Rejection: The Other Side of the Story

November 21st, 2005 · 1 Comment
by Booksquare

We know writers who analyze rejections more carefully than they do their horoscopes. Every word is turned upside-down. Every comma is considered. Does the lack of a hyphen here mean she hated it? It must. Woe to the agent or editor who spills a drop of coffee on an otherwise pristine rejection. That people have strata for rejections should be clue enough that it’s a system run amok.

Agent Jennifer Jackson tackles rejection from another perspective — hers. First she sets the scene:

She spends the next couple hours, reading and sorting through various submissions. Many of them are competently written but just don’t have that something special that will make them stand out from the crowd. Some of them, frankly, make her wonder if she lives in the same universe as the writer’s mother who has declared the book the best magnum opus ever written. And then she opens a package, glances at the first page, reads a bit further, and discovers that she’s fallen in love all over again. This is what she was looking for. This is the manuscript that will restore her faith in author-kind. This is the best thing she’s read, well, since the last manuscript that had her taking on a new client. She reads it on the way home, she stays up until 3am, and she calls the author the very next morning to offer representation.

As the agent and her new author embark upon their honeymoon, the manuscript goes forth in the world. And learns the hard, cold truth about reality: avoid it.

She continues submitting and time passes. Someone makes an off-handed comment about how difficult it is to launch first-time authors. She has a crisis of faith. Why doesn’t anyone want this book? Surely, if they wanted it badly enough they would find a place for it. Is she the only one who loves it? Worse yet – could she be wrong? She goes back and reads the rejection letters, of which there are now several. They are painful to behold. Do they question her ability to perceive good story? Maybe she’s just not cut out for this agenting gig after all. Her anguish brings her back to the manuscript. Perhaps there is something she missed; something she might now see that she’s more experienced. She can find it if only she tries hard enough and then a sale will be certain.

File Under: Agents

1 response so far ↓

  • Ms. Green // Dec 1, 2005 at 10:03 am

    Hi. This question/comment is for Ms. Jennifer Jackson. I read your post and had a question or two. First, I would like to say that I am quite familiar and impressed with you and the Donald Maass agency. I am currently working on my 2nd novel, which I plan to submit to you only once it’s polished of course!:*) But, my question is this: I know that your agency specializes in sci-fi/fantasy. I read that you all do represent horror also, but is that a preference or specialty for you as well? I am currently working on what would be considered a horror/fantasy type novel. Do I submit to you, Mr. Maass, or Ms. Vater? Thanks Ms. Jackson!
    ~Ms. Green