Monday, May 15, 2023

submitting manuscripts, rejection, mswl
                                                                                                                                                      Photo by:


Here I am at the beginning of this post, and I'm not sure where it will be going or what the point will be.  All I know is that I need to vent and I hope you'll hear me out. 

So, this is what set me off.  I sent a manuscript to an agent I had never queried before.  She runs a very small business and only works with two other agents.  According to QueryTracker, she accepts picture books and responds to all of the queries in her inbox.

To submit to this agent, writers are required to fill out a form on Query Manager.  This is no big deal—I'm used to these submission forms which ask for a query letter, the pitch, the word count plus similar books (at least two published in the last 5 years) and the intended audience.

But this particular agent wanted more.  She asked for the number this book represented in a series— which threw me off.  Like many other picture books, my submission was a stand-alone.  In addition, she also wanted to know who had edited the book and if you were participated in a critique group. 

I didn't pay to have this book professionally edited.  For crying out loud, it's a 300-word book, I'm a college grad, been writing for over 20 years, been published in the Christian Science Monitor, Highlights, Mothering Magazine and scientific journals.  But I answered politely:  Yes, I belong to a critique group. My critique partners and my first reader helped me edit this work. 

When all of the fields had been filled in and the form was carefully reviewed, I uploaded my manuscript and submitted the form.

Ten days later I heard back.  It was rejected.  Now, don't get me wrong, I wasn't too upset about her turning down this piece.  Rejections are part of being a writer.  Maybe this agent didn't like the fact that my book wasn't professionally edited.  Who knows?

But the thing that got me was the way she phrased the rejection letter: 

Dear Randi,

I'm sorry, but at this time your project does not fit what I am looking for, and so I will have to pass. Thank you for considering me and best of luck with your future queries.

Though the message was courteous, I got angry because of the vagueness:  your project does fit what I am looking for. 

Who in God's name would know what she's looking for?  This agent posted on her manuscript wish list that she's seeking a fun picture book, so I sent her a light-hearted and humorous piece.  Obviously, she and I differ on our take of fun picture book.  That's okay.  The business of writing humor for kids is subjective.

Here's the thing.  This would have been a great opportunity for her to mention in the rejection letter what she IS hoping to find in her inbox.  To give a brief hint.  A crumb, a morsel, a clue.  But her response was extremely vague and it reeked of arrogance and laziness.  How dare her say it's not what she wants and go no further to give an example of what she would like to find. 

In contrast, many agents go into great detail about their submission wants.  On the Official Manuscript Wish List agents spell out specifically what they hope to find in their inboxes.  This benefits both writers and the agent.  Writers have a better chance to match their manuscripts to the needs of an agent.  

There is something positive that came from this submission/rejection.  It reminds me to look for an agent who gives an explicit wish list.  It reminds me to make a better attempt at matching my manuscripts to an agent's needs.  More, I reminds me to use caution in submitting humorous picture books.  Ah, to live and learn.  To grow and move on.  

All is good.  Thank you for hearing me out.  Done venting.  For now.

✌ and 


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