I’ve addressed this a few times on the blog and we’ve even discussed it in a YouTube video, but it is something always worth talking about–the frustration authors feel from form rejections.
I get it, it’s so frustrating when you’ve spent so much time on your manuscript and query letter only to hear, “thanks, not for me,” in a form rejection. The problem I’ve encountered after 20 years of sending rejection letters, is that all too often that’s the very best answer I have.
The Struggle to Personalize Rejections
I have about 10 query rejection options in my queue. They range from you might want to check your word count to suggesting that researching what makes a good query would do you good. I’ve also tried things like the query is good, but the idea isn’t for me, and I don’t represent this genre.
Sometimes those work, but sometimes your query checked off all the boxes–it was a decent enough query, the word count was right, and I represent that genre, but at the end of the day, I just didn’t want to read your book.
Imagine if in the month of January someone dropped off 750 books at your house. They said, pick what you want to read and let us know. You have, according to your own rules, 6-8 weeks to make a decision. In the meantime, you know that in February someone else will be dropping off another 750 books for you to choose from, and they will come again in March.
When you know you have thousands of books coming your way you quickly become very discerning about how you want to spend your time. You know what you like, you know what you don’t, and you know those books that are starting to feel like everything else you’ve read before. They just don’t light you up. That doesn’t mean you can’t put them aside for your best friend or your mom, but even their piles are getting big so it might just be better to return them.
What to Glean from a Form Rejection
The only thing you can glean from a form rejection is that it isn’t right for that agent. That doesn’t mean your next book won’t be and it doesn’t mean another agent won’t love it. It means you check that agent off the list for now and move on. You move on to the next agent and you move on to writing your next book.