Are Rejection Letters Fit For Purpose?

I’m just throwing this out there. It’s an idea to be bashed, smashed and totally trashed.

I’m starting the submission process for my second novel, the first novel became a magnet for rejections. I did get a couple of requests for the full MS, one of which was rejected, the other is probably lost by now.

So what was wrong? I have no idea. Could’ve been the cover letter, the synopsis, the first 3 chapters, the first 6 chapters, no market for it, a similar novel was already being progressed, the novel was OK it was me…I’ve no idea.

I appreciate every rejection I’ve received…and continue to receive. They’re better than being ignored.

In this post-Simon Cowell world, I can take rejection and a middle finger into an eyeball. In fact, I invite it – I stepped out of the peace and quiet of my own little bubble and put my novel out there!

I moved on by continuing to submit and wrote a second novel but I’m none-the-wiser why my first novel failed. I’m not asking for individual feedback but it would be nice to know at what fence I fell.

I think there’s 4 main fences you fall at as an author submitting to an agent;

  1. Arrogant/boring cover letter.
  2. First 3 chapters suck arse.
  3. Rambling/confusing synopsis.
  4. Similar novel already being represented.

Just getting a ‘No’ doesn’t inform you if you’ve fallen at the first hurdle and need to do A LOT of work – or – if you’ve fallen at fence 4 and you’re actually a pretty good writer, it’s just your timing that’s a little off.

Is all good material rejected with a pat on the back but unfortunately you’ve got ‘poor timing’ or ‘we’ve already got that base covered‘?

If all rejections look the same, then they mean the same.

Why Should an Agent Change their Standard Rejection Letter?
This is the key, what’s in it for the agent? Why should they spend 1 minute asking a minion to set up their email program to have 4 standard email rejections rather than just the one?

I believe it’ll improve the quality of submissions as a whole.

Maybe my cover letter was such an utter abomination to the concept of ‘words’ that agents didn’t even bother reading the synopsis or first 3 chapters and sent me their standard rejection letter;

Thanks for your submission. I’m grateful to have the opportunity to read your work but don’t feel this would be right for me. I wish you every success in the future.

I go away thinking, ‘Oh well, close but no cigar, onto the next one.‘ The next agent is then submitted to the same monstrosity as the last…and so on. That next agent could be YOU.

If, instead, I got;

Didn’t like the cover letter. Good luck changing it but please don’t resubmit.

Boom! I’ve gained knowledge from a pre-written, boiler plate, 2 second response. The next agent will get a rewritten cover letter which will hopefully be measurably more enjoyable to read than the last. That next agent could be YOU.

The other 3 rejections might be similar to;

The letter led me onto the submitted chapters but they didn’t grab me.

The chapters were OK but you really need to focus the rest of the story as the synopsis made little sense. *

* rejecting a submission on the basis of the synopsis has to be the cruellest act in literature, surely!?

Great submission, but unfortunately I have a similar novel in production. Please continue submitting to other agents/publishers and best of luck.

These 4 simple rejections encourage;

  1. Poorly written cover letters, synopses and chapters to be rewritten.
  2. Well written material to remain unadulterated and the author to be unobliterated.
  3. All agents to improve the overall quality of submissions through the art of rejection (pay it forward).

So that’s it. Just an idea.

Would be interested in feedback other than;

Thanks for your idea. I’m grateful to have the opportunity to read your idea but don’t feel it would be right for me. I wish you every success in the future.