Life over the last week has been a stark contrast of, well, everything: there’s gorgeous, sunny weather outside (yay for the southern hemisphere!), all the time in the world to work on my books and hone my craft, and to top it all off, an endless supply of kind-of-encouraging rejection letters from literary agents.
On the one hand, at least they haven’t all been form letters. Even better, I’ve actually been getting responses. From what I hear (and read), that’s unusual at best. And strangely, it seems that from the agent perspective, my writing is good. The pitch is even good. It’s just not great.
The responses I’ve received read along the lines of: “We really liked it, but it’s not what our agency is looking for right now,” or, “the prose was great, but the premise, we didn’t love it.” (Kind of the way your mom says “I don’t really love it” when your new shirt is a little too revealing.) Probably the cream of the crop was, “It just didn’t pull me in, the way I would need it to in order to represent it, but there is a lot to admire about your work.”
The one I got today was probably the best and the worst, because it was the most flattering, and in the same exact moment, the most totally depressing of the bunch. I won’t name the agent, mainly because it was really quite sweet of him/her to write me this personalized letter, and it would just seem rude.
Thank you for the chance to look at a bit of your story. While I think that you’re hitting on some of the current memes (maybe it is time for angels and demons again), this is not the sort of story that I’m looking to add to the agency’s list at this time. I am sure though, after looking at the prose, that you’re going to find an agent out there who does love this. We’re a very small agency and can’t take on everyone we like, only the ones that we absolutely love. I regret that I can only offer you all my best wishes for your future success.
It’s frustrating to get a letter like this because you want to be upset, but you just can’t be. Sometimes you just want an excuse to let out a little choked gasp or sink your head in your hands, but you feel a warm glow inside because a real agent out there in the big, wide publishing world actually thinks your stuff might be okay.
It did bum me out, though, that he/she thought my book was about angels and demons. It just sounded so shallow, and it makes me wonder if perhaps my pitch comes off as shallow. The series isn’t about Heaven or Hell; the purpose of it is to chip away at that stupid dichotomy of good versus evil, to show that someone could be born a god or a devil and all that matters is what is inside him.
But, c’est la vie. Like everything else over the last few weeks, receiving five rejection letters in the course of a week has been a learning experience. It has imparted upon me the knowledge that I need to better hone my pitch; that the book is not gripping from the get-go and needs some reworking; and that, in the end, at least these agents seem confident I’ll find someone to represent me eventually.
Man, I hope they’re right.