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once more into the breach

this morning at way-too-early i spent an hour or so fixing the plot lines down for Another Night*, which was a very good thing, and this afternoon i biked down to the post office and sent a manuscript of NGD direct to one of the publishers that accept un-agented submissions. what the heck, right?

i’ve still got a few agent queries out there, but earlier this week i received another rejection for the book, which wasn’t so awesome. that being said, this one at least wasn’t a form letter, which was awesome, but the message has been on my mind quite a bit. in essence, this agent said he was very excited by the query letter and the premise was a great new angle on the crowded urban fantasy, but that the voice simply didn’t click for him. there followed the requisite ‘this is subjective/someone else will surely love it’ items, but i can’t get the first part out of my head. this is the most positive and personal response i’ve had to date, and it seems to make the whole message worse.

why?

for the same reason my students hate peer reviews: anyone can say something is broke or doesn’t work, but that’s nearly useless if he or she can’t explain why.** i’m more than willing to say i don’t actually enjoy being told my writing doesn’t work, but what good is that if i’m not also told why or how? i certainly understand that liking or disliking something is inherently subjective, but i’ve yet to find a situation for myself where i can’t discover the source of that feeling (either way). yes, this can take more time, and yes agents read hundreds of queries and sample pages a week, but i also think that there is far too much emphasis on not offending people in this arena. i don’t mean agents should be abusive or mean, but if the author can’t take a balanced statement that their work is not up to par or lacks elements, then that author needs to stop clogging up the field for the rest of us who are committed to getting better at this craft.

okay, so this is a rant and i’ve gotten off track. in all fairness, i have to say that i very much appreciate the positive things stated in the rejection letter. that much at least indicates that i have something going for me, but to be told that he was excited to read it but that it just didn’t click so he’s going to pass makes me feel like i made it to the doorway only to have it shut on me because of some spinach in my teeth that i didn’t (and still don’t) know was there.

so, stop complaining about it and ask him for more explanation, already! the worst he can do is say he doesn’t have time for such interchanges, and you’re no worse off than you were before. the best he can do is see that you’re committed and perhaps consider a dialogue towards a revision/resubmission.

well, okay, fair point.

* which will have to get another title, i think, given the direction changes.

**much less – and this is just crazy talk – goes so far as to suggest specific improvement(s).

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