submitting to agents

What Does This Rejection Wording Mean?

Dear Editor…

I’m trying to decipher the meaning of vague feedback I received in a rejection letter. The agent said that even though my premise is “fascinating,” the agent did not “feel myself fully connecting with the writing here. Ultimately, I do not feel I’m the right agent for it.” Any thoughts about what message I should take away from this?

Puzzled Writer

Dear Puzzled Writer…

Shrug this one off. Sometimes an agent just isn’t enamored with a piece of writing. Is it the narrative voice, the sentence styling, the dialogue? Who knows? Maybe the agent doesn’t even know—and it’s not their job to figure it out, so you don’t get any details you could use to strategize a revision. I know that’s frustrating. But consider this: It’s just as likely the agent thought, “It’s good…I’m just not wild about it”—which is a fair Subjective Reaction. I’m sure you’ve read books that your friends raved about and thought, “It’s good, but I’m not wild about it like they are.” Don’t let this response seed doubt. Log it in the “Not the Agent For Me” column and move on. After all, you’ve got a project with a fascinating premise—there’s an agent out there just waiting to rave about it to publishers.

Happy writing!
The Editor

The Editor, Deborah Halverson, has been editing books for over 25 years and specializes in Middle Grade/Young Adult fiction and nonfiction, New Adult fiction, and picture books. For her editorial guidance in making your manuscript ready for submission to agents and publishers or for self-publishing, click Editorial services. Learn more in her books: Writing Young Adult Fiction for Dummies and Writing New Adult Fiction.

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