Tuesday, February 17, 2009


If you are not reading WordServe Literary Agent Rachelle Gardner's Blog you are missing out. Yes, she specializes in Christian Publishing and if you are reading my blog you probably specialize in Children's Publishing, but she is one savvy agent with a blog-load of good advice.

Today she focuses on why agents don't send personalized rejection letters. Rejection hurts. Everyone in this business experiences it. But as Rachelle says:

"I could be wrong. I would hate to make some kind of pronouncement about your manuscript being unsalable and get you all dejected, only to have my opinion proven wrong by the next agent who comes along and recognizes your brilliance."

Opinions vary and we, as writers and illustrators, must bully up our confidence everyday to create our very best work. When we stop believing in ourselves, our creativity suffers. Our manuscripts suffer. And most of all, our souls suffer.

I have been lucky enough to attend a number of SCBWI retreats where participants meet in small groups with an editor and read their first pages aloud. The editor provides a first-impression critique. An hour later, our small group reassembles in front of a different editor and we hear his/her critique of the same work. In the third hour, the writers repeat this process with a third editor. To my great surprise, the editors' opinions varied not just greatly but sometimes were completely juxtaposed.

Lesson learned: opinions vary from person to person so I must believe in myself and search for my editorial soul-mate.


  1. Jill, as always, you provide sound advice.

    I've been to those first page sessions where the opinions have been all over the place. It's interesting to witness. I remember one editor who said she wouldn't continue reading a manuscript because it featured beetles and she hated insects. So much of this is personal preference. If you get rejected, it doesn't mean you can't write, it means you haven't found the right champion for your work.

  2. Jill, thanks for this post. It is all SO personal, but we as writers can't take it personally.

    Easier said than done sometimes.

  3. As someone who received three rejections today (at least they came quickly) on my query, I appreciate your comments and the link.

  4. This business is a matter of opinion. There have been many award winning books that I wouldn't have even published.

  5. Funny thing is as I hit publish on this post, my agent emailed me a editor's rejection. Honestly, still hurts but I'm trying to live by my own words and remember, opinions vary.

  6. Super post, Jill. I've been to those one-page read-alouds and yes, there can be a lot of variability. But at least now I have a new perspective on my pile of rejections.

    And double-pooey on yours... :^(

    Peace, Linda

  7. Rejection is never EZ - we all want to be loved ;)

  8. Kim--right now, I'll settle for someone just loving me query letter.

  9. Jill, thanks for posting this. I know rejections aren't "personal" even though they sometimes feel like it. I haven't actually thought about it from the editor's or agent's POV, though, so this was good to read.



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