Thursday, April 15, 2010

'I'm Not Connecting With This'

Pretty much every writer who has received a rejection on a full or partial manuscript has seen this elusive comment in some form or another as the reason behind it all.

It’s like the equivalent of going on a first date, leaving after the main course and when you arrive at the door the man says ‘I’m sorry, I’m just not that into you.’

Now, I am a pretty ‘by the rules’ querier. I’ve never contacted an agent after a rejection or asked for feedback.

But after sending out a full or partial and receiving the form rejection, I have to admit that my fingers itched to write back, begging and pleading on virtual knees - ‘Please! Please! I’ll pray for your children! I’ll pray for your grandchildren! I’ll kiss the ground you walk on if you could just please tell me WHYYYYYYY? Any crumb of insight or knowledge would do!’

I’ve never sent this kind of response. (I swear!) Being the level headed woman I am. I have wanted to, though, and it took two or three days of sheer will power and restraint before I could just ‘let it go’ and move on.

Which brought me to the question:
What does it really mean when an agent says ‘I’m not connecting with this.’ ?

I think agents choose to include this in their form rejections because it’s unspecific and puts the fault on the agent rather than the writer. Every agent is different. They all have different tastes, preferences, imaginations and insights. It’s true that what doesn’t appeal to them might very well appeal to someone else.
However, Cynthia Leitich Smith’s
CYNSATIONS’s blog has been, for me, the bible into the subconscious of the literary agent’s world.

After reading various interviews that explain what makes an agent choose to pursue a manuscript and take on a new client, I came to the realization that ‘Not Connecting’ probably means the following:

-There might be technical problems with the writing

-Too little description.

-Too much description

- Characters aren’t ‘visible’ or ‘believable’.

-Not enough action

-Too much action

-The story isn’t unrolling how they’d imagined after reading the query.

And then there are cases when everything is ‘fine’-
The writing is up to par, the characters are believable, the action palpable BUT the agent doesn’t see his or herself spending umpteen hours working on this manuscript.
It’s not that they think it’s poor. It just isn’t what THEY’RE looking for.

It literally is like looking for a mate. If you’re going to invest time, effort, and money in someone, you aren’t going to want to just ‘settle’ because they meet criteria. You’re looking for the looove.

And all too often, it’s the loooove that’s missing when an agent says ‘I’m Not Connecting With This’.

So keep up hope queriers. People don’t fall in love with a new person every day. Agents can’t be expected to either. But that doesn’t mean it can’t happen. All it takes is hard work, a will to succeed, and a little bit of divine intervention.

I truthfully believe that there’s an agent out there for every manuscript. Call me an optimist. If I wasn’t, I wouldn’t be her


Jessica Bell said...

Thanks for this. I was just sitting here sulking over my last rejection. :(

JE said...

That's the problem "not connecting with this" is too darn vague! It could means a million things, just like you posted.

It's probably just some form of a standard reject, making you think they personalized it, but they didn't really. Neither of my two rejections from full ms read like this. Mine were like SUPER form rejections "sorry, but no and we can't give you more feedback as time doesn't allow...blah...blah...blah..." Grrrr...

It's so frustrating, isn't is? But the love factor? That had me laughing. You are so right.

But I'm with you - there IS an agent out for every manuscript. Well, maybe not every manuscript, because not all of them are good. But, if you are good, there is an agent out there for you - you just have to find him/her!

Vicki Rocho said...

I've been comparing the querying/agent search to dating. I think it's the perfect metaphor! You ARE definitely looking for the LOOOOOVE! Just a pity you have to kiss so many damn frogs first!

Matthew MacNish said...

Great analogy CQG, and very true. Vague rejection notes sure are aggravating but you're right that it doesn't necessarily say anything about the writing.

I recommend getting as much feedback from excellent beta readers as possible. Also entering contests on the blogs of agented authors can win you actual critiques from their agent.

Unknown said...

Heck yes be an optimist!!! You are working so hard to produce something so amazing your heart and soul went into this piece of work and creativity it will be published!!! I believe positivity does go a long way even though at times you feel defeated.

I am terrified to receive those rejections because your mind does race behind all the meanings!!!

Creepy Query Girl said...

Thanks Jen- Yes it is daunting and you can take some real hits to your ego. But as long as you look at your manuscript as having constant room for improvement, and you keep working at it and querying, my hope is that we'll all prevail:)

Matt- Everyone keeps talking about a 'beta'. Is that like a critiquing partner? I've got a wonderful group of writers who I've formed a critics group with on my writer's forum and it's been loads of help. It'd be great to win a contest like you did! You'll have to let us know how it goes!

Candyland said...

Ahh yes. The right person is out there. Somewhere. I think. (hope?!)

Bish Denham said...

Excellent post. Another reason they might not connect is that it's just not their type or story or they just don't get it.

Stina said...

LOL. Geez, that narrows it down, doesn't it?

I can definitely relate to what you're going through. I have an award for you on my blog. Hopefully that makes you feel a tadbit better. ;)

Karen Jones Gowen said...

Staying hopeful, positive and realistic is the writer's salvation. Not that it always works haha, seeing how most of us are insecure, scared, and anxiety-ridden, but at least it's the ideal :)

Creepy Query Girl said...

Thanks Stina! you're awesome!

Talli Roland said...

Oh, I hate the 'I'm not connecting with this' rejection because it is so vague and could be almost anything! I think you're right; a lot of agents use it because it puts the onus on them. But the end result is the same: a rejection.

I like your optimism!

Shannon O'Donnell said...

Great post! I prefer being an optimist too.

I popped over from Stina's blog to say hello and congratulate you on your award! And I see a lot of familiar faces! :-)

Roland D. Yeomans said...

Sometimes not connecting to an agent means he/she wasn't made to care for the main character enough to root for him, or that the stakes weren't high enough. What did Frost write?

"Only where love and need are one,
And the work is play for mortal stakes,
Is the deed ever really done."

A walk to the pharmacy in a snowstorm can be made riveting when the protagonist is diabetic and if she doesn't make it to the pharmacy quickly, she will slip into a coma. A walk in slippery snow turned from mundane to lethal.

Just a thought. I hate that phrase, too, by the way. What did the agent need? An extention cord?

Come by my blog again, why don't ya? Roland

Christine said...

I've had the "I'm not connecting with your writing" response as well as my CP from the same agent--so definitely "form rejection" because we write very differently.

Oh well. I've also had the "Like but didn't Love" rejection, which *I* rejected because the entire exchange was weird. I don't even think the agent *read* a word of the MS. I put her on my "do not query again" list and rejected her!

Jessica Bell said...

Just got another rejection. What do you make of this response?

"Many thanks for sending me this material, which I read with interest.

Although I have considered this carefully I'm afraid it just doesn't quite grab my imagination in the way that it must for me to offer to represent it. So I shall have to follow my gut instinct and pass on this occasion. I'm sorry to be so disappointing, but thanks for thinking of us. Of course this is a totally subjective view, so do keep trying other agents and I sincerely wish you every success with it elsewhere.

With all best wishes"

Does this ultimately mean it's crap in a polite way? What do you think?

Creepy Query Girl said...

I think this sounds like a form rejection but gives the 'lack of loooove' reason for the rejection. Overall, a very nice letter though! Christine- I love the idea of putting agents on a 'reject' list- awesome.

Anonymous said...

I've heard that too. And I think they just didn't fall in love with the story. Because if they truly connect and fall in love, they'd send a revision rejection letter. :)


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