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we're not currently accepting unpublished authors.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
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
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