“A lot of replies to form rejections today, asking for feedback. No matter how tempting, resist.”
Here’s the thing, guys: If an agent had a strong opinion to share with you AND the time to share it, they wouldn’t have used a form reponse.
I sometimes get queries for things that are not even YA or MG (the only “genres” I represent) and the time it takes just to copy/paste a seperate form for those folks was throwing off my rhythm. I went back to a blanket form for all. To actually type up specific notes–even just a sentence– for each query means I’d be spending a half hour of every day writing responses to writers I did not plan to work with. That means if I stay away from the query box for just a week, it would take me almost four hours to type up responses.
Any time I send out more than a dozen rejections at once, I can count on getting a few “thank you for your time” responses (not neccessary at all at the query stage, but harmless) and one or two asking for feedback.
I know it’s frustrating to get nothing but forms. The first project I ever queried got twelve of them and no requests at all.
I know you can’t learn anything from them, and you don’t know what to do without actual feedback. But there are many, many resources for you– Absolute Write, Verla Kay, SCBWI, RWA– the list goes on and on. Other writers can help you build and hone your query.
The other thing is… I’ve passed on a half-dozen projects which had offers on the table from other agents. I pass on queries every day that are well written, accompanied by solid writing. . Those writers probably will sign agents, it just won’t be me. Did you read and love Twilight? Wicked Lovely? Anna and the French Kiss? Thirteen Reasons Why? The Forest of Hands and Teeth? Hatchet?
You might love some of those books. But I bet you don’t love all of them. I don’t love every well-written query + sample no more than I love every book I buy at the store.
And if I did love every project that was well-written, I’d have 100, 200, 300 or more clients by now. I have to pick and choose projects the resonate specifically with me, because I’m the one who may spend months pitching and submitting your project. I’m the one who has to write up a pitch and convey my enthusiasm.
I finished a full manuscript this week and I thought to myself– If this was a published book, I could see reccomending it to X friend. And I mean that. It was well written. Interesting. It kept me turning pages.
But the commitment and effort it takes to represent a project is on a whole ‘nother level than enjoying a book just for the sake of reading it.
That’s why, then, it’s so hard to give feedback. A book is not a widget, or a car, or a house. I can’ tpoint to a crooked wall and say, unequivically, it needs to be fixed. I can’t say that you should tighten those two bolts before you show it to the next person.
Because the things I say could be wrong. The next person you query could love it as it is. So If I haven’t even read your full manuscript (I DO provide feedback on fulls), then I’m not going to be able to provide you feedback– both becuase of time and becuase in most cases, what you’ve sent me is perfectly good. It’s just not for me.