There’s one type of rejection that brings fear to the minds of all writers, that makes us scream at the top our lungs, that haunts our worst nightmares. And that rejection goes something like this:
“I really enjoyed reading your manuscript, but I’m not the right agent for it.” Or, “I really enjoyed reading your manuscript, but I just didn’t fall in love with.”
I know. I know. It seems so cruel, because can’t they just tell us what’s wrong with it? If it was so perfect, why are they passing??
But here’s the thing: this type of rejection is Not Bad.
As I’ve been learning throughout the past months of interning and just reading the slush at Pitch Wars, subjectivity is present everywhere. And I do mean everywhere. I read tons of awesome-sounding manuscripts in Pitch Wars, for example, with evidence of strong writing and a great story–but many of them just weren’t for me.
There is no real reason for this, either. Yes, in some cases I had my own subjectivity-related issues, but a number of the submissions I passed on were great, with both undeniably strong writing and concepts. In some cases I even recognized there was something great there–and I can’t wait for an agent to pick it up in the coming months. So why did I pass? Sometimes the idea, although interesting, was not something I was as excited about as I wanted to be. Or maybe, it was simply because I didn’t feel like I’d be much of a help mentoring a book with X idea, because a) I felt it stretched out of my line of experience and b) I did not feel as passionate about it as I should. And in an agent’s case, many of those “not for me” rejections mean either a) the plot of book is something that the particular agent doesn’t feel confident selling it for whatever reason–probably because it’s outside his/her area of expertise, but the agent knows that someone else may be able to sell it. Or b) the agent recognized there was something there, but he or she simply didn’t fall in love with it.
And that’s thing: falling in love with it. You want to fall in love with a manuscript. You want to feel passionate about it. And sometimes even when you know something is great, you don’t fall in love with it. And that is OKAY.
So yes, some of you who submitted to me will get that dreaded “This isn’t for me” or “I didn’t fall in love with it” reply. But you know what? It’s a compliment. Really. I get that you hate it. I get that it sucks. But it doesn’t mean you suck. So no matter how horrible those rejections may seem, no matter how much they may tear at your confidence, remember they are not given to everyone. Remember that the agent, that the mentor, truly does think you have something great here.
One day, you will find the right agent for your manuscript. And one day, you will look back on those “I didn’t fall in love with it” rejections, and you will be so appreciative it happened the way it did.