DC Area Storytellers

The DC Area Storytellers are a group of authors of multiple genres residing in or near the Washington, DC area. Published within the fields of romance, science fiction, fantasy, paranormal, fiction and non-fiction, this diverse group of authors offers a wide range of works for readers to savor.

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Worse Rejections

Thursday, May 14, 2009

How do agents and editors really think? Puzzling out rejections.

Not long ago I read a lively blog thread on “worst rejections,” a topic productive of endless reminiscence and speculation. Have you received rejections that baffled you with their ambiguity and cluelessness? Or, worse yet, an implicit rejection in the form of a requested submission being completely ignored?

Very early in my attempt at a writing career, I mailed a follow-up query about a story I’d sent to a small magazine and got a reply to the effect of, “all unsolicited manuscripts have been returned.” What the heck did that mean? All the submissions were so inferior they were rejected in disgust? The magazine was overstocked and therefore automatically returned all manuscripts? They were currently closed?

My two most baffling rejections came from agents. When first trying to sell my werewolf novel SHADOW OF THE BEAST, I sent the prologue and synopsis to an agent who then requested the full manuscript. She eventually rejected the novel on the grounds that a book should begin with something “important” happening. I thought, “Good grief, it starts with both of the heroine’s siblings being killed by a feral animal!” I later realized I’d made a newbie mistake in not including the prologue because the agent already had it. By the time she got the rest of the book, she must have forgotten all about the prologue and thought the story started with the heroine catching a bus to work.

My other most peculiar (and exasperating) agent rejection followed an appointment at the 2000 RWA con. I’d pitched a vampire romance and made it perfectly clear that paranormal romance was the only kind I wanted to write. The agent asked to see the partial. A few months later, she rejected the novel because—it was “too paranormal” for her!

Do you have any provocative or puzzling tales from the rejection trenches?



  1. Dana Marie Bell said...

    A friend of mine queried an agent and got a request for a partial. Four months later he contacted the agent to find out the status of his query. The agent replied that all unsolicited manuscripts were summarily rejected.

    When he reminded the agent that a partial had been requested the agent was apologetic. He STILL doesn't know the status of his partial.

    Needless to say he's very frustrated, but he gets that this is just part of the job, so he's doing his best to take it in stride.

    May 14, 2009 at 4:26 PM  

  2. Kristen said...

    I wish I could offer some comfort or advice. I am so scared of rejection that I have yet to submit my novels for publication. I can tell you that some of the country's best selling books were rejected dozens of times before they were accepted, so don't give up. If you like paranormal fiction I have a good book you could check out. It's called Forbidden: The Temptation. Samantha Sommersby’s Forbidden universe rocks with sexy vampires, wildly irreverent weres, and sassy kick-butt heroines.

    May 14, 2009 at 6:48 PM  

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