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Form Rejections 101

A reader asks:

Do many of you have more than one version of a form rejection? In other words:
Version A: Heck no, you didn’t even follow our guidelines
Version B: Thank you, but no thanks/I could never sell this
Version C: Great writing, tons of potential but no room on my list
I ask because I’m starting to see more following the form of Version C, but they still seem like form rejections (which I am grateful for: any response is better than no response)!

I can’t answer for all agents of course, but I can tell you what I do.

For queries, I tend to have only one response, although I will make an effort to tell an author when the query they sent needs work (ala Version A) or when I think there’s another agent at BookEnds they should specifically contact.

With requested submissions I will attempt to personalize it a bit, but in the end I think I mostly end up with some variation of Version C. I’m not going to lie though, on particularly snarky days (and with a certain type of author) I sometimes wish I had a version that read, “Um. No.” But I don’t.

Version C is a form letter and it’s possible that along the way everyone suddenly shifted their letter to match this. It’s also possible that people like your writing, characters, and plot and it’s all “fine,” but it doesn’t yet have that special spark that makes it really different and marketable. It’s hard to say for sure if you’re not getting specific feedback and for that reason (lack of specifics) I don’t think I’d over-analyze it.

Good luck and thank you for the question.

 

 

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One comment

  1. Any rejection hurts. Even if you have big shoulders. The problem is there are stages a writer goes through with rejection which go something like this:
    1. Read rejection. Tears, wailing and self-flagellation.
    2. Chocolate
    3. Re-read rejection making sure to read between the lines.
    4. Realise they liked your fast-paced narrative and voice but didn’t connect with characters.
    5. Rewrite characters.
    6. Query again.

    If I am going to get a form letter, I’d be perfectly happy with it saying “thanks, but no thanks – form rejection” so it was really clear. And maybe if it was that simple more agencies would be like BookEnds and actually respond with a no instead of crickets.

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