Having your manuscript rejected by an agent is just horrible. We know how hard it is to share your creative work, how much time and effort you’ve taken to get it polished and how loooong the wait for a response feels. Sending rejection emails is the worst part of our job.
The thing to bear in mind is that it genuinely isn’t anything to do with you. It really boils down to the agent’s own personal taste. It’s interesting to think of it this way: How often do you read a book / watch a film / admire a décor only to find out that a person who you thought had similarly excellent taste has an entirely different opinion?
As agents we spend a lot of time working on manuscripts, editing, pitching, sharing with editors, chasing up, etc. before we see our efforts bear fruit. This means that to invest that much time and effort we have to be passionately in love with the manuscript to take it on. Given there are a limited number of hours in the day and we can only represent a finite number of writers, seeking a true emotional connection with the work from the outset is vital.
There are very often times that we find something really very good, we can see it has potential and that the writer is talented but we can’t get excited about it; it’s just not our cup of tea. We would be doing the writer a disservice by taking them on. How could we do a convincing job of sharing it with passion with publishers? We just wouldn’t be the right person for the job.
Frequently, it’s only after scores of rejections (and listening to feedback) that a writer will find the right agent – that person who adores and really gets their story. SF Said recently tweeted that he had over ninety rejections for VARJAK PAW and he is not unusual by any means. It is worth going through that misery to find an agent whose eyes will light up at a bookfair when they start talking about your book!
It is a wise move to try and build up resilience to rejection, and focus on the fact that it is only about your manuscript not being the right fit on this occasion, rather than a personal rejection, then you will find the road to getting published just that little bit less rocky.
And remember - if an agent doesn’t pick up your manuscript, take heart – it just hasn’t found the right home yet…