Most query rejections look something like this:
- “I didn’t connect”
- “just not for me” or
- no response at all (which means no)
This is not helpful and I’ve seen many writers on Twitter complain, can’t they just tell me what’s wrong? Just a sentence or two. How long could that possibly take? One minute?
Well, it will take more than one minute. Let’s say to read your query letter and respond could take 2 minutes. With 200 queries a week, that works out to about 7 hours each week. But if a query includes r pages of your manuscript, then that eats up 10 minutes per query and suddenly that jumps to about 33 hours each week. If all agents did was read and respond to queries that might work. But they are clients to serve too. I’ve sent job applications and received rejections that say we found someone that matched what we were looking for better. Human Resources isn’t going to spend time giving you reasons for rejecting you either. They don’t have the time.
So, the first reason agents don’t provide feedback is simply you aren’t a client. Agents need to read manuscripts, pitch editors, and numerous other responsibilities related to supporting their authors.
Since agents often get to only read a query letter, synopsis, and a number of pages from your manuscript, they might not have a clue what’s wrong with your book. All they know is that they’re not interested. This why the rejection you received say I didn’t connect.
Sometimes there’s nothing wrong with your manuscript. The plot, characters, and writing may be fine. But the book doesn’t excite them enough to invest their time to pitch it. How many books have you read that you thought was okay but didn’t wow you? There must be a good connection between the book and the agent for the relationship to work.
Sometimes the agent is wrong. They may believe that there’s no market for the book. Then you become even more discouraged and abandon your manuscript. What if another agent thinks this is just what they’re looking for? But they never get to see it because you stopped querying.
So, instead of raging about agents, look for ways to improve your pitch.
- Can you make your query letter better? If you pitch is weak, what does it say about your book?
- Does you first chapter grab the reader? If your story builds too slowly or spends too much time on backstory, it will turn off readers.
- Is your protagonist attractive enough to invest time with? Is he or she interesting?
A rejection can mean a lot of things. But don’t expect the agent to figure it out for you. A good beta reader can answer many of these questions for you. Revise your submission and get back to querying. And good luck.