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BookEnds Literary Agency How Trends Influence Rejections

How Trends Influence Rejections

There is a misconception that an agent’s rejections are based solely on personal preference. That we pass on something simply because we didn’t like it or didn’t connect with it. And while our personal feelings about a book do play into our decision-making process, they aren’t the sole drivers when making the decision about a submission.

In addition to the writing and being a fit with our list and expertise, agents also need to consider trends or, better put, market demands. To some degree, our job is to sell and we can’t sell to a market that doesn’t want what we’re selling.

A reader asks,

Is it ever simply a matter of the subject (such as Greek gods) being “tired,” and even agents who wanted them with grabby hands a couple of years ago want nothing to do with them? Trends cycle around, right? So if I write other things for a while, at some point what I *want* to write might be salable?

–from The Meaning of Rejection

Yes. Sadly there are times we have passed on a book we might have a year ago considered simply because the subject is tired. One such subject right now tends to be vampires. I know most agents will reject a vampire flat out simply because we’ve grown weary of them and so have readers as evidenced by a giant slump in sales.

Does that mean vampires will come back? Not necessarily. Just like I can’t guarantee Greek gods will become a hot market. In all honesty, Greek gods have always been a difficult sell in some genres.

My suggestion when it comes to writing what you “want” to write is don’t narrow yourself to such a small hook. Authors who fall in love with a genre and then continually explore new and different ideas to write in that genre are far more successful than those who narrow their writing to one simple subject matter.

Sure you might love soup, but as a cookbook writer it will be difficult to build a writing career on soup books only. Branching out to salads, appetizers, and sauces will give you far more depth and reach.

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5 comments

  1. Okay I can fully understand all that, so putting you on the spot for a second. If an author brings you a book that your exited about but the whole idea is half a step away from what you think will sell. What advice do you give?
    I know this is really broad but what do you do? I’ve known and trust your advice for a few years now. I am following the agent I met’s advice, I’m just wondering if you’d do something similar with a piece you like.

    The agent I saw gave me all the advice he thought would help move my ms the half step it needs and explained why he thought it needed it. Then told me to to submit it to him when I’d done. Oh and I didn’t need to follow his advice if I didn’t want to.

    Ps sorry I’m tired and I hope that makes sense.

    1. It depends. If I have a strong vision for revisions I might work with the author on it. I might pass it to another agent. I might just feel it missed the mark and pass. It truly depends on the agent and the specific situation.

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