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 e.