time with most agents. One I completely understand. 

That being said, I do make an effort to give some sort of feedback on every partial or manuscript that I’ve requested and am subsequently rejecting. The problem with that is that the feedback I’m giving is usually not going to be nearly as comprehensive as what you need.
I’ve got a few form letters I use when giving feedback. I tend to tweak them to fit each manuscript so that what I’m saying still fits each manuscript personally. My concern with that, always, is that I think too often the feedback comes across as simplistic, giving the author the misunderstanding that it’s an easy fix and therefore the road to an easy agent.
Usually an agent’s feedback is the tip of the iceberg of what needs to be changed. In other words, you’re going to have to read between the lines a bit to see what the agent is saying specifically and what that could mean globally to your manuscript. And, of course, before you ever make any changes you need to make sure that what the agent is saying actually resonates with you because I guarantee you won’t be able to successfully revise your book unless you believe, in your heart, in the changes.
–jhf

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3 comments

  1. Your last paragraph really resonated with me. I had one agent offer feedback on an early draft and the comments were what my little voice was trying to tell me, only I refused to listen. I heard the same comments loud and clear when they arrived via the agent. I hope I've learned something along the way.

  2. You say: "the feedback I'm giving is usually not going to be nearly as comprehensive as what you need".

    Maybe the feedback isn't as much as you think is needed, but just giving feedback is an enormous boost to any writer.

  3. I whole-heartedly agree with Kelli, especially that final line. That should be screamed out loud and clear. "I guarantee you won't be able to successfully revise your book unless you believe, in your heart, in the changes." Truly inspired ~ inspiring.

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