In getting to know some local writers in my area, a phrase keeps cropping up in my conversations with them. “Glowing rejections.” What exactly are these?

Essentially, even if you’re doing everything right–your query is flawless, pages or full manuscripts have been requested, your plot, storyline and characters are all memorable and easy to follow–rejection may still follow anyway, and most of the time, it has nothing to do with you.

Take one of my writer friends. She wrote a great zombie novel, but the people reading her manuscript were concerned that zombie-lore might be waning. It had to do more with what was already out there than the quality of her manuscript.

Another writer friend, who just published a great novel called Only Fear said that she received many “glowing rejections” before she landed an agent. But despite these, she was eventually able to sell her book. So really, the tides can turn either way.

Glowing rejections don’t mean doom, and they certainly don’t mean you won’t get published. They’re just an inevitable part of the process.

I don’t yet speak from experience on this–I won’t start querying until next year. But when I do, I want to ensure that I am considering an agent’s workload just as much as my own. With the staggering amount of queries they receive, it is their job to pick the best ones out of the bunch. And they deserve nothing but respect for that process.

But don’t get discouraged. Just keep trying, even when the glowing (and not so glowing) rejections come in. As my grandfather once said, “There are two ways to climb an oak tree. One is to climb the tree, and the other is to sit on an acorn and wait.” (Just make sure you climb efficiently. Don’t be an oak tree stumbler, as evidenced in this recent blog post by Janet Reid.)

So, what are you waiting for? Go ahead and climb!

0 replies
  1. Eliza Green
    Eliza Green says:

    Just because agents know what the market is and isn't looking for, doesn't mean they always get it right.
    Take JK Rowling for example, who was told there was no place for her wizard books, until someone took a chance on her. Sometimes, but not always, it can be about finding the right agent.

  2. The Writer Librarian
    The Writer Librarian says:

    Excellent point. I've heard a few other authors (and even some agents) point out that even when a story has already been told,it will sell if it's told in a unique way. JK Rowling is definite evidence of that. I'm not sure what happened with this other writer–maybe the zombies weren't the problem after all…


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