Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Literary Agent Stories Part 3

This one comes from T. Anne at White Platonic Dreams

Here's my helpful albeit slightly painful experience. I once wrote a novel then queried said novel, then received a myriad of rejections for said novel that were bland and meaningless and politely said, "sorry I don't think we are a good fit".

Nevertheless I continued with my query fest until I finally received a request for a partial. '
Super agent' (who was also wise in my eyes for requesting a partial in the first place) sent back something just this side of worse than a bland rejection.

It was a harsh, hard boiled, non sugar coated, not for the meek or week or basically for anyone who had a heart. It was cruel

"It" I later learned was called a critique. It hurt like hell and I wanted to hide from the free world and mostly the cyber world and any alternate reality that might have mistakenly known me as a writer. Clearly according to 'super agent' I was anything but. Then after a few hours I slinked back to my computer and re-read the darn thing again. OK. She said she liked my voice. She also asked me to rewrite the first three chapters and please send it back to her because she really was interested.

Was this a pity rewrite?

I wasn't sure. But rewrite I did and you know what? My story rocks now. I'm no longer embarrassed to show it to humans of all ages and sizes. Was I before? You bet. Why? Because I should have been.

I'm very grateful for that experience. As painful as it was (and it so was) I don't regret it. In fact, I'm so very thankful.

T. Anne


There is nothing like a cold hard dose of the truth to wake us up and painful as it is sometimes we need agents to hear the truth. it's rare to find that friend or family member that is gutsy enough so this is yet another service that often falls upon agents shoulders. I've written on here before about my first personalized rejection but since I have a few new readers I will share the handwritten words with you again. the agent said and I quote, "Your meandering story telling and excessive verbiage does not appeal to me now or never."

And yes, that particular agent was correct in his brief summary of my writing at that time. And his harshness motivated me to get better. I at least like to think I have.


Joanne said...

Great series, I think we can all see ourselves somewhere in these words. The truth is often painfully enlightening, most definitely. T.Anne, thanks for sharing your story, and best wishes on the rewrite submissions!

Author Jessica Nelson said...

Ouch on your personalized one. But you're right, sometimes the harshness spurs us to be better.
Thanks to T. Anne for sharing her story.
I think a personalized rejection, even a critique, is a sign that something good about your story spoke to that agent.

Being Beth said...

Somehow, these stories are quite encouraging. Thanks all, for sharing.

Eileen Astels Watson said...

Wow, glad to know I'm not alone with rejections hurting. It seems the ones that hurt the most help the most. So I say, keep slamming me against the wall. Somehow I'm gaining from it!

Sherrie Petersen said...

That was actually a great rejection if the agent gave rewrite advice and asked to see it again! Congratulations :)

Tana said...

Thanks Travis for letting me share! Hopefully, one day soon I'll have really good agent news. ;)

Lynnette Labelle said...

Great posts! I can't believe that editor acted so unprofessional. Wow! You should be glad you don't have to work with her.

Lynnette Labelle

Julie Dao said...

Criticism is terrifying but very necessary. Kudos to T. Anne for moving past the cruel comments and picking out the constructive advice!

Barbara Martin said...

To get a written partial critique on work submitted is a bonus for a writer. That way you know what's not working and how to fix it.

Melanie Hooyenga said...

I'm loving these personal stories.

I haven't received anything that personal from an agent, but a mutual published friend pointed out some flaws in my voice that stung at first, but once I dug myself out of my hole I realize how correct she is. I'm hoping I can get her to do the same for novel #2.

AM said...


Thanks for posting these stories. It is encouraging to know that we are not alone.

Though I haven't experienced a brutal rejection - yet, I know to prepare myself based on these and other's experiences.

T. Anne,

Good luck! Thanks for telling your story.