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“I’m Going to Have to Pass”

Yesterday I received a thoughtful and thorough rejection of a manuscript. The agent was encouraging but ultimately “didn’t really fall in love with the writing as much as [she] would have liked.” Which, I guess, means she didn’t like the book? I mean, she said it had great bones, but . . .

I think “nice” rejections are almost harder to take than form rejections. I am so, so grateful the agent took the time to really spell out what did and didn’t work for her—and she’d had the manuscript since December, so yeah, she took the time—but there’s something about such rejections that sharpen the sense of defeat. The “if only” in your head gets louder. The feeling that you’ve done your best and still aren’t good enough is more acute.

And that’s kind of ridiculous since the rejection actually stated: “I can sense, somehow, that you’re capable of developing this more.” Ugh. That’s a tennis ball lobbed at me when my muscles are already aching from playing for so long.

What I want and need is an agent who will help me with refining the manuscript. But those agents are few and far between these days. Used to be, if an agent saw potential, they’d help you develop that. Now they want you to have something sparkling and shiny from the get-go. And even though I think my manuscript is fairly polished, the agents still just seem to see a rock.

Now, I suppose, people hire developmental editors to do the polishing. But I can’t afford that. (And yes, I did work as a developmental editor, but every good editor knows she shouldn’t edit her own book. You need outside eyes.) My critique groups and beta readers have been very helpful, but apparently I still need more.

There are still a couple agents looking at the book. Maybe . . . maybe . . . But I don’t hold out much hope at this point. I’m heartbroken and exhausted.



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