August 8, 2011
December 15, 2010
I received a rejection letter today.
A personal one. One of those ‘It is not you. It’s me’ kind of rejection letter.
The kind that gives you hope.
For agents are way too busy to bother to answer unless they mean what they say. And if they do write you back, I was told, you are almost there.
Or so I want to believe.
Specially because this letter was quite lovely. For a rejection letter, that is.
Dear Ms. Ferreiro, it started.
Thanks so much for your query. Though your writing is solid, with the plight of the princess and her whipping boy vividly portrayed, I’m afraid I’m not the right agent for this project.
I wish you much luck in getting TITLE published.
See? I told you it was lovely.
And she even got my name right.
What made this rejection letter even more special is that it was the second one.
No, I don’t mean the second rejection letter I’ve received–I’ve received so many, in fact, that I had lost count–but the second one from that same agent for the same submission.
Weird, I know.
And so I was thinking. You know how in English two ‘No’ means a ‘Yes’?
As in, if I say “I do not want nothing” I’m really saying “I want something”.
And remember how many times your Mother said, “No, of course, you can’t eat that cookie before dinner,” and you ate it anyway as if she had said yes?
So I wonder, could it be possible that this agent meant ‘yes’ by rejecting me twice?
She did write me an awfully nice letter.
And I’m sure she’s very busy, being Christmas and all.
So what do you think? Should I call her and ask?
For Christmas’s sake?
November 6, 2009
Let’s start with the obvious: Editors and agents are people. They come in all shapes and sizes and have different tastes. Their likes and dislikes are their own. Their rejection of your manuscript does not reflect on your writing, but in their inability to fall in love with it.
Agents and editors are flooded with submissions. They have the prerogative of being selective. They will only represent the stories they love.
And that is their right.
Yours is to keep looking for the agent/editor that will fall in love with yours.
So keep that rejection letter in perspective. Don’t throw the manuscript away, but send it again. Because what one editor/agent hates, another will love. You just have to find the right one.
You don’t believe me?
Let’s do an exercise.
Here are two versions of a description of a lake up in the mountains of Spain, a setting in a young adult novel I’m working on.
One of the versions is mine (not necessarily number one). The other is a rewrite from a person in my critique group.
Once you have read them, please, leave a comment saying which one you like best.
There is not right or wrong answer. If you choose the one I wrote, I’ll be pleased. If you choose the other, you’ll prove my point: not everyone has the same taste. And its corollary: not everyone will love your writing.
And that is okay. Who would want to go to a party where every one is wearing the same dress?
The water was black like the boy had said. Black and still, like a piece of night fallen to earth. A perfect circle from where I stood at the edge of the ridge: a full black moon trapped in the mountains.
Black and still, like a piece of night fallen to earth, the lake formed a perfect circle from where I stood at the edge of the ridge: a full black moon trapped in the mountains.
Carmen Ferreiro Esteban