It is a common mistake for a writer to receive a rejection letter and assume the agent is not interested in their work. This couldn’t be further from the truth. The express purpose of a rejection letter is to encourage those authors who simply won’t take no for an answer.
Below you will find examples of the most common things literary agents say, and what they are actually trying to tell you.
1. We hope you will not be discouraged by this reply
We hope you will pester us endlessly, until we are so frustrated we simply give in.
2. Thank you for the opportunity to consider your work, but I am sorry to say that I do not think this material would be right for me, and therefore I would not make your most effective advocate.
Thank you for the opportunity to consider your work, and I am delighted to say that I think this is the greatest book ever written; I therefore plan to rave about it to everybody I know.
3. Unfortunately the project you describe isn’t right for us. We wish you all the best in your writing endeavours.
The project you describe sounds perfect for us. Please send me your entire literary output as one MS Paint file. Don’t forget to include anything you may have written in the third grade.
4. Unfortunately, after careful review, I have decided to pass on this submission.
You had me spellbound from the moment you misspelled my name.
5. This business is subjective and opinions vary widely.
The only opinion worth listening to is mine, and I think you’re a genius.
6. I’m sure another agent will feel differently, and with the vast array of opinions in the industry, I wish you the best in finding the right representation.
I was having lunch with Steven Spielberg the other day and we got chatting about your story idea – you know, the one about the gladiatorial death-matches between disabled children? He was very excited about it, but I think we should still shop it around before making any rash decisions.
7. Because my resources are limited, I can only devote my energy to projects that I feel passionate about.
I’m a wealthy gadabout who inherited the state of Alaska from his parents. When there’s a cocaine shortage I while away my considerable leisure time responding to query letters.
8. I am frequently overwhelmed with commitments to my current clients, so in any given year I must be selective taking on any new author.
I’ve put Stephen King and J.K. Rowling on the backburner so that I can concentrate on developing your writing career.
9. Please forgive this impersonal response, but the volume of queries we receive prevents us from responding individually.
I was so excited about your query that I stayed up all night composing this email just for you. I hope you like it.
10. Best wishes
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