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My Christmas gift was a second rejection letter from an agent I originally queried in January, 2018. The rejection back then (received the same day), contained a sentence with personal, direct, actionable feedback to which I could respond. She was absolutely correct and I spent several grateful months revising my story into what I KNOW is a much better book.
Now, I am of the mind that a rejection from an agent is a rejection, so I had no intention of re-querying the woman who’d been so helpful…but then at the beginning of December I looked her up again. A FAQ page on her agency website included this:
You turned me down a while back, but I’ve thoroughly revised my work. Can I try again?
If you’ve genuinely made it substantially different (and, one hopes, better) then we don’t at all mind if you come back to us and offer it again. Just be up front about it when you do, and if we think that a re-read might be to our and your benefit, we’ll be happy to do so.
Oh what the heck. I sent another query. Three weeks later, I received the following:
Thanks for thinking of me again! You’re a good writer and this premise is inventive. That said, I’m just not finding myself invested on this second time around—speculative/magical content is always a tough buy-in for my taste...
Am I disappointed? Yeah. Accepting? I guess. Pleased at least that the response seems to be personal? Absolutely. Hanging on to the phrase, “You’re a good writer?” More than anything.
Why is this one rejection so important to me? Well, here's the thing. Right now, my query-tracking spreadsheet lists ten open queries out for between 4-8 months to which I have received NOTHING…not even an automatic “Not for me, thank you.” I received one request for a full manuscript that’s been out since August, also with no further feedback. (Note to self. Follow up.) The above statistics don’t include queries I sent prior to my re-write, which I’ve marked “assumed rejection” after hearing nothing over many months. In my limited experience, when querying traditional publishers, no news is NOT good news. So, a simple, quick, marginally personal response says to me an agent is thoughtful, caring and respects writers’ feelings. And, while I won’t make a habit of it, this experience also taught me that the world didn’t come to an end because I queried twice.
In truth, I’m questioning whether this poor book is going anywhere. That said, if I haven’t attracted an agent by the time I’m ready to query my next book (which does not contain speculative or magical content), she’ll be the first on my list.
Wishing you a happy New Year and a 2019 filled with writing success.