Wow. Here I am again, writing about literary rejections. This one will be short because I think the point is easily made but it also has some writing encouragement as well. Writers: I invest my time and energy in the success of my clients. That is what I am paid to do. I brainstorm ideas with them, talk to them, figure what houses and editors are good fits for their work, give them notes on their manuscripts and, in general, spend a lot of time thinking about their careers. I do not do this for the people in my slush. Unless what they send me completely blows me away and they become my clients.
If you query me, please do not expect me to critique your manuscript for you after I reject it. Do not turn around and ask what was wrong with it, what parts didn’t work, what could be better. I understand that you want these answers. I understand that querying agents can be a lonely, confusing process fraught with pain and dealing with rejection that can hurt your writing confidence.
Literary Rejections: Don’t Expect Free Feedback
But it’s not my job to provide free critiques and writing encouragement on all of the literary rejections that cross my desk. At conferences, organizers charge a lot of money for a critique with an agent. Because they’re worth that much. That’s not my ego talking. Let me explain (with a brilliant analogy I borrowed from another writer). A person usually balks at a repairman who comes and fixes their appliance with a 15-cent washer and charges them $500 bucks. “All he had to do is stick that washer in there!” they shout. What they don’t take into account is the years that repairman spent learning the trade or the time he spends practicing it. Sure, the washer cost 15 cents, but it’s not like the customer knew where to stick it himself.
Skills Come With a Price
It’s the same thing with the skills I’ve learned. They have come through me from an expensive education, work experience and years and years and years of reading, writing, and soaking up the wisdom and expertise of agents and editors. If I send you a query rejection, do not ask me to trot out my skills for free. That repairman’s job is to learn how to repair things well enough that he can make a living. My job is to work with a select list of writers and sell their projects. Your job, as a writer who wants to attain publication, is to learn how to write with a level of skill and craft that lifts you out of the pool of literary rejections. Like with any other job, you need to invest time and, often, money (in the form of classes, conferences, books, etc…. but never pay an agent or agency to read your query or manuscript!) in order to build your skills and writing confidence.
Seek Out Resources for Writing Encouragement
There are tons of resources out there, including the SCBWI, conferences and other writers who you can include in a critique group. I would love to be a resource for new writers and provide writing encouragement, because I know and understand where they come from and what they’re going through, but I can’t provide individual assistance to everyone who’s struggling through literary rejections. That’s why I keep this blog and reach out to as many as I possibly can with articles that are as relevant as possible to the greatest number of people at once. I hope I can boost your writing confidence through this blog — just don’t ask for specific agent feedback unless you’re my client.
I have ten years of experience in the publishing industry. When you hire me as your manuscript editor, I’ll provide helpful feedback that’ll help you grow as a writer.