Saturday, April 20, 2013

R is for Rating Rejection

End of week three of the A to Z Challenge and we're on letter R, for Rating Rejection.

Because I'm traveling, and access to wi-fi spotty, I decided to reissue an old post, which adds to yesterday's discussion on reentering the query gauntlet...

There is such a thing as rejection excellence. Or an excellent rejection.

What makes a rejection excellent? Well, it's not the refusal, that's for sure. But when it comes to rejections, there is a hierarchy.

A non-response? Well, IMHO (In My Humble Opinion) that's just plain mean. A minus grade on the agent's report card. It takes like two heartbeats to fire off a form rejection. And that's at the bottom of the hierarchy. A zero. Gum on the bottom of the shoe. Get nothing but those, and you need to stop, peel away the crap, shine it up good, and resume querying. Don't know sidewalk gunk from penthouse polish? Janet Reid is tops in chewing up and spitting out query-doo. Even better, she explains why it belongs in the gutter. Okay, back to rejection hierarchy.

 Next up from a form rejection, is a personal rejection. 1-star. One directed to your name, not Dear Author, that (possibly) mentions your manuscript title, and says, interesting premise, but we're not currently accepting unpublished authors. Nothing wrong with this. The agent thought enough of you and your plot line to address you personally. You're moving up.

Third rung on the ladder or 2-star is a form rejection following a request for a partial, or full. This happens. And it does not mean your work sucks. It may not be what the agent envisioned from the query letter. Or the agent has another story too similar on her list. Or she accepted a new position on American Idol. Or, if the writing is truly awful (someone helped you write your query letter but not your novel), the agent is trying to send a message: needs work.

 Fourth rung and 3-stars is the personalized rejection letter after a partial/full request. This one is addressed to you, not Dear Author, probably mentions the manuscript title, and essentially says thanks, but not a good fit. This may well be true. Or, the manuscript needs work. You're getting there, but you have to figure out what changes are necessary to get you there.

Rung number five is so close to Yes, you can taste it. A 4-star rejection, it comes after a partial/full request, is personally addressed, mentions your manuscript title, and provides FEEDBACK on how the agent LOVED your writing and premise, and WHY the agent is, after careful consideration, declining. Maybe no specifics are mentioned, but if you have some experience, you can go back over the manuscript and find the problem areas and, if you're a professional and trust the agent is too, you FIX, and query on. With the improvements you made, you will hopefully advance the next rung on the ladder, the 5-star reply.
And of course a 5-star reply is not a rejection, at all.

It's an offer of representation.


Dream lofty dreams, and as you dream, so shall you become. Your vision is the promise of what you shall at last unveil. ~John Ruskin


Lara said...

Hadn't thought of it that way before, but it makes sense! ;)

Lexa Cain said...

Yup, you're right about all the categories. But this business is so subjective that on one query letter, I got lots of every single one of those types of rejections (and non-responses, too). Scores of people can deem your work lacking in one way or another - but it doesn't mean it's true. Otherwise, I wouldn't have just signed with an agent.
Great post!:-)

Sylvia Ney said...

Good post! New follower here. I'm stopping by from the "A to Z" challenge and I look forward to visiting again.


Cathrina Constantine said...

Yup, we've all been there. I can line my wall with my rejections, and frustrated with no responses. But then advice from an editor and so forth, and then BINGO!

Connie Gruning said...

Excellent rating system. I'm not a writer but I will tuck these posts in my back pocket if I ever decide to try.
A to Z-ing to the end
Peanut Butter and Whine

Deborah said...

Hi least in my mind it does. *g*

Hi Lexa...yes, the biz is very subjective. One person's rejections is another's bestseller, which is we must never give up!

Sylvia...thank you for stopping by, and for following! I truly appreciate your input!

Cathrina...congrats on the BINGO. Only lends credence to the sentiment, persistence pays. :)

Connie...thank you. If you're blogging, or putting anything in word form, you are a writer. Thank you so much for popping in!

Take care all,